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!

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..)