Home / Spiffy's Blog / Mshila Sio: Addressing Severe Lack of Wastewater Treatment in Developing Countries
Mshila Sio: Addressing Severe Lack of Wastewater Treatment in Developing Countries

Mshila Sio: Addressing Severe Lack of Wastewater Treatment in Developing Countries

Ladderworks is a publishing platform of diverse picture books and an online curriculum with the mission to empower over a million kids to become social entrepreneurs. Our current series features interviews by our interplanetary journalist Spiffy with inspiring Social Entrepreneurs, Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Builders, and Changemakers who are advancing the UN SDGs. 

Spiffy here with the scoop on the entrepreneurial leaders of Planet Earth. As the only interplanetary journalist stationed on this blue planet, I’m thrilled to present this galactic exclusive with Mshila Sio, the founder of Omiflo. Let’s learn about what’s happening there and how Mshila is making a positive impact in the world.

Spiffy: Hi Mshila, thanks a million for talking to me today. Tell me, what challenge are you addressing through Omiflo?

Mshila: Thanks for having me, Spiffy! We are addressing the severe lack of wastewater treatment in developing countries. Conventional approaches are simply not working, meaning over 90% of our effluent is discharged entirely untreated. Through our work, our communities are able to take charge of their wastewater, treat it, and produce long-lasting benefits for the environment, society, and economy. We accomplish this by bringing down the cost of building and maintaining wastewater treatment plants and by transforming what is typically a taxing, unpleasant, and untidy process into beautiful green spaces through dignified work.

Spiffy: What motivates you to do it?

Mshila: The horrific effects that untreated wastewater is having on our communities and environment are something we see every day. Our rivers and water sources are a source of illness and hardship. They ought to be a wellspring of life, livelihood, and regeneration. We are motivated by the fact that one in three people worldwide suffers from water scarcity and one in four will drink from a source of water contaminated by feces. People cultivate their own food, drink, and bathe in the effluent we discard. This state of affairs is intolerable to us. On the other hand, we approach our work each day with enthusiasm because we know that it is contributing to a very real, uplifting, and respectable solution to this issue.

Spiffy: Can you further elaborate for me the impact of your work?

Mshila: Over 6,000 people have benefited from Omiflo’s systems to date. We have created systems for schools, nonprofits, research, and development groups like ILRI, ecotourism, and organizations that support conservation, such as the Maa Trust and the Africa Fund for Endangered Wildlife. We have been recognized for our work with prizes and acknowledgements. Our solutions eliminate pollutants that contaminate ground and surface water, ruining our rivers, oceans, and the lives of people living downstream. We prevent around 250,000 liters of sewage from polluting our environment daily and recover 32,000 liters per day that is being utilized for irrigation, tree nurseries, flushing toilets, washing cars and more.

Spiffy: Wow, that’s really very inspiring! Next, can you please share a recent organization milestone or initiative and the impact it makes on your community?

Mshila: We are working with a school in Kenya to pilot our first Pay As You Benefit (PAYB) concept. With this strategy, projects can be pre-financed, and customers pay for the recycling system as it is used over time. This enables us to assist consumers who are unable to pay the treatment system's initial capital cost. If it is effective, we will be able to give lower-income consumers, such as schools, better access to wastewater treatment. The recovery and recycling of water offers enormous advantages for them by reducing the cost of acquiring water, reducing waste management costs, and reducing their impact on their environment.

Spiffy: Is there anything else you would love to tell our audience?

Mshila: Studies have revealed that the greenhouse gas emissions resulting from on-site sanitation are considerably greater than initially believed. This is made worse by the fact that, over the past 20 years, the proportion of people in developing nations who are linked to a sewer line has progressively decreased, leading to an increased reliance on onsite sanitation services. By using our technologies, users avoid most of the associated greenhouse gas emissions and are removed from on-site sanitation. One of our objectives is to verify our data and establish a potential carbon revenue stream from recycling wastewater.

Spiffy: Thanks for speaking with me today, Mshila—it’s been an honor!

Mshila Sio is an entrepreneur focused on sustainable design in the field of wastewater treatment. He is the founder of Omiflo, a wastewater treatment company that uses energy and chemical-free systems to convert wastewater into clean water. Mshila has over six years of experience developing nature-based systems. Over the years, he has received several awards and acknowledgements for his dedication. Most recently, he was one of the winners of the “What Design Can Do—No Waste Challenge and is a 2023 Solver at MIT Solve Global Challenges, where he was a recipient of the 2023 Prince Albert II of Monaco Ocean Innovation Prize and the Good Energies Foundation Living Forest Prize. (Nominated by Maya Bingaman at MIT Solve. First published on the Ladderworks website on March 23, 2024.)

The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the interviewee and do not necessarily reflect those of Ladderworks LLC.

© 2024 Ladderworks LLC. Edited by Anushree Nande. Spiffy’s illustration by Shreyas Navare. For the Ladderworks digital curriculum to help K-3 kids advance the UN SDGs, visit Spiffy's Launchpad: Creative Entrepreneurship Workshops for K-3 Kids and their caregivers here.