“Everyone loves access to a clean toilet, and Fresh Life is making it happen for us!” – Haron Nyaguoka’s story
Being a landlord in Nairobi’s informal settlements is a tough business; although demand for housing outstrips supply, residents are often transient, regularly moving from unit to unit in search of better value. To increase occupancy and reduce turnover, landlords have started offering amenities for tenants, including raised units to minimize the impact of flooding, communal verandahs, and in-plot access to sanitation solutions.
To help landlords provide round-the-clock access to hygienic and sanitary toilet services easily to their tenants, we make it easy for them to invest in Fresh Life Toilets for their rental plots.
One such landlord and Fresh Life Operator is Haron Nyaguoka, who owns several businesses: a barbershop, a water vending business, a grocery shop, and rental units.
Haron has lived in Nairobi’s informal settlements for over two decades; before moving to Mukuru Kwa Reuben, he lived in Kibera and Kawangware slums. Wherever he moved, he was plagued by a recurring challenge: a dearth of good sanitation options. “Owing to a lack of sewer lines to properly remove waste,” Haron says, “providing a toilet for tenants was not a priority for landlords. The majority of toilets were found along river banks, disposing waste directly into the river.”
In 2003, Haron moved to Mukuru Kwa Reuben after building a rental plot with nine housing units. At the time, he did not have the room to install toilets in the plot, so his family and tenants used neighboring pit latrines located about a hundred meters from the rental units. The distance to these toilets was particularly difficult for the children in the compound, including Haron’s own: “Concerned for their safety, we rarely sent children to these toilets at night; as a result, most of them would defecate around the compound. This increased all the residents’ risk of contracting illnesses such as diarrhea,” he says.
Haron’s tenants frequently moved out, and he struggled to fill the empty units; he suspected the waste strewn throughout the plot deterred potential tenants. Recognizing that the situation was untenable, Haron created some space in the backyard of his plot to construct a pit latrine to curb the open defecation in his plot. However, the cost of maintaining the toilet was too high: “During the rainy season the toilet would overflow, forcing me to hire people to empty it on a weekly basis at a cost of 400 Kenyan shillings per drum,” he says, adding that on average it would take four to seven drums to empty the toilet completely. Following these challenges, the pit latrine did not last very long: it was eventually washed away by the rains.
“I learnt about Fresh Life Toilets when our pit latrine crumbled, and we began using a neighbor’s facility,” Haron says. His neighbor, Dennis, introduced Haron to Fresh Life field officers who provided all the information he needed to acquire his Fresh Life Toilet.
“Fresh Life is the solution we had been looking for! We no longer have to worry about expensive ways to manage our waste, and we rarely have flies as our compound is always clean,” smiles Agnes Moraa, Haron’s wife. The duo ensures that the toilet is always clean and available to tenants throughout the day. Regular waste collection plays a big role in keeping the toilet ready for use.
Currently, all of Haron’s units are occupied, for which he credits his Fresh Life Toilet. “The majority of people living in slums desire good sanitary facilities for their children, and access to a clean toilet is becoming a priority for them,” he says.
In order to ensure a long-term Fresh Life Toilet service to his tenants, Haron raised the rent for each unit by 200 Kshs per month. “I explained to my tenants that this fee would go to ensuring a consistent waste collection service, and they were okay with the arrangement. They were happy with Fresh Life Toilets as even during the rains, there was no clogging or overflowing,” he says.
In addition, compared to the 5 Kshs cost per use they incurred to access public toilet services, this was a cheaper option for them.
Ecstatic about the fruitful partnership with Fresh Life, Haron now plans to build additional rental units, which will also have Fresh Life Toilets in them.
“I am also encouraging my fellow landlords to join the network so as to end open defecation and flying toilets in our neighborhoods,” he says. We are thrilled that more entrepreneurs and community leaders like Haron are committed to providing hygienic sanitation in their communities!