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.

Charles in charge

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.

Checking for cracks

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.

  • Thank you, Charles, for your enthusiastic, thoughtful, and oh-so-essential response to such a challenging problem in the slums of Kenya and around the world. Well done! Keep it up!

  • I will be honest – I had not heard about your processes and system. I’m happy I did. I have been looking for this and anyone who knows me can testify to that.
    We need to focus on urban areas. Bring safe sanitation to the people. Establish systems that pickup the waste, bring it to energy production plants, establish the business model that allow for rapid growth and local production.
    I love to help!

    Bjorn von Euler

  • I am looking for a solution for rural KZN, they don’t have proper sanitation and now people are moving away from urban areas to build big houses and they need proper sanitation, can you help.

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