Sanitation technologies in pit emptying, Nakuru, Kenya

by Zaitun Kanenje, Nakuru Water and Sanitation Services Company, Kenya

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On-site sanitation systems (OSSs), such as septic tanks and pit latrines, are a critical component of ensuring access to toilets in both rural and urban areas, and this is not limited to underdeveloped countries. OSSs currently serves more than 2.7 billion people worldwide, with that figure expected to rise to 4.9 billion by 2030. Despite improvements toward the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to increase access to improved sanitation, investments in subsequent steps, such as the safe collection, disposal and treatment of faecal sludge (FS) from OSSs, remain a significant challenge.

In Nakuru, sanitation is a critical urban challenge. There is little support directed towards urban sanitation as most of the political and financial support has been focused towards other avenues not related to sanitation technologies. Much of the efforts by the local and international actors has been particularly focused on rural areas and therefore the situation regarding pit emptying is less controlled which is a major challenge given the exponential rate of urbanization in Kenya.

In view of urban growth rates and more populations living in urban areas, proper urban sanitation technology is essential in improving the quality of life in urban areas. Urban geographical locations call for different models of pit emptying. To address this Nawassco, Finish Mondial Kenya and Waterworx have developed different technologies, designs and strategies that cover the technical issues such as rapid population growth, obsolete infrastructure, minimal space, high cost of sustainable materials and insufficient water supply observed in most urban areas. Different pit emptying options are provided to the populace for adoption, depending on geographical, spatial, economic and preference factors.

On-site sanitation methods include toilets that are linked up to septic tanks and pit latrines. Offsite sanitation methods included flush toilets that are hooked up to the sewer system. Most of the people, though, used pit latrines, the cost of which was paid for by the plot owners. In Nakuru, faeces, toilet paper, flush water, grey water, chemicals, and solid waste like clothes, shoes, bottles, sanitary pads, waste vegetables, hair, condoms and other things make up faecal sludge. This therefore provides the need for suitable pit emptying technologies.

Geographic information



City and population:



  • Flooding of pit latrines during the wet season, collapsing toilets, sewer blockages, sewer overflow, sewer bursts, vandalism of sanitation infrastructure, open defecation and exhauster truck accidents.
  • Inappropriate disposal of non-human excreta solid wastes into the sewer manholes or toilets.
  • Lack of or unreliable water supply.
  • Limited engagement between the company and the stakeholders
  • High risk of ground water pollution due to high water table, depth of pit latrines, leaking containment facilities and unlined pit latrines.
  • Lack/limited enforcement of standards.


  • Designing and building toilet facilities according to the principle of universal design that is accessible to all.
  • Constructing toilet facilities that are resilient to climate risks based on an approved design catalogue.
  • Collaborating with other stakeholders for proper management of stormwater and non-excreta solid waste collection and management.
  • Collaborating with other stakeholders for protection of water resources from pollution.
  • Renovating dilapidated capture and containment facilities and promoting upgrading of toilets to fully contained systems.
  • Increasing access to low-cost water services and ensuring adequate and reliable water supply.

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Sanitation technologies in pit emptying, Nakuru, Kenya