Celebrating healthy, prosperous communities: The Fresh Life Toilet users’ perspective (Part 2)
Happy World Toilet Day! Sanergy is ecstatic to be celebrating four years of providing hygienic sanitation to the residents of Nairobi’s informal settlements.
Over the years, we have remained committed to providing access to a clean, hygienic, and safe toilet space for our customers. Our users are at the heart of the work we do, and on this World Toilet Day, we want to share a few of their stories. See Consolata’s story here.
Janet and Nyakundi, a businessman in Mukuru, have been friends for a long time. When Nyakundi set up 14 rental units in the middle of Mukuru Kwa Njenga, he recruited Janet to be the caretaker of the plot. At the time she and her husband had one child, so they decided to relocate and live in the plot to make it easier for Janet to serve the tenants.
As the plot’s caretaker, Janet has myriad responsibilities: she ensures that all the housing units in the plot are occupied, and she responds to tenants’ queries on behalf of the landlord. She is well aware of the effect tenant dissatisfaction can have on keeping the plot occupied, since she has witnessed it firsthand.
Two years ago, she did not receive her salary for two months; all tenants had relocated, which meant she did not have a job.
The tenants that had left cited the pit latrines within the plot as their main reason for leaving. Ensuring good maintenance of their toilets was a recurring problem that neither Janet nor Nyakundi could solve. Often during the rainy season, toilets would be rendered unusable due to clogging. Tenants had two alternatives: use plastic bags or incur unplanned toilet costs. Most tenants used plastic bags and stuffed them into the hedges of the plot compound. “I had to clean this mess on a daily basis,” she says. After several complaints, all tenants moved out, leaving Janet’s family the sole tenants in the plot.
A visit to her friend Eunice helped provide a solution. Eunice had purchased two Fresh Life Toilets, and her business was doing well. Janet shared the idea with her husband, and together they convinced Nyakundi to provide Fresh Life Toilets to his tenants.
Two months later, the plot had undergone a complete revamp: two new Fresh Life Toilets, a repaired veranda, and refurbished housing units made the plot attractive once again. “It took us only two weeks to get all 14 houses occupied!” says Janet. Because of the good sanitation and improved cleanliness at the plot, the new tenants are happy with their living arrangements; none of them has moved out in the year and a half since the renovation.
Janet’s work is now much more pleasant. There are no complaints of a smelly compound and toilets. The Fresh Life Toilets are easy to keep clean with proper use. Her family can now use clean toilets, and Janet no longer has to worry about her sons getting sick from unhygienic pit latrines. It motivates her to ensure other families living at the plot have the same experience.
Peninah, one of the tenants, is a single mother of four-year-old Brian. “Cleanliness is always a priority for me when deciding to move to a new plot. Here, we always have a clean compound, and unlike other plots, you can hardly tell we have communal toilets; they never smell.”
Polycarp, Fresh Life’s area field officer, has trained all the tenants on how to use the toilet. The plot residents have all pitched in to help maintain the required cleanliness standards.
The revamp in the plot was a great success; Nyakundi has now established ten additional housing units next door and installed two Fresh Life Toilets for use by the tenants. The units are also fully occupied, and the same cleanliness culture has developed.
Janet says they are now moving in the right direction. Tenants have selected a representative to participate in the Fresh Life forums and to keep them updated on local sanitation developments. In addition, the tenants are responsible for cleaning the toilets throughout the day, so Janet only has to mop them in the morning.
Earning the cleanest plot toilet award in last year’s Fresh Life Operator forum has motivated Janet and the tenants to maintain the cleanliness standards of their toilets. We wish a happy World Toilet Day to Janet and her tenants!