In order to increase our knowledge of slum dynamics we participated in a project in the large slum Kibera in Nairobi, Kenya. Here the lack of sanitation creates massive health problems among the population. One local solution are so-called bio centres; de-central and energy producing buildings that increase hygiene and health locally.


A biocenter is a building that gives a small neighbourhood of 500-800 residents access to toilets and showers, with an underground tank that produces a clean, flammable gas from the toilet-waste. The gas is used for cooking at the adjacent Mashimoni School that cooks daily for around 200 pupils. Apart from the sanitary function, the building includes rooms that ce used for teaching and rented by the local population for various events. The biocenter was built by Danish NGO Sustainable Energy in cooperation with local partners. AWB designed the building, which was later detailed and prepared for construction by local partner Umande Trust.


Nairobi (Kibera), Kenya

  • A cleaner and safer environment in and around the school, with less diseases caused by pollution from human waste.
  • That the school reduces its spending and dependency on charcoal for fuel as it can be replaced with bio gas.
  • That by replacing charcoal with bio gas, that the school avoids contributing to deforestation.
  • That the bio centre, though its size and visual qualities become a local beacon for sustainability and environmental awareness.

In contrast to most bio centres which are round, ours is rectangular to make better use of the small and difficult plot. The centre has toilets and showers at the ground floor, an underground gas producing chamber and two floors of spaces for education, meetings and social events. The centre has access from both the street and from within the school, with two separate toilet areas for safety reasons. The bio centre is built in a local stone often used in Nairobi. It is constructed by local NGO Umande Trust and by local craftsmen.


Vedvarende Energi and Umande Trust


Among other sources, the project received support from the Children’s Christmas Calendar 2009




Anton Ryslinge og Marianne Filtenborg


Contact Anton Ryslinge at

Read more on the website of NGO Vedvarende Energi (in Danish) under “Børnenes Ulandskalender 2009”