How we’re turning human waste into clean cooking fuel

Did you know that you can buy household fuel made from human waste?

These briquettes made from poop are being processed by water and sanitation services companies of Nakuru and Naivasha in an attempt to boost environmental conservation efforts.

The method of collection has also improved sanitation in towns and villages, with the chemicals used to carbonise the waste and reduce its smell to make it easier to collect helping to make these areas easier to live in and walk through.

Winnie Guchu, a water and sanitation chief administrative secretary, says this is the best way to conserve Kenya’s forests that are under threat, while improving sanitation.

“This system will also see many youths get employment because they’ll help in the collection of waste from latrines and also help sell briquettes.”

Technical methods

Winnie is encouraging innovators to come up with more technical methods of environmental conservation and sewage management in urban regions and high-population rural areas.

“The challenges of sewage management are not only in city slums, but also in apartments where there’s a need for proper methods of sewage management,” she says.

Lydia Macharia has used the briquettes from human waste, and says the benefits over traditional charcoal cannot be highlighted enough.

“I use only 15 balls to cook a meal for two hours. I’ve never seen this kind of energy. Two kilos of the briquettes can cook more than five meals.”

She says she learnt about the briquettes after her friend brought her a two-kilo bag to try out.

Three-quarters of the way into the bag, Lydia was a convert and was ready to completely switch from charcoal to the briquettes.

“The balls don’t smell at all, but I cook outside. I’m yet to use the briquettes inside a kitchen and find out if indeed the balls would produce a smell in a more enclosed space,” said Lydia, adding that the human waste innovation doesn’t produce smoke either.

“I now advocate for the briquettes because this is a method of environmental conservation that doesn’t destroy our trees like charcoal does. I want Kenyans to know the importance of conserving our forests because we’ve witnessed many cases of drought. The use of human waste briquettes is the way to go.”

Lydia buys her briquettes from the Nakuru and Naivasha sanitation companies. A two-kilo bag costs Sh60, against upwards of Sh120 for a similar bag of charcoal.

“I’m encouraging the youth to make use of the opportunities created by the Ministry of Water and Sanitation and join in the process of collecting human waste as a method of conservation.”