Case Study

Waste-to-Value Sanitation in Kakuma Refugee Camp

Author: Julian Parker, Diego Hakspiel, Andrew Foote, Emily Woods

Year: 2020

Publisher: UNHCR, BMGF, Sanivation

Analysis from the piloting of a business model involving container-based sanitation and a domestic energy reuse product.

UNHCR obtained funds from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) to further research and develop sanitation solutions for areas with difficult ground conditions in protracted refugee camp situations in East Africa. The first step was a landscape analysis conducted by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) in 2014 on sanitation solutions in protracted refugee camp settings. BCG concluded that whilst the basic pit latrine is usually the most cost effective option in the long run, waste-to-value (WTV) solutions can provide more cost effective alternatives in areas where the site is congested, or where there are difficult ground conditions (high groundwater table, flood prone, hard rocky ground, etc). The BCG study also found that WTV solutions might provide additional livelihood and protection benefits, but at that point WTV sanitation in refugee settings had been limited to small pilots. The next phase included a competitive call for cost-effective sanitation innovations for difficult ground conditions. Three solutions were selected and implemented as operational research projects, double vault urine diversion toilets (double vault UDDT) and vermi-filter toilets in Ethiopia, and container-based toilets to fuel bri- quettes in Kenya.

The operational research on container-based toilets to fuel briquettes had two phases. The first phase of the project, lasting until September 2017, confirmed the technical viability of the approach and user acceptance of both the container-based toilets and domestic fuel incorporating human waste. A valida- tion workshop took place, and participants were impressed by the results. For incorporation as a standard solution in difficult ground conditions, participants wanted more information on the business model. Therefore, the second phase, ending in September 2019, set out to test the financial perfor- mance of the business model in Kakuma Refugee Camp. A total of 500 container-based toilets were installed and operated during the project. 

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