Official launch of Mitsubishi WASH station at SHOFCO, Kibera
By Brian Okinda
Japanese ambassador to Kenya, H.E. Tatsushi Terada, officially launched the Mitsubishi WASH station today in the Gatwekera village in Kibera.
The event, which was attended by other dignitaries including SHOFCO CEO Kennedy Odede, was open to the entire community to witness the official opening of the community toilets constructed by SHOFCO in collaboration with Mitsubishi Corporation.
The WASH toilets, which were constructed 2 months ago, are much-needed facilities for Kibera residents, many of whom lack access to toilets. “I have lived here for the last 20 years and have had a toilet problem for about 10 good years. My landlord finds it difficult to put up even one, which has brought on many complications,” says Millicent Anyango, a resident who attended the opening.
In his speech, the ambassador congratulated the Mitsubishi Corporation, which supports SHOFCO’s activities in Kibera as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). The ambassador also commended SHOFCO for its dedication to empowering slum residents through a holistic approach that integrates girl’s education, WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene), health, economic empowerment and youth development, among other key areas.
The ambassador said, “One of Japan’s guiding diplomatic policies is human security. We believe that security for each individual is indispensable to create a secure and harmonized society.” He added that the government of Japan has identified five priority areas in the country assistance policy for Kenya, namely development of economic infrastructure, agricultural development, environmental protection, human resource development and health and medical care.
Kennedy Odede thanked the ambassador for venturing to the toilet’s site, a remote and not easily accessible area, deep within Kibera slum. “I want to thank the ambassador and any other person who has made this event successful. My hope is to see the entire community improving in all situations. To the residents, I hope this initiative will positively improve the surrounding environment and I want you to ensure cleanliness and maintenance of the wash toilets at all times.”
Many of the residents are happy about the project and appreciate the initiative’s efforts to improve their livelihood.
Elizabeth Odhiambo, another resident who was at the event said, “I am very grateful to SHOFCO and Mitsubishi for building this toilet that is free of charge. At least now we can smile after the long time problem. Paying Ksh. 5/= for every visit to the commercial toilets isn’t easy, especially in cases of diarrhea when we have to use plastic bags or newspapers which we have to dispose in the near river or other places which was harmful.”
SHOFCO facilitates the building of the toilets by securing land and constructing the facilities. In return, residents have to create a committee of members who are responsible for maintenance and sustainability of the toilets. The community toilets are part of SHOFCO’s holistic WASH program which also provides clean and cheap water as well as hygiene and sanitation education.
SHOFCO is a non-profit organization whose vision is to transform urban poverty to urban promise. The project has ensured construction of over 30 toilets in Kibera and has future plans to put up more in other slums.