toilet diagram

A Sustainable Biogas Toilet

A Place to Go plans to construct a biogas toilet unit for the Jitegemee School campus. This system will reduce waste, eliminate the need for costly and dirty charcoal and provide a sustainable source of fuel for the school's growing meal program. Toilet waste is collected in a sealed underground chamber where it is introduced to microbes that break down harmful pathogens and produce methane gas, a clean source of fuel which will be used to power cooking appliances in school's new kitchen. Any remaining solid waste can be used as compost in the adjacent garden.

See the science behind biogas toilets! »

The Old and the New

The existing toilet at the Jitegemee School is a single pit-latrine style unit. The school’s 170 students – both boys and girls – currently share this one toilet. When the toilet pit is full, a new hole is dug and the latrine is simply picked-up, moved to a new location, and the old hole is filled over with soil.

old jitegemee toilet new jitegemee toilet

The new toilet for the Jitegemee School will be an important upgrade to the campus with separate facilities for both boys and girls that will include an integrated biogas unit, water collection system, and composting capabilities. The unit will be built with traditional local materials – brick, concrete, and corrugated metal roofing. The new toilet unit will give the students at the Jitegemee School a clean, safe place to go, reduce waste, and help produce energy for the meal program.

About Jitegemee

Jitegemee, which means “sustain yourself” in Swahili (or Kiswahili), is a partnership between American volunteers and Kenyan educators who work together to address the needs of street children in Machakos, Kenya, a town about an hour outside of the capital city, Nairobi. Jitegemee, Inc. has 501(c)3 tax-exempt status in the United States and is a registered nongovernmental organization (NGO) in Kenya.


The Jitegemee School is not really a school at all – it is more of a community center. It exists to help give underprivileged children the skills to be self-sufficient and transition into adulthood. The school offers over 170 local children a daily lunch program, tutoring, health education, vocational training, and job placement in the local community. The school also works with the parents and community members to establish shared economic opportunities through poultry farming and educational training.

Jitegemee Food

The meal program provides lunch for over 170 students every day.

Students at Jitegemee

Jitegemee provides tutoring, health education, and vocational training to primary, secondary, and college level students.

The New Jitegemee School Campus

The existing school building is located in a one-story residential building that is inadequate for the current program and its expected growth. Three years ago, Jitegemee began the process to design and construct a new campus that would allow for expansion to its full potential. The new campus is planned to be a sustainable community center that will include new classrooms, a library and technology center, a new kitchen, a composting toilet block, and a tree nursery among other things. In 2009, a team from Architecture for Humanity DC hosted a school design workshop in Machakos with students, parents, teachers, and local community members to engage the users in the planning and design of the new campus. AfH DC completed the concept and schematic design and is currently working with a local architect and contractors in Nairobi to complete the construction documents and begin construction. Construction is set to begin in late 2012 and finish in 2013.