Links to smart solutions



In 1975 when I first lived here
there was NO waste! NO plastics, NO packages
NO one threw anything away! Lamu was a perfectly clean place.
Whatever was possible to reuse got a new function.

Whoever went shopping used a woven basket.
And of course plastic bags did not exist.

Straying donkeys ate what could be eaten and also chicken walked around
in the narrow alleys. Some donkey droppings, yes but no unnecessary waste.

The old Lamu houses all had their "long drop" toilets where no water was used.
The "grey water" from washing and showering was like now channelled in
the open sewage system along the narrow alleys into the sea

Lamu today

Lamu’s water table is low.

The wells in Shela water catchment are not enough for the growing population.
Some of the 30 wells have gone dry and some have pumping problems.
Many of Lamu’s deep wells both public and private ones have already been contaminated
by the rich amount of coli bacteria that are washed down in the water closets not far from the wells.


Human Waste / Lamu's toilet system 

The human solid and liquid waste is by tradition let into dug out pit latrines. Deep, wide pits are dug 8 feet by 8 feet.
The toilet is placed on top and the waste drops down. You spread some ash or sawdust or sand now and then.  
No water should be used. I have seen such toilets being emptied and the contents are
pure fertile dark non smelling soil. Used the right way there is no embarrassing smell or other inconveniences.
 The principle is not to add water or poisonous insecticides.

Unfortunately today many new house owners install water closets using Lamu’s  dear drinking water
to flush the waste down into the old pits. The pits have no drainage pipes and  probably
the owners are unaware of the dangers of contaminating
the wells for drinking water located next door!!!)

In Subira House we have kept the swahili system of long drops. Without water.
Our toilets are traditional water free "long drops" on the first two floors.


Long drop toilet

On the newly added two TOP floor Terraces we have installed two Eco-San Separett type
for separating the human waste (like God intended). This is then recycled.
Our carpenter made the seat from mahogany wood!

eco san

Eco San Separett toilet has two bowls inside
each connected with its container.

Using urine and humus derived from ecological toilets is a source of nutritents for growing trees and plants on our shamba.
What must be remered is that also men sit down so that urine and fekals are not mixed. No water is used.
To prevent odour or flies we keep a bucket with wood ash to spread after the visit.


To conserve the environment and the wellbeing of the population.
Not to damage or wear out our resources.
To contribute actively to nature preservation and local culture.



Our environmental policy has been formulated over many years of experience in Sweden.
In Sweden we built a hotel and restaurant business over a period of 29 years.
We strived to achieve a holistic environmental profile for our business and
to  walk as carefully as possible on that particular spot of the Earth.
Our Swedish establishment was the first private business to obtain the Swedish ecolabel. The Swan (year 2000).
Also our restaurant kitchen facilities received certification by  KRAV  in1997
and we won an award for the best KRAV (Ecocertified)  kitchen of the year! 
In 2001 we obtained the prestigious certificate from the Swedish ecotourism organization known as Nature’s Best .
In Kenya, our goal is to achieve similar quality standards as well as environmental awareness built into our hotel business.
Of course, there are different challenges here, however we are capable of meeting these challenges
and hope to set an example for other businesses to follow.



Reducing the hotels energy consumption and use renewable energy sources.
Reduce chemical products. Always prefer ecolabelled products.
Reduce water consumption - eliminate not necessary washing.
Reduce waste - do not bring it into the house!
Reuse the waste .
Reuse the water
Reuse old furniture
Recycle the waste and turn it into something attractive 
Recycle building materials


Clean water supply
We use well water for washing and a water tank catches rain water for the garden.
Grey water from laundry is used for garden plants. We have piped water from the Lamu Water Board
with one water tap for drinking water. The tap provides the house and guests with drinking water.
We encourage our guests to refill their bottles of water.
We have no swimming pool.


Grey water

Still grey water is channeled in open sewers along the
narrow lanes running downwards to the sea

This system worked very well before. At present much package material has invaded the island and some of
this waste is now causing blockage so is up to now an unsolved problem. Also the type of detergents used today
contain much tensides which cause the sea water to be over nourished. Eutrophication.

Detergent phosphates are hydrolysed in the wash water, sewerage system, sewage treatment, or surface waters, to simple natural phosphates,
PO4. This is the same phosphate as comes from human metabolism, animals, food and other organic wastes, agricultural run-off …
Because phosphate is essential for life, can act as fertiliser for plants and algae in surface waters,
posing environmental problems termed “eutrophication” (which means “over feeding”).


Why is waste so visible in Lamu and other developing countries?

This is not quite true, after visiting Stockholm I notice even there with an incredibly smart waste management,
garbage can be seen where it is not supposed to be. Some people are lazy and throw anywhere.
Here in Lamu we have one tractor and some six carriers and one driver who is supposed to clear the waste
away from town. To bring it to the big Lamu dump site a bit away from town. But at times the tractor has a flat tire,
no one to repair it, no one to drive it….
Nothing is really sorted or collected to be taken away from the island for recycling like in Europe.

We have LAMU SAFI, the organisation which tries to keep Lamu clean.
A management structure and money is needed.
Our intention is to create a TRUST that can help supporting LAMU SAFI.

The last years we have been involved in promoting the use of material bags instead of plastic bags


making charcoal from sawdust with a home made machine


From our years in Sweden where all waste is sorted and sent for recycling
we do have an idea on how to manage Lamu' s waste:

Make compartments at the main dumpsite where each fraction is taken:
Plastic bags/ plastic bottles/ metal/ glass/ batteries.

To separate the waste already in the house holds and have a garbage pick up by donkey every day.
Implement the ban on plastic bags. There is already a law not to use plastic carrierr bags.

Keep all wells clean.

Reduce the number of flushing toilets and clorinated swimming pools.