Sanergy, Kenya’s eco-initiative won the Food Planet Prize 2020
Kenya’s Sanergy won the Food Planet Prize 2020, a global prestigious award that recognizes, promotes, and rewards initiatives and individuals working to secure the world’s future food supply while fostering a healthy and resilient biosphere. Sanergy was recognized for its role in turning Nairobi’s slums’ huge sanitation problem into opportunities for farming, taking a systemic approach to solving a complex of problems at the same time. Latest reports indicate that almost 60% of the world’s population lives in urban areas and will continue to grow to 68% of the global population in 2050. Urbanization is thus claiming more and more land, putting added pressure on food systems and natural resources.
Food Planet Prize notes that as cities in emerging economies expand rapidly, they are often ill-equipped to handle their waste increase and this seriously undermines their health and contributes to the spread of infectious diseases, causing about 700,000 deaths yearly, according to The World Bank. The bank further estimates that annual waste generation from cities will increase by 70% to 3.4 billion tons by 2050, posing huge environmental and economic challenges globally.
Food security is another growing concern as many farmers in emerging economies lack access to efficient fertilizers and nutritious feed for their livestock. Sanergy’s breakthrough pay-per-use Fresh Life toilets has created a solution to these problems. The organization is building healthy communities and combating infectious disease by providing low-cost, high-quality toilets for the urban poor. The sanitation waste it collects is utilized in a controlled and integrated production chain to promote local agriculture – based on a circular and holistic systemic approach. It has developed insect-based methods to convert human waste into organic fertilizers and animal feed for commercial and smallholder farms. The organization says their work has helped increase horticultural farmers’ vegetable yields by 30%. Similarly, livestock farmers have seen a 30% weight increase in chickens, fish, and pork.
Sanergy has been able to install 772 Fresh Life toilets in Nairobi, safely removed 7,245 metric tons of waste from the environment, created 779 jobs directly, and grown to a team of 200 people. It tapped the black soldier flies to do the dirty work of breaking down the waste and produce larvae that are harvested to be used as biofertilizers and as a protein source in poultry, pork, and fish feeds.
Other organizations that were awarded include ICIPE, a Nairobi-based research firm that uses insect science to create sustainable development and ensure food security, UK’s Blue Ventures, a conservation organization dedicated to preserving marine biodiversity and improving food security in tropical coastal communities, and Australia’s Future Feed, a joint research initiative striving to reduce methane emissions from livestock with seaweed-based feed additives. The four organizations will get $1 million each for efforts to reshape the food system.