From Sewage to Fuel: in Kenya, NAWASSCO makes profits from Human Waste

In Kenya, Nakuru Water and Sanitation Services Company (NAWASSCO) is helping solve one of Africa’s challenges. NAWASSCO processes human waste to briquettes which locals in Nakuru, an agriculturally-rich county about 90km from Nairobi, use for cooking and heating.

The sludge from pit latrines and sewages is put on drying beds inside greenhouses for about 14 to 21 days to reduce its moisture content. Thereafter, It is then treated in a kiln at 700 degrees Celsius, to remove harmful pathogens and foul smells.

John Irungu, site manager for the Nakuru Water and Sanitation Services Company, at the drying bed inside Nawascco’s greenhouse

The dry sludge is mixed with sawdust which has also been carbonised at 300 degrees celsius. Molasses, which serves as binding agent, is added to the mixture and molded into balls for sale.

According to a NAWASSCO site manager, John Irungu, who was interviewed in a mini-documentary video, NAWASSCO makes two tons of briquettes per month, but plans to scale up its production to 10 tons, by the end of 2017. It also plans to expand to other parts of Kenya.

Treated human waste becomes briquettes at a NAWASSCO faciity

Part of the plan also includes getting larger-scale equipment to help remove water from sludge and improve the carbonization process.

The briquette project is supported by SNV Netherlands Development Organisation and the European Union

Briquettes from NAWASSCO are used for domestic cooking

This biotech solution also offers an alternative to charcoal. According to Kenya Forest Service, charcoal provides about 82 percent of the energy in urban households and 34 percent of the energy in rural households, but with environmental threat. However, the use of charcoal as fuel is a major threat to the forest.

Beyond the NAWASSCO success story in Kenya, the innovative use of human waste offers valuable resources such as energy, clean water and nutrients.

Poo-powered bus launched in the UK in 2015

For instance, a poo-powered bus which runs on human and household waste was launched in the United Kingdom in 2015.

CREDITS: Thomson Reuters Foundation/ Benson Rioba/ Mpesacharges

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Deji Aroloye91 Posts

    a graduate of Linguistics and a staff writer at Outrepreneurs, Deji's forte includes tech, startups and innovations. Years back, Deji wrote on Entertainment and Lifestyle for a tabloid. If he wasn't a writer, Deji would be a photographer or teacher.


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