Sanitation companies making money from human waste

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Public sector businesses believe they are better equipped to tackle world sanitation problem

A severe lack of hygienic sanitation in developing countries throughout the world causes 700,000 deaths every year, according to World Bank, who say the problem is responsible for many development issues.

Many private and public sector initiatives have been set up to tackle the problem as the United Nations makes ‘universal access to hygienic sanitation by 2030’ one of their Sustainable Development Goals.

The senior manager of the World Bank’s Water and Sanitation Program (WSP), Jyoti Shukla, spoke out about the importance of safe sanitation for the world’s population. Ms Shukla said: “Stunting and malnutrition are directly related to poor sanitation; quality of learning and productivity is affected by sanitation; and dignity and empowerment of women and girls is influenced by how we deliver sanitation.”

Sanivation, a company based in Kenya, is just one of the private sector businesses tackling the issue. They install safe toilet stations in poverty stricken areas, slums and refugee camps and carry out weekly collections to remove the human waste.

Sanivation then treats the human waste at its processing plant, where it is mixed with agricultural products to create briquettes. The briquettes are then sold on to farmers who use them as fertilizer on their land. The business is making money from the collection of human waste, but the work that it is doing is important for developing countries.

Chief executive of Sanivation, Andrew Foote, believes that, in the case of providing safe sanitation to a wide network, private sector businesses are more effective than public sector and charity organisations.

Mr Foote said that, despite making progress: “…with rates of urbanisation and population growth, despite the efforts of many actors, the number of people lacking access to sanitation in sub-Saharan Africa and in urban areas has actually been increasing in the last 10 years.”

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