About the Project, unConference & FfW Network

The Fuel from Waste Network is an international group working on waste management, sustainable fuel and sustainable employment in developing communities. The group is led by community groups and informal sector artisans; supported by international NGOs and Universities. We are based in Nairobi, Kenya.

The network was created from a collaborative research project and a groundbreaking unConference in Nairobi during May 2011.

The background and details are below.

World Fuel from Waste Day is an annual event, following on from the Nairobi unConference, taking place on the 28th of May, each year.


In 40 years, Kenya’s forest cover has depleted from 11 to 1.5%. This is a direct result of a burgeoning population (about 35 million, 2008) using wood products as fuel. With increase in fossil fuel prices more people revert to “cheaper” wood-based fuels and/or burning toxic waste. 56% of Kenyans, surviving on less then 1USD/day, are uninformed on toxicity of burning synthetic waste. Tree felling, insufficient reforestation and inadequate supply of affordable alternative fuels, further compromise forests.
Beside the massive environmental degradation and habitat loss, there is also an increased number of youth and of women-headed households with scarce income generation opportunities and conflicts arising from scarce resources. About 51% of the residents of Nairobi live in the slums, 60% of this population is made up of people below 24 years (UN Habitat). Given the number of youth and the increasing need for them to support their own livelihoods, new income-generating activities are essential, especially when they contribute to other rapidly emerging problems – that of the depletion of Kenya’s forest resources.

The Project – ‘Jua Kali’ / Informal Manufacture Sector Collaboration

The project that underpinned the ‘Fuel from Waste’ – Briquetting unConference and  the appropriate technology, open-innovation hub ‘madegood.org’ was a collaboration among Middlesex University (MDX – Product Design and Engineering and redLoop – the mdx design and innovation centre), Kenyatta University (KU – Energy Department)  and Terra Nuova East Africa (TN – Jua Kali Programme), developing an existing KU/TN partnership during 2010/11.
It focused on biomass fuel briquette manufacture within the informal sector in Nairobi; the development of design and engineering skills and artisan partnerships for KU and MDX students; training of unemployed local youth and promotion and dissemination to the wider populace in areas of fuel from biomass waste, sustainable employment and entrepreneurship; and the creation of an appropriate technology open-innovation hub – Madegood.org. The project addressed deforestation and domestic energy use, using appropriate technology, in Kenya.

The developments in the areas above, led to the ‘Fuel from Waste’ unConference, as the best way of bringing all the elements together and co-creating the next stages in this work. See the Home page for plan that was created in the unConference, and ongoing activity by the network.

Project Summary and Plan

“This document is an output from the EPA Project funded by the UK Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) for the benefit of the African Further and Higher Education Sector and the UK Higher Education Sector. The views expressed are not necessarily those of BIS, nor British Council.”



The First World ‘Fuel from Waste’ Day was on Monday 28th May 2012.

We celebrated through a range of events in Kenya and London. Please visit the blog Homepage for details of what went on.

The 2011 unConference was as follows:

Come and join us to share your stories; then discover and create new ways forward for Fuel from Waste

There are lots of people working at finding ways to use waste material to create sustainable fuel. We come from a group looking a biomass briquetting, as a way to mitigate Kenya’s deforestation and the health issues associated with burning wood-based fuel and toxic waste. Then, to create employment from that goal. There’s a great deal of activity, from local through to international level, in this area, but the work is often isolated or duplicated,  progress is uncoordinated, infrastructure and promotion non-existent and the perception of the fuel briquettes poor.

We thought if we could get everybody together, in the right environment, they could achieve great things! So, we decided to set-up an unConference to produce that inclusive, active, generative, informal atmosphere, in which we could all co-create practical ideas: A ‘doing’ shop, not a ‘talking’ shop (although plenty of talking, to enable the ‘doing’ :)). We are aiming for an event where people working or interested in this area, and wider sustainability/climate change/economic development issues, can come together, cohere ideas and resources and do something tangible with them.

What sort of ideas? Well, the excitement of an unConference is that we don’t know yet. But, we think, ideas for adoption, dissemination, informing of the public/users, upscaling, increasing the quality/profit/output of briquette operations, support and training are important.

We want this to be an unConference where everyone goes go home with ideas, inspiration, resources and plans to make stuff happen. We’ll publish, share and make it so!

To help this happen, we want you to tell us your ‘stories’. You all have a story to tell, and if you share it at ‘Fuel from Waste’, we can weave it into the creative co-design; can let it inspire visitors; can share those stories with the wider world and, hopefully, they will resonate and expand.

Venue and Date: Shalom House, Nairobi, Kenya – Friday 27th to Saturday 28th May

Drop us a line, if you’d like to attend. Let us know if you’d like to give a talk/presentation, what it’s about and its format.

The Briquetting unConference – ‘Fuel from Waste’

Sustainable fuel; sustainable jobs; better communities.

Shalom House

Komboni Rd, Dagoretti Corner, Nairobi, Kenya. Located close to St. Vincent church.


Friday May 27th and Saturday May 28th.

NO FEES, NO Registration.

Contact: w.griffiths@mdx.ac.uk


  • Biomass briquetting technology
  • Employment and development of support for training
  • Legislation, quality control, standardisation
  • Promotion and marketing – using new and old technologies, networks and communities
  • Road Mapping – service ecologies, infrastructure and sustainable networks

We welcome stories, talks or presentations (of 5-10 mins), in any format, from attendees; but they are not required, nor do they need to be reviewed, prior to the unConference. In addition there will be;

  • Exhibitions of existing and new ideas for briquetting and stove technology from artisans, industry, researchers and students
  • Demonstrations and videos
  • Training

Day 1 – More ‘technical’ day – co-creation

Welcome and introduction to the domain and the aims of this unConference:

– Who does what, where? To develop a shared understanding of the interrelations between stakeholders in the fuel from waste ecology, in Nairobi and wider Kenya, and develop ways for them to coordinate future activity in a mutually beneficial way.

– To demonstrate this current briquetting technology and activity.

– To create a ‘roadmap’ for future activity. What’s needed and how to bring the right people together to make what’s needed happen?

Keynotes and talks, interspersed through the day – TBC

Facilitators – Dr. Thomas Thoruwa (Director of Energy Department, KU), Wyn Griffiths and Dr. Andy Bardill (Directors of redLoop, the mdx design and innovation centre) to support flexible groups, working around and extending the unConference themes.

The approach will be:

– Generative co-creation through creative conversations, with wall sticking and large format horizontal mindmaps.

– Parallel storytelling, demonstrations and hands-on activities intertwined through the sessions; related to briquetting, cooking, heating, sharing, promoting and enjoying. To keep things active.

Day 2 – More ‘open’ day – storytelling

– Review, analysis and sharing of generative work, with unpacking of future activity, to agree the ‘roadmap’ for the future.

– Informal stories, talks, vids, sharing

– Open exhibitions, demonstrations and training.

Future unConferences to be arranged. 


10 thoughts on “About the Project, unConference & FfW Network

  1. Dear Comrades,
    I will be grateful if you register my email in your mailing list and start sending me news about “Waste to Energy” and “Fuel from Waste” products, services and events.

  2. Its a great effort you are all making but as you all begin are you aware of the real Kenyan originators of the technology ? MAry and Francis Kavita and the Miumbuni Womens Association, Charles Onyando, Ken Kagutu, Francis Oloo in Kangemi and the Kangemi Womens Empowerement Association, Nicolas Wood, Isaiah Maobe and many others … I ask this because it is important to work based on a knowledge of the past– to use the skills and experience already gained by your fellow wananchi.
    It is nice that a foreign government has donated its expertise but it is far more important that you as Kenyans drive the project yourselves using your own accumulated experience.
    If anyone is interested email us and we will connect you to these folks they have all been producing the briquettes training others and developing new stoves and processes and blends ever we introduced ti to them eleven years ago.
    Katika huduma yako

    Richard Stanley

    • Hi Richard,
      I agree completely, and this event was all about celebrating and exhibiting the fantastic work around briquetting that has been, and continues to be, done, and to work out what next. Many of the individuals and groups you mention participated and are part of the ongoing Fuel from Waste Network – Isaiah Maobe was a keynote speaker, for example. I’m intending to put up a participant and contacts list, presently.
      The British Council funding that initiated the project that culminated in the Fuel from Waste 2011 unConference focused on developing briquetting and stove technology at a variety of scales, from hand-made through manual machinery through to powered large capacity, but all within the informal sector. As the project progressed, we realized that the maximum benefit would come from bringing together all the amazing people and work existing in the area, to discuss what had been, what else was needed and what could be done next in a truly open, collaborative forum – hence the ‘unConference’ structure.
      The expertise and experience of the participants created a coherent and insightful plan; the ‘roadmap. This is a great starting point for the next stage of work in this area, I believe.
      The role of the non-Kenyan groups was to design and facilitate that forum and to help support the plan created and driven by the FfW participants.
      It would be great to talk more with you.

  3. I just came across your project site recently. I represent Takachar (takachar.blogspot.com), a Kenya-based waste/energy initiative borne out of Massachusetts Institute of Technology. There is a lot in common in what both of us are trying to accomplish. If you are still active in Kenya, we should talk — trashiscash at mit dot edu. Thanks and cheers!

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