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Tapping into social enterprise in Kenya

The Blocks of H2Ope project continues in its mission to improve access to safe water in Africa by working with Ecotact, an award-winning social enterprise.

Tapping into social enterprise in Kenya

East African Breweries Ltd (EABL) has been working to improve access to safe water for residents in densely populated areas in Kenya. Building on existing and more traditional Water of Life projects, Blocks of H2Ope constructs water and sanitation blocks that provide clean water, lavatories and bathing facilities. An innovative solution, the blocks include space for retail outlets, which help fund the sustainability of the projects, as well as provide employment for socially excluded groups.

Working with technical partners, NGOs and local authorities has allowed EABL to develop new systems in the areas suffering the greatest social strain. Ecotact is one such partner. A social enterprise, Ecotact invests in innovations, which reduce water consumption and manage human waste for better standards of sanitation. It has received several awards including the Africa Social Entrepreneur Award 2009 from the World Economic Forum, the UN Dubai International Best Practice Award 2011, and the Guinness World Record on Hygiene 2010.

‘The long-term impact is clear to see. The new facilities have reduced waterborne diseases such as cholera, and given young people a chance to work, perhaps as cleaners or operators,’ said Jean Kiarie-Ngumo, head of responsible drinking and corporate social responsibility at EABL, adding that ‘the unique linkage with the socially excluded groups is even more rewarding.’

The systems have also released women and children in the communities from their time-consuming search for clean water, allowing them to pursue gainful employment.

Ecotact has already helped construct over 30 facilities in Kenya and plans are under way to construct similar facilities in other markets such as Uganda.