Down in the Trenches: Charles Ojiambo, Sanergy Manufacturing Team
Charles Ojiambo is a Sanergy engineer. A graduate of the University of Nairobi, he shared some insights into his motivations for working on sanitation issues and some lessons he’s learned here at Sanergy. These quotes are gold!
What attracted you to the field of sanitation?
When I was at university, they used to call me the “sh*t guy.” Everyone stayed away from sewage projects, but I loved them. Even my self-selected final project was about sanitation.
You might be poor, you might be rich, but if you’re not clean, you have nothing to enjoy. You might have a million bucks, but if it’s in a dirty environment, it doesn’t matter. And there has to be someone to look after people’s sh*t.
How do you think about the design and construction process?
In my mind, I am always trying to make sure that our products are strong, beautiful, and will make everyone want to take a sh*t and relax. Sometimes, I think we should paint the inside a calm yellow.
From a technical viewpoint, how do you think about the fabrication process?
Even building in the slums and making toilets, details matter. I am always making sure that frames are the right size, that there’s enough cement to make concrete strong, that cement is cured properly because I really hate cracks – they mean that the engineer has failed. And it all requires careful maintenance.
What has been the biggest surprise?
I am always surprised how much people value a good sanitation experience. When I tell people about the work that I am doing, they are always like, “Yeah! I love a good toilet.”
Why is Sanergy important for Kenya?
We’ll be living in sewers if we don’t fix this challenge now.