18 March 2014

Kenya: Introducing Solar-Powered Sanitation At Kakuma, Kenya

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World Water Day focuses attention on the link between water supplies and energy needs. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Kenyan partners are working on a project to use solar energy to improve sanitation for 100,000 refugees.

Human life requires water. Less obvious is the amount of energy required to maintain water supplies; pumping, distributing and sanitation are all energy-intensive activities. World Water Day 2014 draws attention to the connection between water and energy, advocating water and sanitation solutions that integrate the demand for both commodities.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and local partners are working on integrated solutions at the Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya (above), where about 100,000 people have found safe haven from East African conflicts. Previewing World Water Day March 22, CDC experts describe a project to introduce solar energy in water sanitation at Kakuma.

The Kenya Medical Research Institute and CDC staffs have determined that solar methods can treat human waste effectively. Kakuma camp refugees and staff are now involved in developing improved latrine designs and sewage treatment methods to achieve greater safety, sustainability and disease prevention.

"This is one small step to think about on World Water Day that could improve water quality by ensuring waste is appropriately managed ... while decreasing energy use and disease transmission," according to a CDC blog post.

Worldwide, 1.3 billion people lack access to electricity and almost double that number lack improved sanitation services. Increasing access to both can have an important impact on easing poverty, experts say.

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