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September 26, 2018

Human waste briquettes sell fast in Nakuru

Nawasco MD James Ng'ang'a and staff members inspect dried human waste briquettes at the Nawasco treatment plant near Lake Nakuru, August 10, 2016. /RITA DAMARY
Nawasco MD James Ng'ang'a and staff members inspect dried human waste briquettes at the Nawasco treatment plant near Lake Nakuru, August 10, 2016. /RITA DAMARY

Cooking briquettes made of human waste and sawdust are selling like hotcakes in Nakuru.

Demand is fuelled by the countrywide logging ban countrywide and the crackdown on transport and sale of charcoal in many areas.

Nakuru firm is making the briquettes by mixing sawdust and human waste. The shortage of fuel has forced millions of people to find alternative sources of fuel.

The Nakuru Water and Sanitation Services Company (Nawasco)managing director James Ng’ang’a said the company is promoting the briquettes to save forests.

The process involves a kiln burning away moisture and venting gases from human waste. The end product is safe, odour-free and ready to burn.

“This tackles lack of sewers and need for sustainable fuel supplies. While the idea of cooking with human waste makes some people squeamish, residents have adopted the briquettes,” Ng’ang’a said yesterday.

The briquettes have been certified by the Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) and the National Environment Management Authority (Nema).

The briquettes last longer than traditional charcoal. Burning them is efficient and processing has improved sanitation in poor parts of town, he said.

Ng’ang’a said the water service provider has formed a subsidiary company called Nawascoal to make and sell the briquettes because Nawasco is a non-profit entity.

Project manager John Irungu said the company sells two tonnes of briquettes per month and sells them beyond Nakuru county.

“You eliminate all volatile matter, harmful gases and ensure that your sludge doesn’t smell,” Irungu said. Molasses is usedas a binder and then the mixture is transformed into balls.

They sell for about Sh30 a kilo.

Only one in four Nakuru residents is connected to the sewerage system. Waste is often dumped in drains and rivers or buried, Irungu said.

Nawasco says the pilot project will scale up from two tonnes of briquettes a month to 10 tonnes a day. There are plans for other projects around Kenya. The company partnered with the Netherlands Development Organisation.

Only 10.4 per cent of Kenyans use electricity for cooking, 11 per cent use gas and an equal number on paraffin.

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