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Using black soldier fly to manage faecal waste

 Meru University of Science and Technology personnel show how the black soldier fly is deployed to manage faecal waste. [Phares Mutembei, Standard]

With research indicating that a majority of Meru residents lack proper sewer services, sanitation is a major challenge.

Most residents in villages use non-sewer systems, mainly pit latrines, posing a challenge in waste management.

An innovative system by the Meru University of Science and Technology (MUST) has come up with a non-sewer technology, using the Black Soldier Fly (BSF) to manage faecal waste.

The waste is converted into useful end-products such as organic fertiliser and insect-based animal feed using the black soldier fly.

A section of residents and schools around the university's main campus at Nchiru have benefited from the innovation, with the developers now seeking partnerships with county governments and others to spread it to more people.

Dr Joy Riungu, the Director of the Sanitation Research Institute at the university, says that only five per cent of the county population is connected to the conventional sewer, posing a major challenge in waste management for the rest.

"All the other people are using the non-sewer sanitation, and mainly the pit latrines," said Dr Riungu.

Riungu, an expert in sanitation started working with the community to help them safely manage their waste, in partnership with the UK's Aston University.

Prone to flooding

She said communities such as the one at Nchiru in Tigania West Sub-County had a major sanitation challenge due to various factors.

"For one it is a poor neighbourhood and it is also prone to flooding," she said, adding that when the pit latrines fill up the residents have to dig another and so on.

Riungu said it was in view of that fact that they had to develop an innovation to help the communities improve and manage the waste to improve sanitation and avoid inconveniences.

"We are using the black soldier fly technology. The BSF are tropical insects and are good converters of waste. It can be able to convert any organic waste within a maximum of 14 days to resources in the form of proteins and compost," she said.

The households in the community are provided with actively feeding seven-day-old black soldier fly larvae.

"The key thing in providing these larvae in the container is to start the conversion process on site. This ensures that there is no waste accumulation. It is converted as the toilets are used," she said.

Riungu said the product is a non-smelly substance which requires only two days to complete the conversion process.

She said they ensure the urine and faeces are separated at the source, which reduces the smell. She is seeking partnerships to provide safe sanitation in rural communities.

"I am really looking forward to partnerships. When you provide safe sanitation to the community you do what you feel has impacted these particular communities. These communities are poor. The money that they have, other than spending it in hospitals treating diarrhoea they can use it for buying food".

"I am really looking for partnerships with counties and would want to tell them that improving sanitation is not expensive. It just needs you to take it as a priority. If you need healthy communities, provide them with safe sanitation," she said.

Professor Prasanta Dey of Aston University said the project addressed the problem of waste management.

He said not only does the innovation address the sanitation challenge, it also had the potential to contribute to the food supply chain.

He said there were a lot of benefits to be derived from the innovation, in terms of the production of high-quality products from the faecal sludge.

"We found there are loads of benefits if we could adopt that into the system which will not only bring revenue to the users but will also keep the environment clean and take care of the health and well-being of the people," said the don.

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