By Odindo Ayieko
Proper sanitation and storm water management remain as two of the major challenges for devolved governments in Kenya as they grapple to improve on service delivery to citizens.
Bringing innovative solutions and providing and maintaining safe off-site and decentralized sanitation systems, cannot happen without new investment and human technical capacity – particularly considering the growing population density in urban centers.
Megapipes Solutions, a new company in Kenya, is offering larger diameter plastic pipes to meet the challenge of poor sanitation through the use of Weholite which has been tried and tested across Europe, North America and several African countries including Tanzania and South Africa.
Weholite is a lightweight, engineered structured wall pipe made from high density polythene (HDPE) and is used extensively around the world in low pressure or gravity applications for drinking water storage, storm water, sewage and various other liquids.
Polyethylene pipes, first installed in the 1950s, are known to be a reliable, long-term solution for water, stormwater and sanitary systems. Science has since proven that HDPE pipes such as Weholite lasts for over 100 years.
“Weholite offers distinct chemical and physical advantages over other more traditional materials. Superior hydraulics and abrasion resistance means that it will not corrode or deteriorate over time, making it a long-lasting solution for projects in Kenya,” Consulting Engineer Ranjit Singh Rupra of Mangat I.B Patel and Partners.
“New production techniques have been combined with the latest raw materials technology to produce a durable pipe system with superior load-bearing properties, making Weholite the preferred solution for many municipal and industrial applications in both the public and private sector – including stormwater management, sewage treatment systems, culverts, marine pipelines and irrigation water distribution.”
Kenya failed to achieve its Millennium Development Goal for increasing access to water and sanitation. Only 30% of Kenyans have access to improved sanitation, or the use of sanitation facilities that hygienically separate excreta from human contact. This means that approximately 30 million Kenyans are still using unsafe sanitation methods like rudimentary types of latrines, and almost six million are defecating in the open.
Access to improved sanitation is a major challenge both in urban and rural areas. It costs the country an estimated US $ 324 million annually for the gaps in its sanitation and hygiene services according to a World Health Organisation and UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme.
In urban areas, the challenge is even more daunting as urban growth outstrips the provision of basic services, sanitation included. Moreover, urban planning hardly precedes settlement, making it much harder for utilities to provide water and sanitation services.
At the same time, having a toilet, either connected or not connected to a piped wastewater system is only one part of fecal waste management.
Sanitation in the urban areas is further compounded by the inter-linkages with other services including storm water drainage, solid waste and water supply.
Narok county boasts as the first county in Kenya to invest in the new weholite technology as part of its plan to improve on its sanitation.
The county which is 120 kilometers off the capital Nairobi has had no proper sanitation over the years.
According to the county’s Water, Environment and Health minister John Kiyiapi, as a temporary solution, the county had set aside a quarry near Narok town as a disposal area but was later shut down last year by the National Environment Management Authority (Nema) after the quarry got full and was spilling into the adjacent Enkare Narok River.
“Although we had good temporary spaces that the county government had designated, the population of Narok is rapidly growing creating pressure on the disposal areas. Similarly, it became increasingly expensive for residents to keep using exhausters,” Mr Kiyiapi said.
“It is because of these reasons that the county resolved to invest in a quality sewer system that would be installed in little time with few man-power, would require very little maintenance and would have a long lifespan decades to come,” he added.
The Narok Water and Sewerage Company Managing Director Stanley Kuyioni says the sewer project would play a significant role in facilitating the development of the county, further noting the system is critical for the housing sector, health sector and urbanisation.
“Most of the diseases treated at our health centres and hospitals are wash related. Issues such as open defecation is a serious problem as there are no other available alternatives. The project has, therefore, come at a good time and will greatly help the county achieve a good quality of life for its residents,” he added.
Weholite pipes will be readily available in Kenya with the construction of a factory for manufacturing of the large diameter plastic pipes for drainage and sanitation Projects in Kenya and neighboring countries, already under way in Ruiru in Kiambu county.
Megapipes will be manufacturing innovative, state-of-the-art products for the growing requirements of water storage, sanitation and drainage projects in Kenya, contributing to the local economy and industrialization process and avoiding importation of such products.