‘We’re committed to ending open defecation!’ – Vihiga community launches first Fresh Life Toilets

‘Tafhadhali angalia chini. ‘Inspector Ondieki’ wako kila mahali.” (“Please watch your step. ‘Inspector Ondieki’ is everywhere.”) Walking around his neighborhood, Samuel frequently repeats this advice. Visitors are often confused until Samuel points to freshly dumped feces on the green grass. “Inspector Ondieki,” Samuel explains, is the local slang term for anything that should be avoided. The term covers everything from mangy animals to the flying toilets that litter the ground. According to Samuel, a particular pathway was a popular “poop spot” because of its proximity to the river, where the waste washes away easily.

Vihiga community members celebrate the opening of new Fresh Life Toilets in their neighborhood.

Samuel lives in Vihiga, a small village tucked within the Kiambiu informal settlement of Nairobi. He has lived here for sixteen years with his wife and two children.

In Samuel’s community, open defecation is a common practice, particularly in the rainy season. Before Sanergy came along, the two working pit latrines that served the community of several hundred people were not in good condition. When it rained, water leaked into the toilets causing flooding; children risked slipping and falling. At night, the distance to the toilets was not safe – women and particularly young girls risk getting raped.

“I saw the Fresh Life Toilet for the first time in Muthurwa market. Curious, I used the facility and liked it. That piqued my interest in running a Fresh Life Toilet of my own,” says Samuel. However, he did not know what to do or whom to approach for advice.

Benard and Samuel (FLOs)
Bernard (l) and Samuel (r) now provide hygienic sanitation to their neighbors in Vihiga, Kiambiu.

Four months later, their Area Chief announced a meeting in his office, where the Fresh Life team were present. This was an answered prayer for Samuel who shared the news with his best friend Bernard. Together they attended the meeting, to learn about this toilet and how they would own one.

Dennis Mogunde, a Fresh Life Sales Associate, provided them with all the information they needed. They exchanged contacts, and Samuel thought through this prospective business idea. “I was motivated when Dennis told us about Kiva’s interest-free loan option for financing our business,” says Samuel.

Last month, Samuel and Bernard’s Fresh Life Toilets, the first facilities of their kind in Vihiga area, were launched. The community was excited: “I have never seen this kind of toilet. It is beautiful!” exclaimed Consolata, a resident. They were very attentive when Fresh Life Teammate Peter taught them how to properly use the toilets.

Bernard instructs Vihiga community members on proper use of the new Fresh Life Toilets.

These facilities come with numerous benefits to the Vihiga community. For instance John, popularly known to his friends as “Kandrasi,” will now enjoy restful nights: “I rarely sleep while trying to guard my backyard from ‘poop dumping.’”

Bernard, a tea vendor, hopes that the persistent stench that has been an impediment to the success of his business will come to an end. He and Samuel hope to make extra income to provide for their families. And ultimately, “In the long run, we hope ‘Inspector Ondiekis’ will be nowhere on our footpaths,” Bernard says.

The enthusiasm and cooperation the community has shown for Samuel and Bernard’s toilet facilities are an indication of their commitment to ending open defecation in Vihiga area. We are here to help them achieve that.

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