Scaling Resource Efficiency and Cleaner Production (RECP) in the Nairobi Rivers Basin

Background Information

The Kenya National Cleaner Production Centre (KNCPC) is leading this Nairobi-based project which is designed to pilot solutions for water pollution caused by the discharge of untreated/poorly treated industrial effluent by multiple industry types. The project falls under the umbrella of the Nairobi Rivers Basin Commission, an initiative to reclaim the rivers of Nairobi as a spine to the city’s blue and green infrastructure for a better urban environment and quality of life.

From experience, KNCPC understands that manufacturers struggle to adopt progressive improvements and investments into cleaner infrastructure for a range of reasons – poor organisational capacity, lack understanding the most suitable technology to address hier needs, and low understanding of the long-term commercial benefits.  The challenge of limited information and understanding of the commercial business case is shared by the financial sector, with the result that financing is not readily available for required investments in Resource Efficiency and Cleaner Production (RECP).

The project kicked off with a scoping exercise to map the most urgent water pollution challenges and the priorities in the basin. Priority industries were invited to work alongside the project, specifically to receive support from KNCPC in the form of site evaluations, recommendations on RECP interventions and staff training on these practices.  The KNCPC aims to work with up to 100 manufacturers for RECP training and audits. Sites are audited for specific infrastructure investments and an assessment is made on what type of financing solutions are suitable and what investment readiness interventions may be required to support this.  The project partner, Fintech Frontiers, will be developing a case for the return on investment and facilitate engagement with financial partners. By bringing finance providers on board and providing specific training to investors on the business case for cleaner production investments, the project seeks to address a significant barrier to physical investments in pollution abatement. With better information on the water pollution situation in the Nairobi Rivers, the project will also bring policymakers into the discussion to address policy incentives and better regulatory control.

The broad scale work is paired with targeted wastewater treatment interventions at three pilot sites. This pilot sites will be used to build case studies and as demonstration sites that will illustrate environmental compliance benefits and the long-term financial benefits of circular water use and greater resource efficiency. The wastewater case studies will be used alongside the broader campaign to implement RECP practices amongst the heaviest polluting industries in the NRB and to show the potential for large-scale environmental improvements in the water quality of the Nairobi Rivers.

The pilot supports the delivery of the Industrial Pollution Control outcomes of the Nairobi Rivers Commission (NRC), launched by President William Ruto in February 2023.

Image: Nairobi river flowing through Kibera, Nairobi

Source: AP News, Khalil Senosi (link)


The project has made significant progress on its initial phase.

The project team has successfully completed the GIS mapping of a total of 224 industries in the five counties across the NRB. This has enabled the project team to progress on several fronts:

  1. As of March 2024, 21 partnership agreements have been signed between industries and the KNCPC while verbal commitments have been made from almost 138 industries.
  2. A sector-wide list of polluting sites and industries was produced to cluster and prioritise industries. The project targeted industries in the chemical, tannery and textiles sub-sectors which made use of wet processing. These include food processing, meat processing (including slaughter houses), pharmaceuticals, beverage and beer manufacturers, distilleries, body care and beauty products manufacturers, and confectionery manufacturers, amongst others.
  3. Initial briefing meetings were held with key stakeholder representatives from Nairobi’s Environmental Management Authority (NEMA), NRC, Water Resources Authority, Kenya Private Sector Alliance, Kenya Association of Manufacturers, respective county governments, and water and sewerage companies, amongst others, to prioritise the sectors and industries for sampling. Representatives from these key organisations were also included in the sampling exercises.A follow-up review workshop was also held with these representatives to showcase the results of the data collection and mapping exercises.
  4. Influent and effluent sampling from 122 industries has been completed. These samples were taken from industries with wastewater treatment plants installed (influent and effluent samples) as well as from those industries (20 of the 122) without a wastewater treatment plant installed (effluent samples only). The actual and estimated volume of wastewater produced by the various industries were also recorded.
  5. A total of 234 samples were submitted to NEMA-accredited laboratories to determine pollution levels with respect to two parameters, Biological Oxygen Demand (BOD5) and Chemical Oxygen Demand (COD). Along with this data, the team also collected data on the volume of wastewater effluent produced by the industries, either through actual readings (where flow meters were installed) or through estimations based on water use.

Additionally, Kanku Kenya Limited has designed, fabricated and installed the pilot effluent treatment plant with Membrane Wastewater Treatment technology in Ultravetis East Africa Limited to showcase the benefits of this technology to other industry players. Since the successful installation of the wastewater treatment plant, suspended and organic pollutants from the manufacturing processes have been significantly reduced from the Ultravetis East Africa Ltd wastewater stream. Treated wastewater is now compliant with NEMA’s Fifth Schedule Standards (Sewer Discharge) is being reused for non-critical processes (cleaning, toilets).

The project’s partner, Fintech Frontiers, is also in the process of developing feasibility studies on the demonstration projects. They are also in the initial stages of developing financial models to advise on policy and incentives for cleaner technologies.

Gender and social inclusivity (GESI) has also been at the forefront of the project with the appointment of women as the GESI champion for the project, the overall GESI coordinator as well as the coordinator of Ultravetis East Africa Limited pilot.

As the project progresses to its next phase through mid- to late-2024, it aims to undertake training for for at least 100 industries and policymakers on wastewater treatment and RECP, hold policy workshops with key stakeholders on RECP mainstreaming in policy and legislation, and install another pilot wastewater treatment plant in a textile industry, Thika Clothmill Limited, in the NRB.

Connect with Scaling Resource Efficiency and Cleaner Production (RECP) in the Nairobi Rivers Basin



November 2023 – March 2026



Countries of Implementation

Consortium Partners

Showcase Resources

Preliminary results of Effluent Treatment Plant at Utlravetis East Africa Ltd

Report of the initial stakeholders’ consultative meeting held at Eka Hotel, Nairobi City County: Stakeholder Engagement Report

Scroll to Top