Kibera is Kenya’s biggest slum town, where the houses are made of mud with leaking roofs made of old iron sheets. The whole area here has no drainage system; a result, the sewage spreads all over. The town smells, and the children and grown-ups inhale the bad stench. There is no provision for water. People buy water from water vendors in jars, and due to the poor sanitation, many people get sick with diseases like cholera, malaria, typhoid, TB. The local women here spend on average, three hours three times a week on a strenuous laundry process, which has devastating health implications as they injure their backs carrying heave water containers for long distances and constantly bending over to wash laundry.
Helping to empower the lives of these people, particularly women, the Human Needs Project (HNP) and Procter & Gamble have created a ground-breaking sustainable community centre in Kibera Town Centre, which is fuelled by solar energy and water supplied from a water borehole. This building brings the latest in clean technology to serve one of the most marginalised communities. Procter & Gamble’s Ariel Laundry Room forms part of the Kibera Town Centre and will revolutionise the laundry process, offering local residents respite from the long and painstaking practice.
Innovation has been used at its best here, where a 1000-foot deep borehole was drilled to access water for the Town Centre, using high-tech solar pumps; the water will be pumped to the Town Centre to supply clean water for sale, for sanitation facilities, for Ariel Laundry Room and Connie’s Coffee Parlour. The Centre’s water will be heated by solar panels lacing the Town Centre’s roof, after which the water will be stored in insulating tanks that minimize heat loss.
Solar energy will also pump water from the borehole, light the centre and support the running of its facilities. Wastewater will be treated through a creative wastewater management system that uses recycled plastic, gravel and sand filters, and is entirely self-contained within the building. The recycled water is then available to use within the community. This process that can be replicated in any part of the world. The Ariel Laundry Room is a hygienic washing space with access to clean water, while the station design, the availability of scrubbing boards and washing machines will dramatically reduce physical strain and wash time.
The Centre aims to act as a source of economic empowerment in the community, owned and operated by a co-operative of community members, offering facilities such as microcredit, adult education and skills training, a cyber café, a green market place and a health and information kiosk. Today, more people in the world live in the city than in the country, and a third of those urban residents live in slums. A billion people worldwide live in slums like Kibera, a growing number as people move from the country to cities every day—most settling in slums. More innovation and clean technology like this project in Kibera is needed.
Photo Credit: Procter & Gamble