Problem Addressed

In Sub-Saharan Africa, only 36% of the population has access to basic sanitation (UNICEF 2009) including around 62 million Ethiopians (UNDP, 2004). Ethiopia has one of the lowest rates of sanitation in the world. Consequently, one of Ethiopia’s major health problems is the spread of disease caused by poor water and sanitation. These issues are compounded by a shortage of medical staff and health facilities. Estimates from the UN Children’s Fund show that 60-80% of the current disease burden in Ethiopia is attributable to environmental health risks, which include poor hygiene and inadequate sanitation. (UNICEF, 2010)

Like other parts of the country, open defecation and the absence of clean water are major problems in Gondar town, particularly in state houses where poor people live in difficult circumstances (high population density, bad road access, etc.). Most of the state houses in Gondar do not have enough toilets and the few that are in place are often not suitable. Seasonal flooding means latrines fill and are unusuable during the rainy season and bad construction means there is a risk of collapse, which in turns fuels a mistrust of using latrines as experiences of floors falling through are common.

Furthermore, over 90% of energy consumption in Ethiopia comes from biomass fuels and this pattern is a major cause of land degradation and deforestation in the country. This has a negative impact on climate change and the environment. Traditional fuels such as firewood and charcoal are used as the primary energy source for cooking by the majority of the rural and urban population even though the cost is high, and constantly increasing. In addition to such fuel sources being damaging to the environment, the people with whom The Kindu Trust works live in poverty and are burdened by every day costs such as food, water and fuel. Fuel is invariably needed for cooking but is a cost which many families struggle to afford.

Innovative Approach

Kindu Trust’s program is innovative because it both provides well-constructed latrines to communities and turns this waste into useful products, including cooking fuel and fertilizer. The latrines are built using sturdy materials and do not require emptying, making them cost-sustainable. This is the first time a program such as this has been implemented in Gondar.

The Kindu Trust - What We Do

Program Solution

For over five years, The Kindu Trust has worked with 47 households in Gondar town’s impoverished Abiye Egzi Area Kebele and has seen the deterioration of its public toilets. To remedy this situation, the project combines improving sanitation services with the provision of clean fuel, at no extra cost in the long term.

In 2012, they worked with residents, a biogas gas engineer, and local government officers to design and install the town’s first biogas-powered community building: a facility with four showers, four toilets, sinks, and a community kitchen—all powered by fuel made by waste processed through a biogas digester installed below the facility. Residents pay a nominal fee to use the showers and kitchen.

This project has a number of benefits. The kitchen provides an income-generating opportunity for local residents, who can sell their cooked products. It also introduces a low-cost and eco-friendly alternative source of energy, reducing local consumption of forest area and coal. It has also increased the knowledge and understanding of sanitation practices (such as hand washing) and the dangers of open defecation. The project further benefits the local community through the employment of people to run the facility, including four staff, an overseer, two guards and a cleaner. Collaboration with the local authority, who took over the management of the facility after two years, ensures the sustainability of the program. It covers its own costs as all users pay a nominal fee for the use of showers and the kitchen.

The Kindu Trust is now entering the second phase of the project, which replicates the biogas sanitation facilities in two other areas. Both areas are overpopulated, impoverished, and lack adequate sanitation. The second stage will build on findings from the first program to advance the benefits of the facilities.