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Meru GoK Ecosan Project

Name of Contractor GRANITE CONSTRUCTION CO TIME IN USE From May 2010 after Repairs
CONSULTANT Wakala Moses Contact email Wakala.gtz@gmail.com

Management contact Mr. Charles Mutembei Email mutembeicharles@gmail.com

Meru Water Company Mr Moses Njiiri

Objective and Motivation of Project
The objectives of the project were mainly
• Introduce the concept of on-site treatment and utilization of the treated waste in agriculture.
• To boost agricultural production thus increasing food security as a result of treated effluent reuse.
• Improve sanitation in prison
• Reduce the cost of firewood by use of biogas produced during anaerobic treatment.
The main motivation of the project was to increase access to good sanitation to all, as per the millennium development goal number 7.
Meru GK Prison is a government institution located in eastern province in Meru County and about 220 KM on Nairobi Isiolo road. It has over 1200 inmates and over 300 staff in the 15 hectare compound. The prison is on a sloping ground and is supplied with water from the Meru Water company. The prison management realized the potential of the ecological sanitation through a sensitization from the EPP staff. The prison has a big problem of high firewood consumption for cooking the prisoners’ meals. The prison had also high sewage treatment bills from the treatment plant. These issues combined made the prison management to look into possibilities of adopting new technology from ecosan. Initially all the waste generated from the prison was treated by the municipal sewer. The new technology aimed at treating all the waste in the digester and baffle reactor and reusing the treated effluent in the prison farm as irrigation water and fertilizer. The product of anaerobic decomposition, biogas, also called methane was to be used in the kitchen as source of energy.
Currently as on the date of visit, the digester is being fed by four toilets and the cowshed with two zero-grazed animals. There was no gas production as a result of leakage at the neck seal. This was an opportunity to train the prison officers on the sealing and daily maintenance of the treatment plant. All the treatment components from checking seemed to be working well.
Initially, all the waste from the male prison cells and kitchen was connected to the digester. The digester developed a structural failure and also an over-flow within fewer days than specified in design was noticed. These two reasons led to closure of the entire system and deviation of the main prison waste back to municipal sewer. It has been left like this for almost a half a year. On the visitation day, it was noticed that the service pipes laid earlier connecting the staff toilets and the digester had clogged with surface run-off mad. This must be opened during the re-connection.
It was also realized that one of the water-traps manholes near the kitchen was coved with soil completely and could not be established if it was in a working condition. This is an urgent maintenance duty to be done by the prison officers as the gas was to be used in the kitchen soon after sealing the neck.
The main challenge in the project is the excess water flowing non-stop from the cells toilets and kitchen. This water seems to be more than the design parameters and it pushes all the waste out of the treatment plant before the end of the design retention time. With this happening, the quality of the effluent is bad and thus causing pollution to the underground water.
I highly recommend a design to reduce the amount of water from the waste before it is discharged to the digester. This could mean that the shower water and any excess kitchen water can be separated before it flows out for treatment. The grey water and kitchen water could be treated in the aeration ponds in the prison while the rest to undergo anaerobic treatment.
The second water trap near the VIP toilet should be checked and all the soil removed on the cover. It could be important to raise the manhole walls to ensure its accessibility.
The blocked service pipes from staff line should be checked and all mad removed before connection to the digester again.
Meanwhile before other connections, it is better for the system to be tested as it is with 8 staff toilets connected and the cowshed. This will help the prison to establish the output and efficiency of the digester after the previous repairs.


Cowshed with two cows feeding the digester. Baffle Reactor in Meru GoK prison done by Ecosan Promotion Project
Note: All photos in the report are taken by M. Wakala during site visit (Consultant)


Monitoring and Post Evaluating EcoSans in Nyanza and Western provinces (Field work for Master Thesis research on Ecological Sanitation)

Last month EcoSans in rural schools (of EcoSan Promotion Project, EPP) were monitored and post evaluated in Nyanza and Western provinces in Kenya, by a Finnish master student Kirsikka and GIZ consultants Wycliffe and Moses. The purpose of this project is to do research on how these schools have been managing with operation and maintenance (O&M) of EcoSan toilets. Schools selected for this research are the ones managing well with O&M. Besides monitoring and evaluating the situation on the field, the purpose is to find out what are the main reasons for the good performance in these schools. And figure out if there are some particular issues that other schools, and also projects in the future, could learn from these well managing ones. Why are they managing so well, what factors are affecting to that? As known, one of the major challenges considering ecological sanitation is to create a sustainable operation and maintenance mechanism. How to succeed with that in schools, were challenges are e.g. the high population of toilet users and small children?

In Nyanza province altogether five schools were visited, four of them sponsored by GIZ and EcoSan promotion project: Kendu Muslim Secondary School, Kachan Primary School, Siany Mixed Secondary School and Radienia Primary School. One of the schools, Hope and Kindness, was self sponsored. All the schools were managing relatively well with their operation and maintenance. Toilets were correctly used by pupils and teachers, clean, there was no smell or flies and storing facilities were functioning. Urine and also dried and stored compost was utilized in the school farms! I was happy to see how people were dealing with ecological sanitation very positively and they consider it as a very important issue. Interviewed students were pleased to use EcoSans, as they are clean and not smelly. Idea of reusing urea and compost from the toilets as a fertilizer in the school gardens or farms was well accepted. All the pupils I talked with knew the benefits of this natural fertilizer and had accepted the reuse. 

In Western province schools were already closing for the Christmas holidays, so we managed to visit only some of them. Eldoret Educational Center was a very good example of well operating and maintaining schools! But, we also got one example of the opposite performance… Field observations and interviews in Western province will be continued in early January.

Ecological sanitation has been generally accepted very well in these schools and also in the communities around. Some of the schools had built more UDDTs after the EPP, and communities around were involved – which is one important factor. The schools are spreading the ”gospel of EcoSans” (as one head teacher put it) and some schools get visitors who just want to see and learn about ecological sanitation. Pupils would prefer this kind of toilets also in their home communities, and for sure are spreading the idea to their parents and relatives.

Now it’s time to work with the collected data and make some conclusions. I’ll get back to the topic later!



Posted by Carola Israel according to information provided by Wycliffe Osumba Ecosan Expert from Kenya (osumbawycliffe@yahoo.com). (10 February 2012)
Hope and Kindness is a self sponsored school located along Kendu Bay – Oyus Road in Rachuonyo South District, Homa Bay County. The school has a population of 180 children. The school is caring for orphans affected by HIV / AIDS pandemic. The school has both day and boarding facilities with some children residing in the school.

They were faced with the following problems:
l  Small piece of land
l  Smelly pit latrines
l  Breeding ground for flies and mosquitoes
l  Flooding during rainy season

The soil texture is mixed with some areas rocky and other areas having black cotton soil. The school management was looking for alternative sanitation option and they heard about ECOSAN UDDts and its advantages through awareness creation over the radio and through community awareness meetings.

The school's aim was to recover the nutrients from the units which in actual sense have a good impact on food production, nutrition and health.

They employed a Groundsman who was taking care of the UDDTs and the pit latrines which they are planning to demolish in future.

The units are clean and well maintained. The sanitary towel bin are collected and burnt in the rubbish pit. The end products are being used in the school garden.

l  Blockage of the urine pipe

l  Replacement of the waste pipe with another one of 1” diameter.


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