Finding room for a toilet in crowded Kayaba

The global urban population is rapidly growing; currently, 1 billion people live in urban slums, and the UN projects that it will reach 2.5 billion people by 2050. In informal settlements, this growth comes with numerous challenges that affect the living conditions of residents; key among them is very limited space.

Currently, Nairobi slums are home to approximately 2 million people occupying only 5% of the city’s residential area. This small fraction of available land has resulted in congested and inadequate housing by residents.

In addition, access to clean water and sustainable sanitation solutions is rare. Residents therefore resort to open defecation, causing the spread of cholera, diarrhea and other hygiene-related illnesses.

Sanergy constantly innovates its sanitation system to address these challenges and ultimately provide sustainable sanitation solutions that can be replicated across slums in different areas of the city and beyond.

Our Fresh Life Toilets, for instance, are designed to fit in a 1-by-1.5-meter space to ensure access even within residential areas. The FLT’s compact size made it the ideal solution for Kayaba resident George Otieno, who was looking for ways to provide hygienic sanitation for his family and neighbors.

img_8217George is a father of two and an entrepreneur who runs Butere Electronics, a well-known repair shop in Kayaba’s Crescent Area, and one commercial Fresh Life Toilet, which he opened in 2015.

While he was interested in joining the Fresh Life network, acquiring space in which to install even the compact Fresh Life Toilet was his biggest challenge. “I was looking for a convenient spot near my home and the electronics shop because I wanted my wife, two daughters, and customers to easily access the toilet,” he says.

George reached out to his landlady and longtime friend Agnes. As a plot owner, Agnes was grappling with high tenant turnover, as her housing units did not have any toilet facilities. The duo developed a plan that would suit both their needs and worked with Fresh Life’s government relations team to draft and sign a lease agreement at the chief’s office in Kayaba. George’s Fresh Life Toilet is now located in Agnes’s plot and serves both Agnes’s tenants and their entire neighborhood.

It has been eighteen months now since George’s FLT opened, and the fruits of the partnership are already visible. Agnes has been able to retain her tenants, while George has ensured that his wife and daughters have round-the-clock access to a toilet.

In order to repay his and break even in his Fresh Life business, George has worked to attract and retain as many customers as possible. “Currently, I serve up to 200 customers every single day, the majority of whom are entrepreneurs in Crescent Area and residents at Agnes’s plot,” he says.

George spends his day at the premises managing his shop and the Fresh Life Toilet, which are adjacent to each other. He is able to keep an eye on the plot on behalf of other tenants, something that they are happy with.

He offers excellent service to his customers and keeps accurate records, skills he has learnt from the Fresh Life trainings. “I always serve my customers promptly and with respect. This makes them happy and keeps them coming back,” he adds.

“Once I pay off my  , I will save for additional Fresh Life Toilets,” he says, adding that he is already looking for a suitable installation spot in Kayaba.

We applaud George’s creativity and look forward to his expansion!

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