Take Taka

In Kibera – a large and poorly resourced suburb of Nairobi, Kenya - there is only one functioning toilet for every 2,000 people. There are no public sewage systems and public latrines serve a tiny percentage of the population. As a result, the majority of the population resorts to the use of ‘flying toilets’ – feces in plastic bags - which creates unhygienic and unsafe conditions for Kibera’s residents. This points to an increasing and urgent need for cost-effective and sustainable solutions of hygienic human waste disposal.

A number of sanitation initiatives and organizations exist in Kibera, but most of them only partially address the needs of the users. Needfinding revealed that the most significant family and community needs relating to sanitation are: convenience for all family members, safety, accessibility during day and night hours, hygiene, privacy and sustainability.

As a solution, we propose “Take Taka” (taka is Kiswahili for “waste”), a linked system including a bucket toilet in the homes of residents of Kibera and a daily pickup service. Each family/housing unit is allocated two-bucket toilets. A full bucket is collected from homes each day by a team of two individuals using rickshaw carts and their own labor. At the same time, the team delivers a clean bucket. These individuals then take the full buckets to nearby bio-digesters to be emptied, cleaned, and return them the next day (alternating out with the second bucket). Bio-digesters are sewage treatment plants that convert human waste into biogas, which can be used for cooking and electricity.

“Take taka” will be a non-profit organization, which will serve a consulting and advising function for community group-operated waste removal systems. It will operate primarily through a partnership with the Umande Trust – an NGO focused on water and sanitation in Kibera with whom we have established a strong relationship. It will facilitate the creation of partnerships with existing community organizations already running the bio-centers, and will entail the development of new partnerships as we expand.

Our Team:

Davis Albohm is a Masters student in African Studies. He has worked with several international NGOs including Amnesty International and International Rescue Committee. In March, he traveled to Nairobi to launch the partnership with Umande Trust.

Jess Auerbach is a PhD student in anthropology. She has worked in refugee camps in Mozambique and has spent time in Ghana and Ethiopia helping develop networks of youth activists across the continent.

Stephen van Helden is a student at the Graduate School of Business. He has experience working with Kenya Electricity Generating Company and also as a consultant on resource management and technology issues.

Zach Weiner studies symbolic systems – the relationship between humans and machines. He has taken five courses at the and recently founded a nonprofit technology startup.