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The WASHEM Model

A WASHEM Facility in Mombasa CountyThe Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Enterprise Model (WASHEM) brings together County Governments and private sector, with technical support from Maji na Ufanisi, to rehabilitate existing public toilets which are then handed over to rehabilitated youths for management. The partnership also builds new facilities after extensive needs analysis. When building new facilities the County Government provides land while the private sector provides funds. The facilities are built, managed by Maji Na Ufanisi who guarantee the funds invested are recouped by the investor before handing them back to the County Government. MnU signs a Contracts and land lease agreements with the County Government so as to ensure that when County Government administration changes, the WASHEM facility is not affected.

Scaling up

The WASHEM Model has been successfully piloted in Mombasa County (see background tab). The WASHEM model implemented in Mombasa County has demonstrated that WASH facilities can be run profitably as social business enterprises. The rationale behind scaling up of the WASHEM model is to contribute directly to youth empowerment (access to employment), health outcomes of the people living in informal urban settlements and increase human dignity. WASHEM also directly contributes to the aspirations of the Constitution of Kenya 2010; right to water-Art 43d; Shelter -43b; Equality and freedom from discrimination- Art 27; Human dignity - Art 28; Environment: clean and health environment- Art 42, 69, 70 (right and obligation); and Right to own property.

We are currently seeking for private sector investors to scale up the WASH model. Contact us for more information.

A WASHEM Facility in Mombasa CountySustainable Development Goal 6 seeks universal access to water and sanitation by 2030. According to UNICEF (2017) , universal implies all settings, not only to households, but also schools, health care facilities, workplaces and other public spaces. Urban informal settlements face daunting WASH challenges coupled with poverty which further limits access to WASH. Maji na Ufanisi has been in the WASH sector for over 22 years working with youth, persons with disabilities, women and the urban poor to advocate for improved WASH services.

Among Maji na Ufanisi’s lasting legacy in the WASH sector in Kenya is the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Enterprise Model (WASHEM), an innovative approach to funding sustainable WASH practices in urban areas and marginalized rural areas. The WASHEM model is derived from Maji Na Ufanisi’s first pillar “Water supply and sanitation modeling” which promotes the uptake of appropriate models for pro-poor water and environmental sanitation solutions.

The WASHEM model brings together County Governments and private sector, with technical support from Maji na Ufanisi, to rehabilitate existing public toilets which are then handed over to rehabilitated youths for management. The partnership also builds new facilities after extensive needs analysis. When building new facilities the County Government provides land while the private sector provides funds. The facilities are built, managed by Maji Na Ufanisi who guarantees the funds invested are recouped by the investor before handing them back to the County Government. MnU signs a Contracts and land lease agreements with the County Government so as to ensure that when County Government administration changes, the WASHEM facility is not affected.

This twin track approach (PPP and youth rehabilitation) is at the heart of the WASHEM innovation. First is the public-private partnership that allows the private sector to support the government in improving access to services using a social enterprise model. The second track is rehabilitation of youth, women and people living with disabilities (PLWDs) and empowering them through training and gainful employment. Rehabilitated youths are not permanently employed in the WASH facilities. Instead they are trained, mentored and equipped (through group formation and savings) to start their own businesses. Once this is done, a new batch of youth is employed creating a virtuous cycle of empowerment. At the core of the WASHEM model is sustainability.

The WASHEM model rides on four pillars:A WASHEM Facility in Mombasa County
  1. Accessible services. During the WASH rehabilitation, MnU uses universal design approaches by involving communities, government and experts to co-create universal spaces that are used by all including persons with disabilities, women and children. Access to WASH by these groups is often compromised when security, accessibility and clean WASH facilities are not available.   This approach makes the process cheaper with social benefits of inclusion (see SDG 11 ).
  2. Public-Private Partnerships. PPP is a key pillar of the WASHEM model. With increasing competition for government budgets from key sectors such as education, health and infrastructure, WASH budgets have been relegated to bare minimums. PPP is thus an essential component for scaling up and improving WASH services in informal urban settlements.
  3. Youth Empowerment. The WASHEM model is built around youth rehabilitation and empowerment. Youths from the surrounding community are employed and trained on how to start and run businesses. They are encouraged to form groups and trained on table banking and how to access loans from the youth fund and other sources. They also benefit from training and mentorship. Once the youths have been empowered, they are transitioned, supported and followed for one year to ensure they are successful. A new batch of youth is then employed and the process of empowering them starts again.
  4. Respect for the Environment. MnU designs green WASH facilities, often using renewable energy including solar and biogas. Solar is used for heating (public bathrooms) while biogas generated is used for cooking (in Nairobi informal settlements, one can cook in a biogas plant). Proper waste management provides healthy environments which foster a stronger quality of life for communities and reclaims open spaces where kids can play.
  5. Sustainability: - The sustainability of the WASHEM model is derived from five key pillars;
  1. Revenue generation – Each WASHEM facility is run as a social enterprise, generating revenue while providing social capital to the youths and local communities. The facilities remain public but a small fee is levied for use. This fee is then used to ensure that the facilities remain clean, accessible and profitable.
  2. Partnerships - Partnerships with the County Government, Community Based organizations and private sector promotes knowledge sharing and effective utilization of resources as well as access to technical and financial support from the private sector.
  3. Community buy in - The local community acts first as customers and as the source of manpower for the WASHEM facility. The community is able to access WASH and employment which increases health outcomes.
  4. Quality WASH – The focus of WASHEM is to provide safe, accessible and clean WASH for all. Women, girls and persons with disabilities are specifically targeted owing to their specific needs such as clean and private. Women are particularly sensitive to privacy and security. This is a WASHEM priority.
  5. Well defined and understood risk/mitigations. This is achieved by getting County Government buy in and signing land leases and MoU. Some of the risks that WASHEM faces include change of County Governance (every 5 years)

A WASHEM Facility in Mombasa CountyThe WASHEM model was first piloted in Mombasa County's Kongowea market in 2014 with funding from SIDA, where 60 public toilets were rehabilitated. The facilities were redesigned to be disability friendly and handed to youth groups for management. The youths were trained on basic business skills. The facilities were spread across Bangladesh, which is an informal settlement, public markets like Kongowea and Makupa markets, public spaces and public recreation sites like Kongowea, Pirates Beach, Buxton and Likoni bus parks, Makadara, Townhall, Nakumatt, Railways and Mama Ngina all within Mombasa County.

WASHEM creates self-sustaining WASH ecosystems in urban informal settlements in Kenya. The model has been successfully implemented in Mombasa County where MnU runs a total of 14 public WASH facilities that directly employ 30 youths and indirectly provide livelihoods for more than 1000 people, providing safe and clean WASH services to more than 10,000 beneficiaries in public spaces comprised of women, persons with disabilities and the general public. In Mombasa, MnU’s WASH facilities generate over Kshs 25,000 daily using a pay as you use revenue model.

In May 2015, MnU’s project in Kongowea public market was rated first out of over 900 projects that had been competing for an international award that was given by AMCOW (African Ministers’ Council on Water) and UNICEF. The most notable aspect of the project was its innovative way of transforming former street children into custodians of the rehabilitated WASH facilities.

Public-Private Partnerships

A WASHEM Facility in Mombasa CountyThe WASHEM model is a Public Private initiative for funding WASH. The PPP Knowledge lab defines a PPP as "a long-term contract between a private party and a government entity, for providing a public asset or service, in which the private party bears significant risk and management responsibility, and remuneration is linked to performance". In the WASHEM Model, a County Government is the public entity while the service is WASH and youth Empowerment. MnU and its private sector investors represent the private sector.

PPP Actors

  1. County Governments: The County Government ACT of 2012 cites as one of its objectives to “facilitate the development of a well-balanced system of settlements and ensure productive use of scarce land, water and other resources for economic, social, ecological and other functions across a county”.  The Urban Areas and Cities Act also note that County Governments “overall delivery of service including provision of water, electricity, health, telecommunications and solid waste management”.  For WASHEM Facilities, MnU signs an 8 year contract with the County Government that among other elements provides continuity guarantees.
  2. Private Sector Investors: Private sector actors provide funding and technical assistance to WASHEM. When funding for rehabilitation of a facility or building of a new facility is required (after a business case analysis), first MnU signs a contract with the County Government. The Contract enables the county Government to provide land through a land lease and provides guarantees that change of Government will not affect the facility operations. Next MnU seeks funding from private sector. Primarily MnU seeks commercial low interest loans that are then used to build the facility. Each facility is run as a private business focusing on quality service delivery, sustainability and revenue generation.
  3. Local Communities: Local communities are the second element of the “Public’ in the WASHEM PPP strategy. The community is seen as the beneficiary as well as the actual user. A typical WASHEM facility provides several benefits to the surrounding community including, first, clean and accessible WASH, as well as provision of employment to youths. The benefits provided to the youths and the surrounding community are the “social” element of the WASHEM Model.
  4. Maji na Ufanisi: Maji na Ufanisi brings her experience of over 22 years in WASH in Kenya. The WASHEM model in particular was developed to solve the sustainability challenges facing WASH in urban settlements as well youth unemployment.

Public-Private Partnerships

The key WASHEM beneficiaries can be described as:
A WASHEM Facility in Mombasa County
  • Youth – Access employment and earn livelihoods from WASHEM facility. They are also empowered through training, group formation and savings.
  • Women and persons with disabilities – For women and persons with disabilities, clean and accessible WASH in informal settlements is a priority. Privacy and security of the WASHEM facilities is aimed at ensuring that women, girls and persons with disabilities feel secure.
  • County Government – It the role of County Governments to provide clean WASH services. However, competing demands from priority areas mean that WASH budgets are small. WASHEM provides County Governments the opportunity to access funding from the provide sector and provide adequate WASH to meet its objectives.
  • Business Community and the general public: In majority of the WASHEM facilities, businesses, especially food kiosks are always at risk of water borne epidemics. WASHEM facilities contribute to better public health outcomes for the business community and the public.
  • Environment: WASHEM facilities are by design green and environmental friendly. Biogas and solar is used for heating (for bathrooms). Biogas also spawns other businesses such as gas distribution.
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