Greening the health infrastructure National Researcher in Kenya

United Nations Environment Programme (UN Environment)

Nairobi, Kenya 🇰🇪

Result of Service

To identify and promote viable green options and the enabling environment necessary to successfully scale them up towards long term greening of public healthcare infrastructure in Kenya.

Work Location


Expected duration

The contract is for a duration of 3 months

Duties and Responsibilities

Background of the Project

UNEP Africa Office and the Resources and Markets Branch is supporting African countries in greening health infrastructure as part of the effort to respond to the COVID-19 crisis and ensure a sustainable and inclusive recovery that will help to transition towards an Inclusive Green Economy and achieve SDGs. As the leading global environmental authority, UNEP has the mandate of delivering on the environmental dimension of sustainable development. In the context of the COVID-19 crisis, UNEP has been working closely with partners (including UNCTs, UNDP, country governments) to ensure a sustainable and inclusive response and recovery through the “Build Back Better” initiative. The project will be part of the Blocks 1 and 3 of the initiative. Drawing upon expertise and experience from UNEP’s work on environment and health, pollution, sustainable infrastructure, Inclusive Green Economy, green industrial policy, clean technologies, resource efficiency, as well as its work and partnerships in Africa, the project will further consolidate UNEP’s delivery at the country level and improve coherence in responding to COVID-19 and future crisis. It will also build synergies with ongoing initiatives such as GO4SDGs, Switch Africa, and Partnership for Action on Green Economy (PAGE) to maximize impact and ensure cost-effectiveness.

Scope of Consultancy

The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed major weaknesses in health systems of many African countries, key among them being the lack of appropriate health infrastructure, shortages of medical personnel and equipment as well as supply chain disruptions. Fanned by the single-use nature of PPEs and other medical facilities in the course of managing potential and infected patients, the rate of waste generation reported by major Covid-19 handling hospitals in the countries in the region is unprecedented. Despite this situation, there is little evidence that waste emanating from these facilities is being managed any differently, risking both human health and the environment. Most health facilities in the region still use the conventional unsustainable incinerators for disposal and management of medical waste through high-temperature combustion, emitting polluting gases into the ambient air. This is happening despite availability of environmentally sustainable (green), cost-efficient alternatives well-suited for progressive health systems.

Most local health facilities have tended to comply to the national guidelines for safe management of healthcare waste that demand of every healthcare facility to have a proper healthcare waste management plan, including packaging, segregation, labelling, transportation, storage, tracking, treatment and disposal. However, the guidelines have often been poorly implemented and any interventions have always been around improving the processes involved in complying to the regulations around the archaic methods of handling medical waste, with little improvement to the environmental pollution attributed to them. The health facilities have similarly rarely involved other actors in the supply chains of the materials used, and rarely considered viable reuse and recycling options. There is urgent need to adopt greener solutions that will not only reduce waste and save on costs but will also strengthen the resilience of health systems in face of future pandemics.

According to WHO Greening Health Systems report (WHO, 2013), developing and enabling an environmentally sustainable and resilient health infrastructure goes beyond just a consideration of recycle and reuse of selected waste streams. It includes water and energy conservation, procurement and logistics management, and management of the built environment within health infrastructure under consideration. It also includes information management systems, considerations of investments and financing, human resources capacity and models of patient and facility care employed. In response to the urgent need to sustainably manage Covid-19 related wastes, the Kenya Government has developed Covid-19 Case Management Guidelines to provide recommendations for comprehensive prevention and case management strategies in Kenya while the National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA) similarly published the Covid-19 management guidelines. The extent to which these guidelines promote green approaches and how many healthcare facilities—both public and private—have embraced them is not clear.

An opportunity is presented to develop green health infrastructure for Kenya consisting of sustainable and inclusive health infrastructure that could improve the country’s resilience to the crisis brought about by Covid-19 and potential future pandemics. It will also ensure that any locally-viable interventions developed are in line with the country’s obligations towards SDGs among others.

2.0 Objectives
The overall objective is to promote green health infrastructural systems to mitigate economic, environmental and social impacts of COVID-19 while building resilience of these systems to potential future pandemics. Specific objectives include:
a.) Identify green innovations (strategies, technologies, policies, practices) that have been highly successful in managing Covid-19 related hazardous waste management;
b.) Identify gaps in existing hazardous medical waste management systems of local private and public healthcare infrastructure that hinder adoption of green solutions; and
c.) Propose strategies and modalities for scaling up best practices best-practices, technologies and innovations towards resilient hazardous Covid-19 medical waste management in Kenya’s healthcare infrastructure.

Duties and Responsibilities

The project will require the services of a consultant who will carry out the following tasks in close coordination with the project’s international technical partner:

  1. Assessment and identification of key challenges
    Coordinate closely with the International Technical partner and implement the assessment of current health infrastructural systems and identifying key challenges in the context of COVID-19 in Kenya, including: handling capacity of medical waste, environmental sustainability and resource efficiency along the full chain, access to state-of-the-art technology, climate and crisis resilience, the social and economic impacts of the COVID-19 crisis (such as impacts on employment, gender differentiated impacts). The consultant will undertake lliterature review, data collection, and conduct data and national context analysis.
  2. Capacity enhancement
    Using the documented best practices and case studies developed by the international technical partner, develop a model project in Kenya, with the consultant providing capacity building guidelines for the project and applying principles from the Sustainable Infrastructure ‘Good Practice Guidance Framework’ to the health sector.
  3. Policy development and implementation
    Assess the adequacy of the country’s regulatory and institutional policy frameworks with the main aim of developing policy guidelines for greening the health infrastructure to transition to a green and circular economy framework. Based on the above activities and in close collaboration with the international technical partner, provide inputs developing evidence-based policies and implementation mechanisms at national and regional levels in Africa

Reporting Lines
The Consultant will work under the UNEP Resource Efficiency and Sustainable Consumption
and Production (SCP) sub-programme in the Africa Office, under the direct supervision of the
Regional Coordinator, RE and SCP.

Qualifications/special skills

Academic Qualifications: Advanced university degree (Master’s degree or equivalent) degree in engineering, sustainable development studies, economics, business administration, environmental management, health policy or relevant fields is required. First Level Degree with additional 2 years of qualifying experience maybe accepted in lieu of advanced degree.
Experience: A minimum of ten years relevant professional experience involving technical and analytical responsibilities; knowledge of policy writing is required.

Experience in environmental context desirable; proven data collection, analysis and communication skills; proven record in producing simple, clear, and high-quality strategic documents; familiarity with and professional experience directly related to and health and/or waste expertise a structure topics an asset; experience working in humanitarian or global development settings, and/or for the UN or other health/development agencies preferred.
Language: Fluency in English required. Knowledge of another UN language is an asset.

No Fee