SHOFCO provides access to safe drinking water for some of the poorest people in the world using simple and effective technology to purify, transport and distribute.

Shining Hope for Communities (SHOFCO) is a humanitarian organisation based in Nairobi, Kenya, serving more than 350,000 slum residents in nine slums in Kenya. They have a really entrepreneurial spirit and they aim to disrupt survival mode and build resilience in communities so people can thrive. They have a number of different key programmes including Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH), Sustainable Livelihood and Health Services. Their tagline is “we build urban promise from urban poverty”.

It’s hard to live up to your full potential if you are worrying about getting sick or accessing clean drinking water. SHOFCO aim to give people access to the things they need so they can focus on their futures.

Alongside the other programmes, SHOFCO particularly focus effort on girls’ education and women leadership programmes to raise community participation and enable long-term change.

SHOFCO’s biggest operation is in Kibera, a slum in Nairobi. Kibera is the largest urban slum in Africa with approximately 2 million people living tightly packed in 13 villages. Most of the slum’s residents live in extreme poverty, earning less than $1 per day; almost impossible to imagine for anyone lucky enough to be reading this on a screen.

SHOFCO’s Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Programme has bored a large well, installed an enormous pumping station and water treatment plant and suspended water pipes above the slum, safely and securely transporting drinking water to 42 distribution kiosks in five neighbourhoods. For hygiene reasons, it’s much safer to suspend the pipes in the air so that rain and flood water cannot contaminate the water – when walking around Kibera it is possible to see many water pipes laying on the floor, many with leaks and half buried in mud and rubbish. The people who are supplied by those pipes are at greater risk of drinking contaminated water.

The suspended pipes of SHOFCO’s WASH programme lead to water towers high above the neighbourhoods. These towers can store a large amount of water and they also act as a beacon to show people where to go for drinking water. Each tower is also fitted with a solar panel and the surrounding area is lit at night, increasing the safety on paths leading towards the kiosk.

The kiosks are now fully automated meaning that people can access water 24/7. Once a family has registered for the service, they are given a key fob which they can tap onto a panel at any kiosk and can select the amount of water to dispense. They are able to top up their account at many other shops or kiosks throughout the slum or they can top up using their mobile phone.

The WASH Programme coordinator is aiming to develop the water distribution service into a Social Enterprise, which entirely funds itself and doesn’t require grant money to maintain the system or to pay the wages of the staff.

The SHOFCO WASH Programme also helps to fund the Kibera School For Girls.

Read more about SHOFCO here.

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