Fuel made from human faeces keeps the home fires burning in Kenya

A girl waits to use a public toilet in the sprawling Kibera slum, home to about 1 million people in Kenya's capital Nairobi.
A girl waits to use a public toilet in the sprawling Kibera slum, home to about 1 million people in Kenya's capital Nairobi.PHOTO: REUTERS

NAKURU, Kenya (REUTERS) - A Kenyan company has taken the mantra "waste not, want not" to unusual lengths by using human faeces to manufacture briquettes for use for use in cooking and heating.

The fuel is made by workers from the Nakuru Water and Sanitation Services Company, who dry it, treat it in a kiln and carbonise it with sawdust at 300 degrees Celsius, and eventually press it into balls that are then sold by the kilo.

The production process also removes harmful pathogens and, of course, the unpleasant smell.

Only 1 in 4 Nakuru residents are connected to the town's sewer system, and waste is often dumped in storm drains and rivers, or buried in low-income areas.

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Officials said that, at first, it was hard to convince the local community to use the briquettes due to the taboo associated with human faeces, but residents are now embracing the product. "It doesn't have an odour, it cooks well, the fire burns well, You are able to cook fast and the briquettes burn for long", trader Grace Waka told Reuters.

As well as providing fuel, the project, which is supported by the SNV Netherlands Development Organisation and the European Union among other partners, also aims to protect the environment and improve sanitation, especially in poorer parts of the town.