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NGOs using shipping containers as schools

7 Ways NGOs are Benefitting from Container Fabrication Technology in Kenya

For generations, Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) have promoted social-cultural growth, economic progress and recovery and restoration practices all over the world.

In Kenya, NGOs actively engage in advancing human rights, child care, women’s welfare, social responsibility, health and education, disaster management and environmental conservation.

For instance, NGOs provide food, clothing and shelter for communities affected floods, famine, fire, volcanoes, and other disasters.

What are Some of the NGOs in Kenya?

NGOs are normally either local, regional or international.

Some local/regional NGOs in Kenya include;

Kenya Human Rights Commission (khrc.or.ke)Advocating for the development of a culture and lifestyle that observes human rights and democracy.
Inua Dada Foundation (inuadadafoundation.org)Media personality Janet Mbugua founded this organization to advance the rights and freedom and inspire endless possibilities of and for Kenya’s girl child.
Margaret Kenyatta FoundationKenya’s former first lady established this foundation to extend social, cultural and economic aid to the vulnerable in society. The same pioneers the Beyond Zero initiative which works towards Maternal and child health safety and care.
Big Life Foundation (biglife.org)Operational in Kenya and East Africa, this organization works to prevent poaching and all secondary activities surrounding the illegal act.
Jamii Bora Foundation (jamiiboratrust.org)In 1999, Jamii Bora was established to, among other activities, strengthen the Kenyan family unit through poverty eradication.
Malaika Trust OrganizationGospel Musician Daddy Owen and his partners founded this organization to identity, recognize and uplift children living with disabilities as well as help them attain their optimum potential.
Ahadi Kenya Trust (jigger-ahadi.org)Like many other countries, Kenya is grappling with drugs and substance abuse. This organization was formed to combat that.
The Green Belt Movement (greenbeltmovement.org)Founded by former environmentalist the late Wangari Maathai, the GBM promotes environmental conservation practices at the local, national and international level.

Major international NGOs in Kenya are listed below;

World Vision (wvi.org/kenya/)Established in 1950, WV is a humanitarian entity active in over 100 countries striving to end child poverty.
Tupande (One Acre Fund) (oneacrefund.org)OAF partners with Kenyan farmers to educate, empower and enhance agricultural productivity through proper planning, planting, caring, harvesting and sales of plant-based products.
Association for Volunteers in International Service (AVSI) (avsi.org)This is a global organization that promotes self-belief and protects persons through humanitarian aid projects and undertakings.
Helping Kenya Kids, USA (sm.or.ke)Based in the USA, this organization works on multiple fronts to instill hope and motivate communities and children in the country by extending aid, financing projects and creating relationships.
Kenya Red Cross (redcross.or.ke)The Red Cross observes and practices the Geneva Conventions of 1949 which are applicable across countless humanitarian aspects including disaster management, proper nutrition in societies as well as organizational progress.
St. John’s Ambulance Kenya (stjohnkenya.org)Here, medical emergency, preventive and curative services are extended to affected persons. Saving lives remains a top priority through training on First Aid skills.
Aga Khan Foundation (akfke.org)The organization tackles some of the challenges in the poorest communities with the aim of improving the futures of the past and present generations.
Kamili Health Organization (kamilimentalhealth.org)Recognizing the importance and vulnerability of people to mental health wellness, this organization offers free mental health services through 30+ clinics all over the country.

These organizations attain their objectives by establishing operation camps, formal offices, education and health provision centers, guidance and counselling facilities and more.

For years, such establishments depended on conventional building involving concrete, brick, wood, mortar, etc.

Then about a decade ago, companies such as Premium Containers Kenya introduced the container refurbishment technology.

Though this alternative, establishments such as offices, houses, clinics, stores and ablutions are quickly and cheaply set up.

As a consequence, most NGOs adopted this new approach. Here, we examine how NGOs have, and continue to benefit from container fabrication technology in Kenya.

1. NGOs Get to Save Money

Container fabrication technology is probably the cheapest form of building in Kenya. Statistically, fabricated containers save up to 30% in finances compared to concrete and mortar per unit square.

This means a 20ft x 8ft container office will cost 30% less compared to a concrete one of similar dimensions.

 As a consequence, NGOs funding establishments such as clinics, classrooms, houses, and offices can make savings and divert the funds to other areas of concern.

Saving money while getting similar services and products is always a win in any undertaking.

Still on saving finances, its inexpensive to clean and maintain constructed container structures. Normally, the structures can last for years through routine cleaning and repainting.

Also, the need for repairs are minimal since it takes long for container parts to get damaged. Thankfully, the parts such as electrical, flooring materials, steel frames as well as interior insulation materials are readily locally available and highly affordable in cases where replacements are necessary.

Technically, the costs for fabricated container units are standardized. There are regular prices for one-bedroom houses, two bedrooms houses, single 20ft and 40ft offices and so on. This allows room for easy budgeting.

Some companies such as PC offer warranty periods of up to 12 months on newly constructed establishments meaning customers get to benefit from free repairs and replacement services in this period.

2. They Get to Save Time

This is a no brainer. NGOs normally have a flurry of activities going on and as such, saving time is important for proper planning, budgeting, organizing and executing.

Now, containers are quickly to convert into a myriad of designs in the shortest time possible.

For instance, a single 40ft office is fabricated and completed in just 7 days.

One major reason for this is the minimal use of water.

When building with concrete and mortar, for instance, water-dependent sections such as foundations and walls take days, sometimes weeks, to cure and dry before progressing to next steps.

Container fabrication incorporates water majorly during paintwork (which dries in 3 to 4 hours) and installation of interior floors with tiles, wood, vinyl or epoxy spray (another 3 to 4 hours).

Remember flooring and painting can be done simultaneously.

Another is the speed and ease with which the various components are installed and fixed. In less than an hour, the door and window sections are measured and cut for a single 20ft or 40ft.

The roofing of a clinic, house or office involving three containers (usually with steel frames and box profile roofing sheets) can be completed in 8 hours.

Hence, if your organization looks to build multiple structures in a matter of weeks, you needn’t think twice.

3. Container Structures Can Readily be Set Up in the Most Remote Locations

Most NGOs operate in arid and semi-arid areas where roads, water, electricity and mobile communication are wanting.

These inadequacies characterize a large portion of rural Kenya.

Now containers can be readily delivered and installed in these areas thanks to their extreme portability and the heavy duty, off-road designed delivery equipment.

Container trucks have the remarkable capacity to access some of the most isolated places.

From single containers, clinics, offices, stores, ablutions, and libraries can be ferried to locations where none exist.

Hence, structures that were once impossible to build in such regions can now be made from used containers and delivered. 

4. Container Structures Ease the Movement and or Relocation for NGOs

NGOs move a lot, expand fast, and operate intensely.

They often move entirely or partially from one location to another. In such cases, single-unit container structures can easily be loaded onto trucks and dispatched to new sites.

Multi-unit container structures (involving two or more containers joined together) can be disassembled, transported and reassembled at intended locations.

Where two or more containers are joined together, they are readily separated by cutting along joined edges and reconnected through welding, skimming, and sealing off with various reliable materials and equipment.

Such operations would incur minimal damages, time, and costs. On the other hand, structures set up with concrete are permanent and impossible to relocate.

Since NGOs expand in terms of operations, assets, structures, personnel, and scope of work., the use of shipping containers for building makes for easy change of environments and spaces thereby also saving on time, expenses, and damages.

5. NGOs Can Advertise their Portfolio Using Fabricated Containers

NGOs are identified via unique brand names, logos, color codes, products and services, mission and vision statements and more.

These identifications illustrate the image of the NGO to the local community, stakeholders, sponsors, and partners.

Colors, for instance, can be designed to match the objective of an NGO as well as set the tone and mood.

Kenyan NGOs embracing shipping container structures in facilitating their projects.

A shipping container emblazoned with the color schemes and logo of one of the organizations in Kenya.

Hence, whether moving or stationery, fabricated containers are perfect instruments for the same.

NGOs can have these printed and branded onto the surfaces of the container.

Note that branding creates strong connections with stakeholders and also cuts-down various operational hurdles such as inquiries during transit.

6. Shipping Container Fabrication Promotes Environmental Conservation

Recycling and utilizing decomposable materials are two significant pillars of environment conservation.

Most fabricated containers are second-hand having served shipping purposes.

Every year, millions of shipping containers are retired and NGOs would greatly benefit if shipowners embraced sustainable recycling of containers.

By repurposing these, fabrication companies and NGOs would help in reducing waste.

Additionally, containers are made of steel, a naturally bio-degradable environmentally friendly material which is healthy for a well-nourished environment.

Repurposing shipping containers also cuts down waste since very little material is discarded.

The quantity of materials required for conversion is standardized over the years.

Hence, most of what is used, from interior insulation material, flooring material, cutting and framework and roofing is consumed in its entirety.

Whatever is leftover can easily be re-used.

Repurposing also increases the shelf-life of shipping containers.

Designed to withstand the rigorous weather of the sea, these equipment, when converted can then be utilized for decades as useful, functional units rather than waste.

Most NGOs are highly sensitive of the environment and the need to keep it clean and natural.

Building with containers is a great avenue to a well-conserved, sustainable, environment.

7. Partnering with Local Contractors Creates Strong, Lasting Associations Between NGOs, the Kenya Government and Local Communities

NGOs deeply care about the people at the grassroots level.

Often, these NGOs are disturbed by the inevitable policies from the governments and local partners and stakeholders.

Whenever NGOs setup operations in Kenya, their relationship with the Government, businesses and the citizenry often spells the difference between success and failure.

And NGOs generally aim to succeed.

Thankfully, it is through partnerships and collaborations that any misunderstandings and misconceptions are iron out and resolved.

Most NGOs find that in cases where partnerships have lasted some time, navigations and operations become easier.

For instance, information regarding taxation and tax exemptions, operational validation and approvals are easily managed.

According to the KRA website, NGOs identifying as Not-for Profit organization (NPOs) can apply for verities of tax exemptions by making applications to the Cabinet Secretary for National Treasury.

As with contractors, an understanding is developed whereby the contractors apply the building specifications and standards of the NGOs and vice-versa.

Simply put, better understanding breeds better service delivery. With time, next-to-perfect outputs are realized.

Furthermore, long term partnerships with local contractors often means budget incentives.

In Kenya, a number of container fabrication companies are known to offer cut-down budgets for return customers.

The same goes for warranties involving repairs and breakages for specified periods.

One of these firms, Premium Containers, extends 12-month warranties for repairs involving breakages and or damages as well as percentage discounts for all return customers.

When NGOs partner with such companies, they can benefit from free services and reduced costs. This would mean saving funds that can then be diverted elsewhere.

See Also: A Premium Containers Clinic Project in IL-KERIN, Narok County


Today, organizations and technology are regular bedfellows.

And in Kenya, NGOs and container fabrication have joined the growing list of long-term, unbreakable partnerships.

It is true that NGOs benefit a great deal from the container repurposing approach to building construction.

While there’s no telling how long this could last, it is safe to conclude container fabrication helps NGOs enhance their operations, associations, protocols, and portfolios.

Welcome to the new age of container refurbishment.

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