Pit toilets are very common in rural Kenya. These toilets are basically holes in the ground with no water for flushing. Of course, they don’t always work well.
Due to this shoddy sanitation system, Maseno School – a large boarding school in western Kenya, found itself in a stinky mess. It all began when the school started construction on a brand new dormitory for its students. Human waste from the pit toilets started leaking into the nearby stream that provided fresh water to the local community.
This is when high school senior Leroy Mwasaru and his friends set out to fix this problem by turning sewage into fuel for the school’s kitchen. The kitchen used firewood for cooking, which was unhealthy for cooks and the environment as well.
They initiated the idea of producing biogas by harvesting human waste along with cow dung and organic waste from the school kitchen.
They built a Human Waste Bioreactor (HWB) which has an underground chamber to hold the human, animal, and kitchen waste. While microorganisms break down the muck, the process releases biogas…ready to use as a safe and clean source of cooking fuel.
The gas produced is then used in the kitchen to cook food, cutting the school’s cooking fuel costs in half while replacing firewood in the kitchen and improving health of the cooks.