The influence of ecological sanitation on the improvement of livelihoods of people living in informal settlements a case of mji wa Huruma bio-centre
The purpose of the study was to investigate the influence of ecological sanitation on the improvement of livelihoods of people living in informal settlements. The study focused on the case of Mji wa Huruma's Bio-Centre project and was guided by the following objectives: to assess the extent to which technical skills imparted to the community has improved the livelihoods of people living in the informal settlements; to assess the extent to which environmental awareness & sanitation promotion has improved the livelihoods of people living in the informal settlements; to establish the relationship between the level of financing of the ecological sanitation systems and the improvement of livelihoods in informal settlements; and to evaluate the effectiveness of the management of the ecological sanitation systems on improvement of livelihoods of people living in informal settlements. The literature review provided a global/regional view of sanitation and ecological sanitation; and explained the influence of ecological sanitation on improvement of livelihoods of people in the informal settlements. The research design was descriptive in nature and utilized a mixedmethods design; in particular, an explanatory mixed methods design. A mixed method of sampling was used to select the sample size which was ninety six (96) in total constituting officials of Mji wa Huruma's Bio-Centre project and Mji wa Huruma residents. Data was collected by administering questionnaires, use of focus group discussions and observation and then analyzed using both quantitative and qualitative methods. The collected data from the questionnaires and interview guides was analyzed using Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) program. Study findings indicated that although it is evident that ecological sanitation has influenced the improvement of livelihoods of people living in informal settlements through technical skills imparted to the community, environmental awareness and sanitation promotion, level of financing and effectiveness of the management of the ecological sanitation, there are a few mechanisms that are either not known to the residents or are not functioning as stated by the officials. For instance, the researcher established that the small fee charged for using the Bio-latrine discouraged quite a number of residents from using the facility. Also, lack of electricity at the Bio-Centre encouraged the use of pit latrines and to a large extent open defecation during the night hours. Lastly, the state of Ruaka river was not good since a lot of human activities were being undertaken on the river plus all the drainage systems in the settlement were directed towards it. The researcher recommended to UNEPlUmande trust that electricity should be installed at the Bio-Centre to enable the community to use the facility during the night. Also, in order to encourage the use of the Bio- Centre by the entire population thereby realizing the full effects of ecological sanitation, UNEPlUmande trust should for a specified period (two years) bear the cost of operating the facility. A further study should be undertaken with a larger sample that includes Bio- CentreslBio-latrines all over Kenya, as different results may be found.