From shack to a toilet mall: How I moved with my toilet to the city

By David Kuria, CEO of Ecotact Limited, IkoToilet and Africaqua

Standing in the chilly, drizzling night of April, I debated whether to dash some 100 feet to the corner of our garden, where a little shack of rafters and mud—with a severely torn sack for a door and without a roof above—served as our toilet. The floor was laid with wood poles, with enough gaping separations that I could fit my leg through. I was not convinced I would make it, and my stomach was not giving into the demand to wait till morning.

That was three decades ago.

A decade later, I was admitted in Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology for an architecture degree in Nairobi. On admission to the residence hall, with the toilets and showers designed at the intersection of two wings, and at least with lights, I felt relief.

I quickly learned how to use a flushing toilet. I could not fathom how much water was being used and the amount of pressure just to flush a few grams of waste—but it was fun flushing. It was even greater fun trickling water for a shower, especially because I’d come from a village where we could only take a bath from a small jerry can.

My visits to a toilet in the city of Nairobi after my graduation were never very welcoming. These communal spaces were inhabited by street boys, clad with dirt and holding the muddy waste, ready to paint your face if you didn’t part with some coins. The toilets were dirty, stretches of feces from one end to the other, urine flowing towards the entrance, like a rude welcome gesture—nostrils closing from the emanating ammonia smell.

When I was faced with the possibility of clean, functioning toilets with running water a decade later, I knew I had to do something for our cities. The IkoToilet idea was born. This would be an urban toilet structure; it would be safe, clean, and convenient and we would add on utilities—like the sale airtime cards (which allow Kenyans to buy minutes and data for their phones) and M-pesa transfers (which allow them to make mobile money deposits/transfers), plus snacks and shoeshine services to ensure economic sustainability. This idea became a reality and now we have “toilet malls” across Kenya serving more than 10 million customers per year.

Today, when I look back, I agree with UN General Secretary Ban Ki-Moon: “We have a moral imperative to end open defecation and a duty to ensure women and girls are not at risk of assault and rape simply because they lack a sanitation facility.”

This is a dignity issue, and we must face it head on, both governments and the private sector.

David Kuria is a Ph.D. Researcher on Project Management and CEO of Ecotact; He is a 2015 Aspen Institute New Voices Fellow.

Inkua Donkey Cart Design Competition winners awarded

The Inkua donkey cart design competition curtain came down Wednesday, November 18, 2015 with the winning team taking home Kshs. 100,000. The competition that commenced July, 28, 2015 was organized by the College of Engineering and Technology (COETEC) in collaboration with Africaqua and

The challenge attracted 18 teams drawn from various Engineering programmes in Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology. The teams were tasked to come up with functional, durable, cost effective and genders sensitive donkey carts designs.

Speaking during the award ceremony, Africaqua Chief Executive Officer, David Kuria, said in order to effectively and holistically solve societal problems, there is need for the academia to link up with industries and engage in collaborative research and initiatives.

Mr. Kuria lauded the students for taking time out of their normal studies to engage with the local communities for the success of the competition and said he was confident that the prototype that will emanate from the designs presented would be efficient and effective for water transportation especially in the rural area.

Acting Vice Chancellor, Prof. Romanus Odhiambo thanked Africaqua and for their effort in ensuring that the competition ran smoothly and was pleased by the number of female students who took up the challenge.

“I want to commend Africaqua for the work they do with the local communities and encourage them to keep up the excellent work of enhancing people’s livelihood especially those in rural areas,” said Prof. Odhiambo.

He also encouraged the student to take up such opportunities and come up with ideas that will make a difference in the community, improving people’s livelihood.

Principal COETEC, Prof. Bernard Ikua was impressed by the determination and teamwork shown by the teams and challenged Africaqua and other organisations to bring more challenges like this one, assuring them that JKUAT has a great pool of innovative and creative students who will always rise up to the occasion.

The winners of the competition, Maelo Sabasaba and Maina Muiruri, 5th year students, Mechanical Engineering, thanked all parties responsible in making the competition possible and guaranteed them that it has enabled them put into practice the skills and knowledge learnt in class.

“I am glad that we were part of this noble competition. It has not only enabled us put in practice what we learnt but has also enabled us play a part in solving a real life problem facing our society,” said Sabasaba.

The jury of the competition comprised of Eng. Reuben Mutevu, Dr. K. Njoroge and Mr. David Kweri. The prototype of the donkey cart design will be out by the end of February, 2016.


Courtesy: Jkuat Corporate Communications Office

An Accelerator That Believes Businesses and Girls Are the Keys to Africa’s Future

Women and girls are undervalued in societies across much of Africa. Spring’s goal is to support businesses that not only create goods and services that address the needs of girls, but that involve girls on the operational side as well. “Girls tend to make better employees and more reliable small entrepreneurs of their own,” Béhar says. “They tend to jump at opportunities when they come—so creating more opportunities for them is a great chance for an entrepreneur to get the best results out of their business.”

Sustainability and profit are not Spring’s only objectives. The program, which was initially conceived by the Nike Foundation, the United States Agency for International Development, and the Department for International Development, in the U.K., works with businesses to help them transform the lives of adolescent girls. “Girls are pretty invisible when it comes to business. That’s a big mistake,” says Rebecca Calder, Spring’s technical director and one of the world’s leading experts on the economic empowerment of adolescent girls. “They’re givers. They’ll re-invest in your business and in their own communities and in their families. And given the chance they’ll re-invest in themselves. There’s huge potential and it’s not tapped.”

David Kuria, a Kenyan architect and businessman, is the founder of AfricAqua, which aims to provide affordable and safe drinking water to communities across Kenya. Girls were not part of his original working model, but when Spring asked if he could revise his plans with girls in mind, he leapt at the chance. During the boot camp he decided to include schools in his distribution plan, all organized through student water clubs run by girls. “I’ll be able to train them to be ambassadors for safe water,” says Kuria, who intends to share revenue with the girls’ clubs. “We’re talking about almost 30,000 schools across the country with potential partnerships—that’s a major disruption of what I had initially thought about.”




Back row: David Kuria, Felix Kimaru, Galen Welsch, Roo Rogers, Moussa Habineza, Pierre-Damien Mbatezimana, Geoffrey Kobia, Yves Béhar, Andrew Foote, and Afzal Habib. Front row: Richard Bbaale, Linda Mukangoga, Dave Okech (in blue jacket), Abubaker Musuuza, Rebecca Kaduru, Gayatri Datar, Dr. Charles Kamotho, Gerald Otim, Leah Namugosa, and Cynthia Coredo. Photographed during the Spring Accelerator Boot Camp, just outside the grounds of the Masai Lodge, Nairobi, Kenya.
Photograph by Guillaume Bonn.



10 Reasons Why You Should Ensure You Drink Clean Water

  1. In order to capitalize on the health benefits of water, it is essential to draw from a clean source of water.
  2. Drinking impure, contaminated water is the leading cause of epidemic disease in developing countries.
  3. There are more than 2100 known drinking water contaminants that may be present in tap water, including several known poisons.
  4. Bottled water does not offer a viable alternative to tap water.
  5. Municipal water treatment facilities cannot always control for the outbreak of dangerous bacterial contaminants in tap water.
  6. The only way to ensure pure, contaminant-free drinking water is through the use of a point-of-use filtration system.
  7. Several types of cancer can be attributed to the presence of toxic materials in drinking water.
  8. Clean, healthy drinking water is essential to a child’s proper mental and physical development.
  9. According to the EPA, lead in drinking water contributes to 480,000 cases of learning disorders in children each year in the United States alone.
  10. It is especially important for pregnant women to drink pure water as lead in drinking water can cause severe birth defects.



AfricAqua and SEGI Environment sign pact on waste water treatment research

Despite the notion by many, that water is a free and unlimited resource, water is actually becoming a scarce resource each passing day due to mismanagement and pollution of the few natural catchments in the country and by extension the whole world at large.

Therefore in our endless passion to develop sustainable safe water innovations, we have signed a collaboration agreement with Korean based Segi Environment Company Limited to promote research areas of waste water treatment. The collaboration agreement was signed by Africaqua Founder and C.E.O Mr. David Kuria together with Segi Environment Company’s Chairman Dr. Kh Yang and the Director of Korea Trade Investment Promotion Agency with the Embassy of the Republic of Korea Mr. Song Pyong-II.

Segi Environment Company Limited has played an active role on environmental business since 1989 and has finally invented the water disposal plant among other concepts.

Among the key waste water management innovations that are provided by Segi include The Floating Purifier that has proven very effective in removing layers of green algae and restrain algae outbreaks on still water collection points such as ponds, lakes and waste water collection points. By providing fine space and environment for vegetation through its hexagonal honeycomb, The Floating Purifier increases filtration efficiency when placed on still water surfaces.

Segi Environment Company Limited also provides a Fiber Filter that is impressively efficient in sewage treatment and disposal plants. The Fiber Filter is an efficient alternative in the filtration facility to replace membrane separation method.

Segi has also developed a state of the art YAN-SBW System (Titanium Bio Ball). A process to purify the waste water by exposing the bio filter in the air and by sprinkling the wastewater over the exposed bio filter through the use of pump and nozzle. This system is very convenient for purifying rivers and streams project.

In addition Segi provides indoor and outdoor air cleaners to tackle the menace of fine dust in the atmosphere.

Africaqua Founder and C.E.O Mr. David Kuria (left) together with Segi Environment Company’s Chairman Dr. Kh Yang (Centre) and the Director of Korea Trade Investment Promotion Agency with the Embassy of the Republic of Korea Mr. Song Pyong-II (Right).

Africaqua Founder and C.E.O Mr. David Kuria (left) together with Segi Environment Company’s Chairman Dr. Kh Yang (Centre) and the Director of Korea Trade Investment Promotion Agency with the Embassy of the Republic of Korea Mr. Song Pyong-II (Right).

Donkey Cart Design Competition

Africaqua in collaboration with and Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology is running a competition among the engineering students geared towards coming up with a donkey cart that considers Human Factors and ergonomics. The competition closes on 15th September with the winning design taking home 100,000 Kenyan Shillings.

Africaqua is committed to ensuring that people achieve their human right to water and sanitation by making safe water as easily accessible as possible. As a social entrepreneurship based company, Africaqua is also committed at ensuring that people get access to safe drinking water at an affordable price by collaborating with stakeholders who share in their vision and who bring on board different expertise.


Inkua Water Cart Design Competition Launched in JKUAT University

Africaqua Limited in collaboration with Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology and launched the Donkey Cart Design Competition at the University’s Juja Main Campus on the 28th July 2015. The event launch was attended by the University’s Vice Chancellor Professor Mabel O. Imbuga, Deputy vice chancellor Prof. Romanus Odhiambo, Africaqua CEO David Kuria, Rep. Elizabeth Were, the Engineering department staff as well as the Engineering students. The launch event was an opportunity to discuss the competition brief with the University students.

The Inkua Design Competition will provide a chance for the University’s Engineering students to make a positive difference to their local communities, which largely rely on donkey carts in water distribution and carrying goods. Key aspects expected to be improved in the design of the Inkua Donkey Cart are its Carrying Efficiency, Donkey ergonomics, Durability, Cost-efficiency and Gender Sensitivity. The Inkua Donkey Cart should be easy to use and operate for both women and men in the society.

The closing date for submission of the Inkua Cart designs is on the 15th September 2015.

Africaqua CEO, David Kamau Kuria, Addresses Jkuat Professors at the Annual Professorial Luncheon

Africaqua CEO, Mr. David Kuria was the Chief Guest at the 2015 annual Professorial Luncheon held at the JKUAT Main Campus, Juja on Tuesday, 28th July 2015. The Professorial Luncheon is an annual event hosted in honour of the newly promoted university professors at the JKUAT Main Campus.

As the Chief Speaker at the event, Mr. David Kuria spoke on Entrepreneurship and the role of the Professorial club in Enhancing Entrepreneurship and Policy Making in Kenya. He spoke on the importance of Entrepreneurship in disrupting the current systems, which will pave way for new innovative solutions to societal issues. In His speech, Mr. David Kuria gave the example of the Kenya Legislature, which does not allow private distribution of water. Distribution of water in Kenya is left to Municipal Council Water Bodies, which at the moment are overwhelmed as most communities in Kenya still lack access to basic Tap water.

He reiterated the need for all three bodies, the Professorial Body, the Legislature and the Industry to work together in order to build a favorable environment for Entrepreneurship to flourish.

Africaqua CEO, David Kamau Kuria among those attending the Global Entrepreneurship Summit

The much awaited Global Entrepreneurship Summit is expected to bring together successful entrepreneurs from different walks of life. The summit will host entrepreneurs who have excelled in agriculture, technology, innovation, tourism among others. The Summit provides an opportunity for the entrepreneurs to interact with billionaires from across the world who will be accompanying President Barrack Obama.
The Africaqua CEO Kamau Kuria will be among the entrepreneur who will be show casing his innovation on the area of urban environmental challenges facing Africa. David Kuria will also be one of the panelists tackling different business models that can be adopted for Africa.