Where does your 'shit' go? 66% of Nairobi human waste unaccounted for

People walk near open sewers in the Kibera slum of Kenya's capital Nairobi February 26, 2015. /REUTERS
People walk near open sewers in the Kibera slum of Kenya's capital Nairobi February 26, 2015. /REUTERS

Nairobi City Water and Sewerage Company cannot account for the disposal of over 66 percent of human waste.

This was reported on Wednesday as Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) experts from the private sector and the government unveiled a ‘Shit Flow Diagram” (SFD), a map that depicts the flow of fecal waste in Nairobi.

The diagram shows that 66 per cent of fecal waste generated is left untreated, posing serious risks to the environment and public health.

Speaking during the launch,

Nairobi Water

acting Technical Director Lucy Njambi said there was little documentation on sanitation and acknowledged a major challenge in human waste disposal.

The official reported that only 100,000 cubic litres of human waste gets to the Ruai treatment plant daily and that the county cannot account for over 400,000 cubic litres.

"The plant receives a very small percentage of waste despite the pumping of more than 500,000 litres of water daily," she said.

“We do not know how much goes to septic tanks, conservatories and pit latrines and we do not know where it is getting lost - whether through overflowing and use of pit latrines,” she added.

It was also revealed that only 40 percent of residents are connected to the sewer system. Fifty four percent of these residents make use of different forms of non-sewered sanitation options, with 30 percent of waste emanating from these offerings being poorly handled.

“The remaining six percent still practice Open Defecation (OD),” the report stated.

For improvement, Njambi said the county was working on more sewer coverage due to encroachment mostly in informal areas and by formal housing.

She noted that encroachment has seen manholes pass through people`s houses leading to the inability to flush and unblock the systems.

Trunk sewers that are not in use especially on river banks, the official said, will be reconstructed to serve areas such as Kasarani, Umoja and Eastlands at a cost of Sh9 billion.

She noted that the county has rehabilitated the Kayole sewerage plant with a capacity of 32,000 cubic litres while those in Kahawa West and Karen have a capacity of 5,000 cubic each.

Kepha Ombacho, Director of Public Health at the Ministry of Health, said: “The launch of the Nairobi County Shit Flow Diagram is a step in the right direction. It has given the public and private sector a platform from which to understand the scope of the sanitation challenge.”

Nairobi water director Mario Kainga said more than 500,000 residents lack sanitation services.

He cited lack of funds and proper legal mechanisms to ensure houses get proper sewage disposal.

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