Safisana

Replenishing soil from urban waste

Safi Sana designs and operates systems that take market waste and sewage to produce electricity, compost, irrigation water and seedlings. The company combines organic waste from food markets and abattoirs with faecal matter from urban slums to produce biogas, soil conditioner and water for irrigation. They have their own organic fertiliser brand, ‘Asaase Gyefo’ (‘Soil Saviour’), which they both sell and use to propagate seedlings. A significant portion of revenue comes from selling electricity generated from captured methane to Ghana's national power company.

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Safisana

Circular Strategy

Collaborate to create joint value, Prioritise regenerative resources, Use waste as a resource

Sustainable Development Goals

7Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all

11Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable

13Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts

"Our circular model treats waste as a resource while creating broad impact in the community”-Marleen Nelisse

The Opportunity

In Accra, 73% of the population use shared sewage facilities from which faecal sludge is drained mechanically by trucks, with 72% of this ending up untreated in the environment. The only remaining landfill site in Accra is estimated to have reached capacity. Of the 2,385 tonnes of municipal waste produced daily, organic matter comprises 65%.

On the other hand, Africa has some of the most degraded soils in the world, with land being stripped of micro and macro nutrients. Waste organic matter can return vital nutrients to the soil and create energy and irrigation water from by-products of the process.

SafiSana thrives on the innovative ways they are tackling organic waste. Working with markets and communities, they are feeding value-added products back to improve agriculture, health, and power supply.

The Story

In 2009 an NGO, a knowledge institute and three companies (Aqua for All, University of Wageningen, Rabobank, Shell and Royal Haskoning DHV) came together in the Netherlands and set an ambitious goal: ‘to develop and test a business model that uses sanitary waste as a raw material for valuable end products; generating an economic model to make it locally owned, financially sustainable and replicable’. Their aim was to address challenges at their roots and create a model that could not only be operated by locals in Ghana but could also cover operational costs from the sale of treatment by-products.

The Solution

Safisana designs, constructs and operates waste-to-energy anaerobic digestion plants. The company combines organic waste from food markets and abattoirs with faecal matter from urban slums to produce biogas, soil conditioner and irrigation water. They have their own nutrient rich organic fertiliser brand, ‘Asaase Gyefo’ (‘Soil Saviour’), which they both sell and use to produce seedlings.

A significant portion of revenue comes from selling electricity generated from captured methane to the national power company. Collaboration has always been at the heart of their model, right from their founding. The local municipal assembly contributed land for their plant.

They work closely with NGOs improving public toilets, and they have a deep relationship with local communities. Improving sanitation requires them to encourage behaviour change, which entails educating customers on proper segregation and disposal of organic waste. In this regard, every employee of Safisana is an ambassador for the change they are contributing to. They have benefitted from blended financing - from grants to establish the plant, to a diverse revenue mix to cover operating costs. This reflects the deep value they provide, which goes beyond sanitation services to customers, or soil enhancement to farmer buyers and extends to cleaning up the environment and communities, while alleviating the burden on an over- encumbered waste management system.

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