Safety and convenience – Why Lucy Chiamate loves her Fresh Life Toilet
Three decades ago, at only 19 years old, Lucy Chiamate moved to Nairobi in search of a better life. It is here that she met and married Paris Wambua, who worked at the Mater Hospital. They began their life together in Kayaba’s Mariguini area. “At the time, there were very few of us living here, there were large tracts of un-built land, and life was generally very easy,” recalls Lucy.
The couple acquired a small piece of land to build their house and start a small farm growing tomatoes, onions, kale, and eggplants. “We were able to feed ourselves and earn some money by selling surplus produce,” she adds.
During these years, Lucy and her neighbors shared sanitation facilities. With no sewerage system in place, the few toilets were pit latrines that channeled waste into the nearby river.
By 2000, the population in the area had grown exponentially. The large tracts of land were filled with rental units, and there was no more land left for farming. . Lucy and her husband decided to build three rental units on what had once been their farm. “While I continued selling produce, I now had to buy the vegetables from Marikiti market in the city centre and sell them at a higher price here in Kayaba,” Lucy says.
As the community grew, so did the demands on the few available toilets, and the effects were stark: “Sanitation seriously deteriorated; flying toilets were everywhere from roof tops to pathways, and the result was a cholera and dysentery outbreak in 2007 and 2008,” she says. In response to the outbreak, the Kenyan Ministry of Health began training programs on cholera prevention. As a result, demand for proper toilets increased, and enterprising residents set up pay-per-use toilets to meet the need. Most of these facilities were located by the riverbank to channel all the waste into the river.
When Fresh Life entered Kayaba in 2013, residents understood the importance of using hygienic sanitation solutions and were willing to pay for clean and accessible toilets.
“Today, Fresh Life has offered us an excellent solution which is both safe and convenient,” Lucy exclaims.
Lucy, her family, and her tenants loved the Fresh Life Toilet; however, the closest one was nearly 50 meters away from their compound. For even greater convenience and safety, Lucy decided to open a plot-commercial hybrid toilet closer to where she lived and worked. Opened in June of last year, her toilet was the twenty-ninth one in Kayaba. In the past year, it has brought immense sanitation improvement to her neighborhood.
It is easily accessible to her tenants and family, just as she had hoped. “We have also increased the area’s cleanliness because Fresh Life teammates ensure daily waste collection at our facility,” she says.
Shopkeepers and families in the neighborhood use Lucy’s Fresh Life Toilet, too; adults pay five shillings, while children pay three shillings per use. The Fresh Life Toilet not only provides her an extra source of income but also offers her daughter Sarah a job during her free time.
“For the last year as a part of the Fresh Life network, I have learnt a lot about customer care and hygiene in running a successful business. This has also helped boost the snacks and water vending business that my husband I run,” she says.
Lucy is very optimistic about the future of Kayaba. “Other Fresh Life Operators and local leaders in this area have been very cooperative and vocal about ensuring cleanliness of our environment. It is something we are teaching everybody and particularly our young children,” she says.