Sanergy from Nairobi wins first Sarphati Sanitation Award

Becky Auerbach (Sanergy)

Becky Auerbach (Sanergy). Photo: Dick de Jong, H2O Communications, 2013

Sanergy won the first Sarphati Santation Award because in the past two years it has built 242 sanitation facilities run by 130 local entrepreneurs from Nairobi’s slums, who earn US$ 2,000 per year in income for their families while providing hygienic sanitation to 10,000+ residents. The Mayor of Amsterdam awarded a cash prize of 50.000 euros (US$  67,000) and a statue by famous artist Marte Röling to the winner, Becky Auerbach from Sanergy during the International Water Week (IWW) in Amsterdam. IDE Cambodia and Mr. Toilet, Jack Sim were the runners up.

The three nominees have in common that they provide remarkable sustainable business solutions “turning shit into gold”. They have shown that it is very well possible to address sanitation and public health issues in developing countries while making profit. Over the past years interest has increased for new ways to address the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) for sanitation.

The Sarphati Sanitation Award is a biennial international award honouring the outstanding contribution of an individual or organisation to the global sanitation and public health challenge through entrepreneurship. The Sarphati Sanitation Award is an initiative of the Municipality of Amsterdam, Aqua for All and the Netherlands Water Partnership, and is endorsed by the Dutch Government.

The jury consisted of Mrs. Uschi Eid, Vice-Chair of the United Nations Secretary General’s Advisory Board on Water and Sanitation (UNSGAB); Mr. Kulwant Singh, Regional Advisor of UN-Habitat Asia; Arno Rosemarin, Senior Research Fellow at the Stockholm Environment Institute and Mr. Johan de Bondt, Chairman of Amstel, Gooi and Vecht regional public Water Authority and Chairman of the jury.

Dr. Samuel Sarphati

Dr. Samuel Sarphat

Dr. Samuel Sarphati. Photo: Gemeentearchief Amsterdam

The award is inspired by Dr Samuel Sarphati (1813–1866), general practitioner and town planner in Amsterdam in the mid-19th century. He was appalled by the bad sanitary conditions in the poorer quarters of the city and understood the importance of good hygiene. His compassion for his patients led him to initiate various entrepreneurial projects to improve the quality of life in the city and the health of its inhabitants.

In 1847, Sarphati linked the public and the private sector by establishing a company that collected the human waste of the city dwellers. Faeces and urine were transformed into manure for the agricultural sector. A true entrepreneur, Dr Sarphati applied the fertilizer to crops on his estate and brought fruit and vegetables back to Amsterdam for the benefit of his patients.

The projects he initiated included also a bread factory that produced wholesome, affordable bread. Both the city and the rural areas around it benefited tremendously from this initiative. He understood that improving sanitation was key to improving the public health situation. His efforts helped to eradicate cholera from Amsterdam before the end of the 19th century.

Dick de Jong, H2O Communications

Related news: IWW/Aquatech: Sanergy wins 50.000 euro Sarphati award for establishing sanitation business in Nairobi,, 06 Nov 2013

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2 responses to “Sanergy from Nairobi wins first Sarphati Sanitation Award

  1. Pingback: Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s Urges Sanitation Be at Heart of Post-2015 Dev Framework | Washlink

  2. Pingback: WASHplus Weekly: Focus on World Toilet Day 2013 | Sanitation Updates

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