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Namibian innovators to disrupt sanitation sector

by Kelvin Chiringa

A team of Namibian innovators have come up with a sustainable eco-friendly solution to the sanitation problem bedeviling Namibia with its pilot project set to be rolled out to 63 households in an earmarked village to the North. 

In Windhoek, the sanitation problem is prevalent in informal settlements and the innovators have brought within the circle of solutions what they call the Namibia Eco-Sustainable Toilet (NEST).

Simplistically put, the innovation is a portable toilet seat that comes with a lead and a movable stool collector which does not need the use of water to flash away excretion. 

Speaking to the Villager on the inspiration behind the innovation and its viability within Namibia, leading innovator and Chief Executive Officer of the innovation company Worldview Investments, Kaveto Tjatjara says with this solution the days of water intensive toilet technologies are numbered.

“Using water that we will have to drink for flashing is not sustainable because then it means we will have to spend millions of money to buy chemicals to purify it. We should be saving a lot of money and begin making use of solutions that are not water intensive,” says the articulate University of Capetown graduate.

Tjatjara and his team of graduate innovators who have brought around this technology a melting pot of diverse academic experiences.

The team comprises Metavelo Kayofa: Chief Technical Officer, Charles Urinavi CA(Nam): Chief Financial Officer, Julius Eino: Chief Marketing Officer and Joas Kazetjikuria Pr (Eng): Chief Operations Officer.

They have already secured some funding to aid the pilot phase roll out although they will not be enough to aid mass production if the pilot is to be a resounding success.

He says after the success of the pilot phase; he intends to throw the eco-solution in the mainstream by installing it right across the country at a cost of N$4 000.

“We came to that cost because we realised that people spend between N$4 000 to N$6 000 on smart phones and other luxuries,” he defends himself when queried about the solution’s costs.

While it remains to be seen is middle income earning people will welcome the innovation, the reality on the ground is that those in dire need of sanitation facilities are either in the rural areas or living in informal settlements.

Majority of these are either jobless or employed in low paying jobs, making the access to the innovation at such a cost unreachable.

However, Tjatjara counters, “We are thinking that there should be a subsidy to allow for people who can’t afford to have access to the innovation.”

Tjatjara this week entered the projects defense and advocating contest at Pitchnight in a rare stint to attempt at securing funding for it to enable a smooth roll out of the innovation.

The innovation received the warm welcome of United Nations Resident Coordinator Kiki Gbeho who said it was presently relevant as it speaks directly to the UN Sustainable Development Goal 6 which aims to “ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.”

What is interesting about this project is the fact that human excreta are not flashed out or thrown to waste, but are mixed with sow-dust or Sodium bicarbonate within the collection tank which destroys pathogens making it a fertilizer for crops. 

In a presentation at a recent Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) presentation, South African based researcher Zachary Donnenfeld warned that the current levels of access to improved sanitation are expected to even get worse.

Meanwhile the City of Windhoek this week has also launched its Youth Entrepreneurship Development Strategy which targets young people from 18 to 35 years for empowerment.

Through this flagship initiative GRN seeks to leverage on innovative solutions for sustainable development in line with the UN ambitious SDGs. 

Speaking at the launch of the event on behalf of CoW’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Robert Kahimise, Head of Economic Development and Community Service Philemon Hambuda said, “Youths should tap into their intelligence and cultivate it. Use your hand to do business and your ability to talk with people.”