Nairobi, Kenya – The African Water Facility (AWF), through the African Development Bank (AfDB), signed on September 17, 2014, a € 731,400 grant agreement in favour of the Athi Water Services Board to support a social business project that will provide affordable, hygienic and sustainable sanitation facilities to the urban poor in Nairobi. The project is uniquely designed to create new business opportunities for women through business training and by supporting the development of sanitation franchises owned and managed by women entrepreneurs.
Particularly, the AWF grant will be used to address acute problems associated with the provision of sanitation services of the urban poor in the informal Nairobi settlements of Mukuru Kwa Reuben, Mukuru Kwa Njenga and Viwandani. The project will be scaling up innovative branded sanitation technologies to informal settlements, using technology and service models pioneered by Sanergy, which was selected as the strategic partner for implementing this project. Sanergy is a private social enterprise that builds healthy prosperous communities by making hygienic sanitation affordable and accessible throughout Africa’s informal settlements.
“Sanitation and hygiene access in urban slums is a particularly difficult problem to tackle,” said Akissa Bahri, Coordinator of the African Water Facility. “Promoting income-generating sanitation businesses has proven to be highly effective in providing long-term solutions, especially if run by women – so we saw immense value in backing this type of project, which is a new experience we hope to replicate.”
Speaking at the ceremony, Gabriel Negatu, Regional Director, African Development Bank, underscored the importance of this grant and stating that “the project will complement the ongoing Bank-financed Nairobi sewerage improvement project and contribute to the overall improvement in sanitation and public health within Nairobi.”
This initiative is AWF’s first venture supporting a social business model whereby enterprises are entirely devoted to solving a social problem through profit-generating activities. The venture will also encourage the expansion of a wide-range of waste collection, treatment and reuse businesses in the area. Overall, more than 100,000 residents of Mukuru and surrounding settlements stand to benefit from the project. In the long term, further expansion of the project could reach an additional 300,000 people.
“The Athi Water Services Board appreciates the continued support the AWF and the AfDB have extended towards improving water and sanitation infrastructure in Nairobi and assured the Bank of AWSB commitment to efficient implementation of the project,” said Eng Malaquen Milgo, on behalf of Athi Water Services Board.
Over 1.75 million people live in Nairobi’s low-income settlements, where water and sanitation problems are particularly acute. The infant mortality rate in the slums is higher than in any other part of the country, and under-five mortality rates (151 per 1,000 live births) is more than double the national average. Mortality is typically the result of diseases caused by insufficient clean water supply, sanitation and hygiene, otherwise preventable. Access to hygiene in many informal settlements in Kenya is well below 50%.