Knowledge Centres for sanitation and waste management

Just a short note on an interesting e-mail I’ve received today on the ecosanres Yahoo!Group on ecological sanitation: The (dutch NGO) WASTE “on behalf of the Programme Board of the INTEGRATED SUPPORT FOR A SUSTAINABLE URBAN ENVIRONMENT (ISSUE) programme” puts out an open tender for Knowledge Centres with tasks related to sanitation and waste mangement.

This is an invitation for a bid for the provision and distribution of ‘knowledge’ for the implementing partners of the ISSUE programme for a period ending on December 31, 2010. …Interested parties who have the pre-requisite experience in running and managing Knowledge Centres are requested to submit technical and financial proposals and any other supporting documentation not later than 1 August 2008.

Why is this interesting?

  1. “Countries specifically asked to respond are: India, Vietnam, Benin, Kenya or Tanzania, Malawi or Zambia”
    Please note the “or”. As in: “one regional office will do.” Kenya vs Tanzania. Obviously, an opportunity for Kenyan experts.
  2. You may probably know that I am an admin at the Sustainable Sanitation Alliance (website, whose link i will not repeat because our website is currently being relaunched and still too shabby to be shown around…*cough* *cough*) and we or at least I quite frequently come across ppl who are willing to do something but are lacking the adequate funding and/or don’t know how to apply for funds. Neither do I! However, what I do know is that funds – as limited as they are – will be made available once there are suitable local partners. So, what is actually required (I think!) are much more local networks that will help those funding agencies to approach a local market. And with “funding agencies” I am not only talking about the usual suspects aka dev aid orgs who make a living out of “helping” the poor. Instead, think of businesses from abroad, companies from the US and Europe who would like to invest into an African market and often don’t know whom to approach at first hand. Such a “knowledge centre” for the reproduction and dissemination of knowledge could be a perfect incubator (ok, now that is vc lingua already) for healthy businesses.
  3. The assignments runs from 2008 till 2010, the end of the ISSUE
    programme. The total budget (3 years) for each KEN will be approximately:
    Latin America (Costa Rica):? ? 235000 Euro
    South East Asia (Vietnam):? ? 170000 Euro
    South Asia (India):? 145000 Euro
    West Africa (Benin):? 145000 Euro
    East Africa (Kenya or Tanzania):? 170000 Euro
    Southern Africa (Zambia or Malawi? 140000 Euro

Guys, what I am talking about is this upcoming market of sustainable toilet facilities that will rock communities across the globe in future. Just think of the Adopt-A-Light initiative (and what the GoK did to them once they realized there’s money to be made).
“Knowledge Centres”? – to me – are local networks that provide much more than just a nice budget for a two years period. Hence this open tender is a first qualification programme to see who will be able to pool other consultants/manufacturers in and who will prepare the market for the future.

In other words: THERE’S MONEY TO BE MADE FROM “WASTE”. Think about it next time you toss out stuff out of your car window or go to toilet.

(disclaimer: “sanitation as a business” is my favourite subject ….pole :-)

AOB: Link of the week – PicLens – an advanced image viewer plugin for FF that will provide you with a “haiiaaaaaa”-effect. Try it!

nimekuchagua wewe

Ingawa wapo wengi wazuri mamiii, lakini nimekuchagua wewe, tabia zako sawa na sura yako, nimeridhika kuwa na wewe…(“Afro”, Les Wanyika.)

It was a blessed morning, and something had made me get up early. Last night’s dream brought back pictures of an older Nairobi , the city whose sights & sounds had been lingering in my head for a while. For quite a while.

Finished watching “The Last King of Scotland ” last night. Despite of the story that somehow tries to paint a closer picture of Idi Amin’s rule in Uganda, one thing about that flick instantly made me fall for it: Ishmael Jingo ‘s “Fever” – a track the world has been blessed with since Duncan Brooker (where are you, man?) unearthed it some time ago and put it on his still marvelous “Afro Rock Vol.1” compilation we had been talking about earlier .

If there’s one thing that best describes situations, it should be music.

Ryszard Kapuscinski, the legendary polish journalist that died earlier this year just a few days after my Mzee, added another point that had left me thinking. In his book “The Soccer War“, he mentions the bars and pubs people had been attending during those days back in July 1960 when Patrice Lumumba was the man. Kapuscinski, who was supposed to fly to Nigeria only, took a flight to Cairo instead, another one from Cairo to Khartoum, and from there he and some other journalists somehow managed to drive into a completely lost Congo.

Would you take such a journey upon you only to spend the biggest time of the day locked up in a hotel somewhere in a boring 1960 Stanleyville , or Kisangani as it is called nowadays?

“The African Bar”, Kapuscinski goes on explaining Lumumba’s approach on people, “is like the Roman Forum (…). This is where people started listening to Lumumba’s speeches…(…)”.

So you’re sitting there, reading these lines and thinking to yourself: did this actually change since 1960?
Maybe there are less idealists out there since Lumumba – and where Kapuscinski still talks of Partisans who fought for uhuru & other theoretical goals, today’s world seems to be made up of HipHop proclamations and cyberwars. Welcome to the 21st century.

It’s one of those days that I start dreaming and think about how life must have been in the 1970s Nairobi. Life, as in nightlife. Clubs? Music? Styles?

It certainly was different from what I witnessed while growing up in a very futuresque Tokyo (Japan) in the 1970s. And what exactly is it with Nairobi – this once “Green City in the Sun”?

“Nairobi”, the lady asked me, “why would you want to live in a city like Nairobi? I stayed there for a few month and didn’t like it. All those houses with barbed wires and high fences – I wouldn’t like living behind a fence…”“Well”, I replied, “neither would I…but maybe you never saw its real beauty” .

Home is where your heart is, and mine is still somewhere out there (with a very Kenyan “somewhere there”, the hand pointing in no particular direction).

@AfroM & EGM: what happened to the Nairobi Architecture Group? Maybe a FlickrGroup?

AOB: doing a search on Nairobi via reveals blogs like Paul‘s that somehow remind me of my own blogged worlds (this & this, this & this, etc.)…his blog definitely is a must-see for all Nairobians in exile! :-)

Protestzug in Berlin

Lea von der Darfurgruppe Berlin bat mich heute, folgenden Aufruf zum Protestzug am 29. April 2007 in Berlin bekannt zu machen:

Stoppt das Morden in Darfur!

Vier Jahre nach Beginn des Völkermordes im Westen des Sudan ist die Lage der Zivilbevölkerung in Darfur schlimmer denn je zuvor: 400.000 Menschen sind dem Genozid schon zum Opfer gefallen, 2,6 Millionen Menschen mussten flüchten und die Gewalt hält weiter an. Dörfer werden bombardiert, Menschen werden vergewaltigt und vertrieben.

Die Zeit läuft ab für die Menschen in Darfur. Vor drei Jahren hat die Afrikanische Union einen Waffenstillstand vereinbart und Friedenstruppen entsandt. Doch bis heute wird die Zivilbevölkerung nicht wirksam vor Gewalt und Menschenrechtsverletzungen geschützt.

Deswegen wird das weltweite Bündnis “Globe for Darfur” am 29. April 2007 den dritten Global Day for Darfur veranstalten. Zum ersten Mal wird auch die deutsche Beteiligung über eine Pressekonferenz (wie beim letzten Mal) hinausgehen. Bitte setzen Sie sich mit uns dafür ein, dass die Europäische Union aktive Schritte unternimmt, um den Völkermord in Darfur zu beenden.

Bitte schließen Sie sich unserem Protestzug durch Berlin an, der am 29. April 2007 um 10 Uhr vom Pariser Platz vor dem Brandenburger Tor zum Potsdamer Platz läuft, auf dem um 11 Uhr 30 eine Abschlusskundgebung stattfindet.


Excuse me, but…

…what’s the use of having an exhibition on waste management INSIDE the UN compound in Gigiri (Nairobi, Kenya)? Inside where you need to obtain a visitors pass first to eventually get some interesting informations? And btw, why should we inform the experts if instead the wananchi should be addressed?

Similar frustration comes when you’re thinking about all these organizations and institutions in Kenya that are not networked. Although it just takes a few phone calls and a round table to meet and discuss some things.
Think of water projects, think of shared GIS maps & other digital data, think of sharing contacts and other interesting informations you won’t find online. At least, aren’t all these projects aimed at improving the country? Yet, many only start from scratch and still waste a lot of time on getting organized & networked.

Tell you what: I tend to start believing in a structurized environment where change should actually be dictated by the government in terms of gazetted acts.

I was thinking about a battery project where we put a deposit of let’s say Ksh 1 or 2/= on every battery sold in Kenya and then return them to manufacturers for recycling / reuse. The good part: the mbeca-incentive. The bad part: battery recycling @ Eveready? Hmm…

==> There are a lot of interesting, really modern and high-tech things/technological projects going on in Kenya these days – but many of these fancy & expensive brochures that have been printed with the help of the UNDP or other donors have no real meaning to me as they WILL (!) only be used for lighting up the jiko in rural areas. And the brochures, as it seems, are the first output which is generated.

My advice to all over-funded organizations out there: GET A LIFE…and start producing some practical output that people really need.

The Collector of Worlds

Anyone remembers Binyavanga’s comment on “Nairobi people living in two different worlds?”. It is so true. Again and again.

There was this public reading (organized by the German Cultural Centre (Goethe-Institut) & the German Department @ University of Nairobi) by Ilija Trojanow and Binyavanga Wainaina at the Goethe Auditorium (@ Maendeleo ya Wanawake House – used to be one of Nairobi’s tallest buildings in the 1970s!) on Thursday evening. They jointly read passages in German and English from a new book by Ilija Trojanow about Sir Richard Francis Burton, a “Mecca pilgrim and world traveller” (btw, Burton also introduced the first edition/translation of the Indian Kamasutra books to the UK among other stories). Ilija wrote a biographical novel aptly titled “Der Weltensammler” (The Collector of Worlds) on R.F.Burton – a man who was just as mysterious and sort of multicultural cosmopolitan as the author himself. Someone who kept track of his Wanderlust and never really stuck to a place. But whereas Burton’s wife eventually burned all his diaries, Trojanow has been an active publisher and promoter of books. I like Ilija’s picturesque style of describing situations, and how he manages to combine all these different worlds under one roof by using different characters / perspectives in his book.

I had read about this event in the Daily Nation on Tuesday and instantly knew it would be a perfect chance to meet some old friends at the GI. Ilija used to be a student @ the German School in Nairobi way back in the 1970s/80s and has since then often returned to the country. He’s a third culture kid like most of us out here in the blogosphere (all Nairobians are to some extent, ama?) and seems to have an understanding of the culture in the colonial East Africa and how to describe it in his book through the eyes of Burton. An interesting story.

I think it is against this background that made him write a novel on such a controversial character Burton was. And of course the Arab + East African connection: Trojanow recently  accepted (not: converted to!) the Islam as his religion because parts of his family already share that believe (and for other, much more intimate reasons which he disclosed in other interviews online. Reasons that make me understand this rather unusual, but very motivated move) . Burton disguised as a Muslim pilger in order to go on a pilgrimage to Mecca (he even received a circumcision to fully prepare for the pilgrimage!) – something Trojanow also achieved (~ getting a visa for Saudi Arabia) by living with the Deobandi in India for some time.


Binyavanga and Ilija are two very different characters who – in my opinion – have come around and have an understanding for the cosmopolitan context (both lived in SA, btw). An ability which is needed to describe situations – I guess you have to be some sort of collector to aggregate impressions/worlds and imagine them in your head before you can put them down in words. After all, it’s just not the beauty of the language that attracts people to read, but the way these worlds are combined / arranged and described using appropriate words. Both authors know how to do this – and have found their readers here and elsewhere.


Talking of B.Wainaina – Kwani? #4 will be out soon and hopefully available for the christmas market. All KenyanTourists (KTs) abroad should seriously think about getting their copy this time. Kwani #1,#2 & #3 have already been a success story and received with great interest by the public. Obviously, I couldn’t resist from asking both authors about a possible future cooperation, and the idea isn’t so far fetched…Kwani isn’t Wainaina’s only project – he told us about his 2nd (own) book which needs to be finished soon. Good luck!

Going to such events also includes meeting new people…new worlds…new stories. There’s this jamaa by the name of Bernhard we met tonight who came all the way from Germany to Kenya to do an internship at Kenyatta Hospital in Nairobi. Free of charge! Ok, there’s a scholarship that pays for his expenses, but nevertheless – most of you can easily imagine what it takes to work at Kenyatta Hospital. Bernhard told me that he also blogs his experiences. In any case: respect, bro!

Finally: Welcome home, Kui! (<= I would like to put a smiley here..)