World Water Week 2019: Sanivation Milestones, Inclusive Sanitation and Catalyzing the Circular Economy

Aug 21, 2019 · 4 min read

For those engaged in the WASH sector or development more broadly, you probably don’t need reminding that Sunday (August 25, 2019) marks the start of World Water Week in Stockholm. Since investing in Sanivation roughly 18 months ago, events like World Water Week have been elevated on our radar. With Sanivation playing an important role in Sweden, we thought this was a good time to give a quick update on the company and what they’ve been up to.

With its waste-to-energy solution, Sanivation promises to transform the way urbanizing communities in Africa handle the sanitation challenge. Sanivation safely treats fecal sludge and converts it to fuel briquettes that are sold as alternatives to charcoal and firewood for cooking and heating. This model is not only good for environmental reasons but also for economic ones, as it makes waste treatment a revenue source rather than a cost burden on communities.

Since we invested, Sanivation has blown through several important milestones:

  • The company proved its capacity to deliver in a population-dense setting. In 2018, it raised the ante by entering into a partnership with the city of Naivasha to provide its waste management service on a municipal scale. The result is a high-capacity waste treatment plant, the first public-private sanitation project of its kind in the entire country. Now operational, the Naivasha Treatment Plant (NTP) boasts a treatment capacity covering 10,000 people, and Sanivation is finalizing contracts with the local government and international design firm to expand operations to reach all Naivasha subcounty, 350,000 people. Sanivation also recently signed agreements with municipalities of Kisumu and Malindi to explore opportunities to expand their services to other geographies.
  • This expansion has also meant increased impact. In the first half of 2019 alone, Sanivation safely treated 314 tons of waste across two communities (Naivasha and Kakuma Refugee Camp). They sold over 330 tons of fuel to customers across Kenya, saving over 12,000 trees in the process. This impressive work was made possible by an amazing team of more than 98 full-time employees, a quarter of whom are refugees.
  • All this work is underpinned by world class technology. In November 2018, Sanivation received the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s (USPTO) Patents for Humanity Award. The patent itself, “Continuous Flow Methods and Apparatuses for Processing Human Waste,” was officially accepted and issued to the company in January 2019. It specifies the method behind binding feces and carbonized biomass material through thermal treatment and material mixing to form fuel briquettes.

With World Water Week approaching, the Sanivation team is busily preparing for the banner event. They will be collaborating on two sessions: “No One Left Behind: City-Wide Inclusive Sanitation Planning in Practice” and “New Financing Approach to Catalyze the Circular Economy.” In addition to Sanivation, these events will feature key sanitation stakeholders like The World BankNAIVAWASSWSUPUSAID WASH-FINSanergyFHI 360Grand Challenges Canada and global sanitation player and $120B+ company, Veolia. We are thrilled to see such a powerful group of funders, ecosystem supporters and sanitation operators convening to discuss how multiple stakeholders (public and private) can come together to create city-wide inclusive sanitation plans that enable implementation and showcase how circular economy models are working at scale, are more efficient and deserve large-scale financing for replication and impact.

The FINCA Ventures team can’t wait to hear the outputs from these discussions next week. While Sanivation is still early in their journey, given their impressive traction to date, we are not at all surprised to see them playing such an important convening role at World Water Week. As the company continues to embed itself in the sanitation narrative across sub-Saharan Africa, we’ll be boldly championing #Poo2Power along the way.

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