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Slum residents to benefit from Reckitt Benckiser’s sanitation pact with Sanergy

By Elly Gitau
Wednesday, November 18th, 2020
In summary

Reckitt Benckiser (RB) through its brand Harpic and Sanergy have formed a strategic partnership to help thousands of Mukuru Kwa Njenga and Mathare slums residents gain access to safe, hygienic and sustainable Fresh Life Toilet sanitation solutions.

The partnership will map out and develop effective campaigns to boost awareness on the urgent need of adopting sustainable sanitation solutions across the country as they seek to lift up ten thousand Kenyans currently still living without access to safely managed sanitation.

RB East Africa general manager Sachin Varma said improving Kenya’s state of sanitation requires more inclusive approaches and partnerships to save the country’s poorest, most remote, and the most marginalised populations living in rapidly expanding peri-urban areas.

“Africa's cities are growing at an unprecedented rate. In Kenya alone, the urban population is well over 10 million and this is definitely going further up with an accelerated rate of rural to urban migration. This rapid urbanisation has huge implications for waste management in the country’s cities, which already face pressing water and sanitation demands,’’ said Varma.

He spoke during a pre-event to mark the World Toilet Day 2020 celebrations in Nairobi on Wednesday. The World Toilet Day is marked globally every 19th of November.

This year’s event runs under the theme: Sustainable Sanitation and Climate Change, advocating for equal access to sustainable sanitation that can withstand climate change and keep communities healthy and functioning.

“The challenge of urban sanitation is particularly acute as it requires changing mindsets towards a balanced mix of sewered and non-sewered solutions, creating new institutional arrangements at the interface between counties, utilities and private providers while also inducing behaviour change at the household level,” he added.

United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) ranks Kenya as the third-largest country in terms of number of people drinking water from contaminated sources in Sub-Saharan Africa, with more than 9.4 million Kenyans reportedly drinking directly from contaminated water sources.

Consequently, the economy loses an estimated Sh27 billion annually with more than 36,000 deaths recorded every year due to poor sanitation.

“This rapid growth of urban areas in Kenya has grown with low-income areas characterised by overcrowding and largely strained basic infrastructure. It is projected that the urban population with inadequate housing and basic services is could double to two billion by 2030.

“Therefore, now is the time to address the sanitation crisis sustainably. Sanergy is building bold solutions for these cities – aiming to build healthy and prosperous communities. At the same time, we are always excited to work with partners such as Reckitt Benckiser to scale our reach and impact,” said Sanergy co-founder David Auerbach.

The social enterprise has developed a circular economy approach to delivering safe sanitation services. They design, build and distribute sanitation products and services to urban residents via a monthly subscription.

On a regular basis, they professionally remove the waste generated and transports it to their Organics Recycling Factory, where it is treated and upcycled into high quality agricultural inputs and clean energy.

“Our partnership with RB through Harpic brand is very timely. RB’s cleaning and disinfecting products will go a long way in ensuring that our customers have access to safe facilities for them and their households,” added Auerbach.

Sanergy said its Fresh Life Toilets have been very valuable to residents in the informal settlements particularly during this Covid-19 period because residents are able to have access to a private sanitation option and therefore, stem the spread of Covid-19.

Since 2011, when Sanergy launched its first Fresh Life Toilet, the enterprise has built a network of over 3,000 sanitation units that serve over 100,000 urban residents.