Distressed with overflowing open pit latrines, Hesbon Nyambare, a caretaker of 35 houses in the informal settlement of Kaptembwa in Nakuru county of Kenya, sought to find a solution.

“We are not connected to the sewer system and so everything spreads out when the latrines are full,” Nyambare told Xinhua in a recent interview in Nakuru.

“You feel like running away anytime you pass near them because the smell is just suffocating and the flies are all over. You even lose appetite for food,” he said.

But need for change pushed him to reconstruct the six latrines fitting them with a septic tank which serves as alternative to the sewer lines. It holds the waste which is removed when full with an exhauster.

“Since 2015 when I finished reconstructing the latrines life is much more comfortable here. My tenants are even happy. There is no defecating in the compound or bad smell,” he said.

He says access to the sanitation and sewerage services to the people in the informal settlements remains to be a major challenge that requires urgent redress.

In Kenya, the government owned water, sanitation and sewerage companies are responsible for providing proper disposal and sewer services as well as treatment of the human waste before discharged into the environment.

For Nyambare and his tenants life may have improved with the customized sewerage system.

But for at least 17 million people living in the urban and peri-urban centres in Kenya their sanitation life is undignified due to lack of access to the sewerage services.

A Water Impact Report for 2015 released by Kenya’s Water Services Regulatory Board (Wasreb) on Wednesday indicates that just about three million people out of 20 million living in areas within the reach of water service providers are connected to sewers.

The coverage is equivalent to 15 percent of the urban population.

The findings collaborate with UNICEF’s which also show that by 2014 only 15 percent of the 9,126 villages in Kenya had been triggered to eradicate open defecation, which is a sanitation problem in the public health sector also connected to provision of the sewerage services.

Surge in population in the urban areas coupled with limited financial resources is attributed to the below the target coverage according to the Wasreb report.

The government has put a national target in coverage of the sewer lines at 40 percent against the current 15 percent which is also a drop by four percent since 2010.

The trend (in coverage of sewer lines) has been declining from 19 per cent in 2010 due to the rapid increase in population, which is not matched by corresponding investment in sewerage,” according to the report.

Kenya is among the countries in Africa struggling with migration of both literate and illiterate citizens into the urban centers hoping to secure jobs or access better income generating activities.

And majority end up in the informal settlements where they can afford to survive but whose environment is characterized with deplorable housing and absence of properly functioning sanitation and sewerage systems.

In the absence of the sewerage system, providers of rentals such as Nyambare are forced to customize their own with septic tanks, pushing the cost of management and rehabilitation to the tenants.

The World Bank has proposed a new concept of financing sanitation in which households can access credit through financing institutions to construct sanitation facilities.

It argues that this could provide a solution to challenges of lack or inadequate sanitation facilities, and in the long-term proactively address health problems related to sanitation issues.