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Kibera slums community turns trash into cooking fuel

Extreme poverty, opens sewers, and lots and lots of trash: all are a part of normal conditions in Kenya’s Kibera. One of the largest slums in Africa, Kibera’s lack of sanitation services (or almost any government services) makes it a hotbed for disease. But an organization based within the community, Ushiriki Wa Safi, has implemented a concept that can help with at least one aspect of the unhealthy environment: using the massive piles of trash as fuel for community cookers for residents.

Developed in conjunction with international architectural firm Planning Systems Services Limited (PLANNING), the community cooker allows resident of the Laini Saba village to cook meals safely for a small price. The trash used for the cooker’s heat is collected by community members; recyclables and items that can’t be burned are separated out. The cooker does require a small amount of diesel fuel, but according to IPS, that fuel likely would “otherwise have been disposed of in a manner that further harms the environment.”

This isn’t Ushiriki Wa Safi’s first effort in the village: they’ve also built bathrooms and showers on the same small fee model. According to resident Nora Kaseu, all of this appropriate technology has made a real difference in her life: “For a very small fee I can cook the meal of my choice, bake, and even take a hot bath at the adjacent bathrooms as I wait for my food to cook.”

Know of similar efforts to transform environmental and health hazards into the foundation of a better life quality in the developing world? Share them with us…

via @jerryjamesstone and @derekmarkham

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Photo: the Kibera slums Credit: hris1johnson at Flickr under a Creative Commons license