Transforming Sanitation: A Joint Effort Between MUST (Kenya) and Aston University (United Kingdom)
Meru University of Science and Technology (MUST) hosted guests from Aston University in the United Kingdom. The guests who arrived in the University on Friday, 21st July, 2023 were received by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor in charge of Administration, Finance and Planning, Prof. Charity Gichuki on behalf of our Vice-Chancellor. The Team from Aston University included Prof. Pawan Budhwar, Prof. Prasanta Dey, Dr. Krishnachitainya Balthu, Dr. Laxmi Budhwaz and Varshita Dey. The MUST team included Prof. Charity Gichuki (Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Administration, Finance and Planning), Prof. Simon Thuranira (Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Academic and Student Affairs), Dr. Joy Riungu (Director, Sanitation Research Institute), Mr. Nephat Njeru (Finance Officer), Dr. Dorothy Kagendo (Lecturer, School of Health Sciences), Dr. Lillian Mworia (Assistant Registrar, Examinations), Dr. Guyo Huka (Director Center for Continuing Education), Dr. Amos Chege (Coordinator, Innovations), Mr. Daniel Maitethia (Lecturer, School of Pure and Applied Sciences), Mr. Michael Koome (School of Engineering and Architecture) and Ms. Alice Nekesa (Master of Science in Sanitation student).
In a remarkable collaboration between Meru University of Science and Technology (Kenya) and Aston University (United Kingdom), a groundbreaking project on feacal Sludge Management and Waste management has come to fruition. The project has seen the establishment of a Sanitation Research Institute at MUST and the installation of Urine-Diverting Dry Toilets (UDDT) facilities for the local communities surrounding MUST. The positive impact of this initiative is evident as the locals have expressed their immense gratitude and joy for the support received.
For many years, inadequate sanitation facilities have been a persistent challenge in many areas in Kenya. Lack of proper waste management and feacal sludge disposal not only pose serious health risks but also degrade the environment. Understanding the pressing need to address these issues, Meru University of Science and Technology, through the Project Lead Dr. Joy Nyawira Riungu (Director, Sanitation Research Institute) partnered with Aston University to make a meaningful difference in the lives of the local community.
The establishment of the Sanitation Research Institute (SRI) at MUST has been a milestone achievement. This dedicated institute conducts research, innovates solutions, and implements sustainable sanitation practices to tackle the sanitation crisis effectively. One of SRI’s most successful projects is the use of non-sewer technology to manage waste through conversion of waste into valuable end-products such as organic fertilizer and animal feed using the Black Soldier Fly.
One of the most significant outcomes of this collaboration has been the installation of UDDT toilets in the communities surrounding MUST. These innovative toilets offer a safer and more sustainable sanitation solution compared to traditional pit latrines. The urine-diverting feature helps separate waste, allowing for the effective treatment of fecal sludge and urine.
The introduction of UDDT toilets has been met with immense enthusiasm by the locals. Previously burdened with unhygienic and poorly maintained facilities, they now have access to improved and dignified sanitation infrastructure. Moreover, the eco-friendly nature of UDDT toilets aligns with the communities’ desire to preserve the environment and minimize their ecological footprint.
The impact of the sanitation project has not gone unnoticed by the local community. During the visit of the Aston University partners to the project site, the team was welcomed with open arms and heartfelt expressions of gratitude. The positive testimonials from the locals serve as a testament to the transformative effect that the project has had on their lives.
“I am grateful to the University for providing us with these new toilets. Our lives have improved, and we feel healthier and safer,” says Kananu, a resident of the Kunene community.
Another community member, Kendi, adds, “We are thankful for the support from Meru University of Science and Technology. This project has brought joy to our hearts and brightened our future.”
The successful collaboration between MUST and Aston University has set a promising precedent for future partnerships in addressing critical global challenges. With the Sanitation Research Institute now operational, ongoing research and sustainable practices will continue to uplift the lives of local communities and pave the way for healthier and cleaner environments.
As the project continues to unfold, it is evident that this joint effort will leave a lasting legacy in the pursuit of improved sanitation and waste management, not only in Kenya but also in other regions facing similar challenges worldwide.
So far MUST and Aston University have collaborated in the following initiatives since 2017;
- Paradigm Shift in Feacal Sludge Management for Food Security and Environmental Management.
- From Waste to Health and Wealth.
- Staff Mobility Programme.
The bio-resource based approach to sanitation was listed by UN-Habitat as a Top 20 Innovative Solution in September 2019. Additionally, MUST became part of the Global Sanitation Graduate School (GSGS). Under a IHE funded program, since January 2020, 342 students have been trained across various programs; Master of Science in Sanitation, Graduate Professional Diploma Programme (GDPD) as well as Short courses in Sanitation. Scholarships have also been available for these programs. A PhD and BSc curricula have been developed and were launched in January 2023.