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Public Washrooms Project

On our visit to Kenya in January 2020 our local partners presented us with an idea to build a much-needed public washrooms building (showers and latrines) in the Kibera slum. They had already established themselves as a Community Based Organisation (CBO) to manage the micro-enterprise loan scheme and were looking to expand what they could do to improve living standards for the slum community.

Given an initially tentative green light, there followed a huge amount of hard work by our local partners in exploring options and checking legalities plus a number of generous donations from the UK and beyond, some of which were donated via Living Waters Social Enterprises charity whom we partner with. Then in November 2020, our local committee was able to buy a suitable piece of land, build a caretaker's house, and secure the site with fencing to keep it safe so the building work could begin.

Since then, progress has not always been easy, with a number of local and cultural challenges to overcome, and not a little opposition, but we're delighted to report progress.


January 2020

"Can you help us build a washrooms, with a library/community room on top, and a children's daycare centre?"

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November 2020

Purchase of  a piece of land on the slum. 27' x  63', enough for a washroom and a childcare centre.

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December 2020

Initial plans drawn up. Four shower and six toilet cubicles, plus handwashing and clothes washing facilities.

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Caretaker's house

February 2021

The site has been cleared, the boundary re-secured (some of the fence panels were stolen) and the caretaker's house built.

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Setting out

July 2021

Work on the washrooms building begins on the ground.

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July 2021

Concrete and stone foundations to provide a secure basis for the stone walls and reinforced concrete roof to come.

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July 2021

All building materials need to be carried to the site by hand. There are no access roads, just narrow, uneven passageways between the shacks.

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August 2021

The concrete floor is down and the walls and re-inforced pillars are under way to give an impression of how the layout will work. Separate sides for male and female.

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August 2021

Not everyone wants to see the project succeed. Opposition has been delivered more than once through personal threats and even malicious vandalism of our foreman's own business. 

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August 2021

The ground floor walls are in place and preparations complete in readiness for the concrete for the roof / first floor.

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First floor

September 2021

Laying the concrete in one day was no mean feat. Everything needed to be mixed by hand and then carried (by hand) up to the roof level to be poured and vibrated.

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October 2021

With the roof slab set and the temporary shuttering removed the next step was to secure the structure from occupation by squatters. Now attention will turn to internal fitting-out.

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Internal finishes

November 2021

A great deal of attention is paid to the rendering of the indoor spaces so they will be hard-wearing and practical. They need to withstand high volumes of traffic and at the same time be easy to clean and maintain.

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External finishes

December 2021

Despite seasonal rains, work has continued on the external finish of the washrooms building.

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Clearing the site

January 2022

Engaging local children to help clear debris from the site while the internal decoration continues. They are happy to work for a good meal each.

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Sewer connection

February 2022

Finding an appropriate route through the slum for the sewer pipe and "negotiating" with the local "youth" was not without its challenges. 

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Water tank

March 2022

The inconsistency of water supply means that the washrooms require a 10,000 litre tank to operate on a daily basis. Its purchase was relatively straightforward, but getting it to site was a whole lot more problematic.

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Community hub

April 2022

Even though the washrooms aren't (quite) ready to open, the space is already becoming a focus for the local community, with a few casual traders selling their wares (avocados and shoes).

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May 2022

This month has mainly been about addressing outstanding problems like power supply issues, intermittent water pressure, and fly-tipping around the perimeter. One by one they have been resolved and ticked off the list.

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Open for business

June 2022

It has been a rollercoaster of a journey, with highs and lows and many challenges along the way, but with our new manager (Mary) in place, the washrooms are now open for use by the local community.

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Levelling the courtyard

November 2022

Kicking off the next phase of development by clearing and leveling the remainder of the site in preparation for a perimeter wall and gates. Not only will this make the facility more secure, but the walls will in time provide the basis of further rooms for community activities.

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Secure space

December 2022

The perimeter wall and the gates are now in place securing the space for future development. Accessible when the washrooms are open, it already provides a relatively safe place in which neighbouring children play. 

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Happy New Year

January 2024

With thanks to the local committee, the washrooms have been open, and sustaining themselves for 18 months. And 2024 is starting well as they continue to provide community services and local employment, have money in the bank to invest, and have a vision for further development.

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