The Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers: Municipal Engineer recently published my work on using crowd-sourced data to model Fecal Sludge Management in the settlement of Kibera in Nairobi, Kenya.
Improvements in the collection and treatment of sewage are critical to reduce health and environmental hazards in rapidly urbanising informal settlements. Where sewerage infrastructure is not available, road-based faecal sludge management options are often the only alternative. However, the costs of faecal sludge transportation are often a barrier to its implementation and operation and thus it is desirable to optimise travel time from source to treatment to reduce costs.
This paper presents a novel technique, employing spatial network analysis, to optimise the spatio- topological configuration of a road-based faecal sludge transportation network on the basis of travel time. Using crowd-sourced spatial data for the Kibera settlement and the surrounding city, Nairobi, a proof-of-concept network model was created simulating the transport of waste from the 158 public toilets within Kibera. The toilets are serviced by vacuum pump trucks which move faecal sludge to a transfer station, and from there a tanker transports waste to a treatment plant. The model was used to evaluate the efficiency of different network configurations, based on transportation time. The results show that the location of the transfer station is a critical factor in network optimisation, demonstrating the utility of network analysis as part of the sanitation planning process.