Getting to sanitation for all – 2016 in review

Happy new year! We want to take a moment to reflect on all that happened in the past year; 2016 was a banner year for Sanergy, and we look forward to sharing our progress with you!

In our mission of ensuring access to safe and affordable sanitation to everyone, we have massively grown the number of Fresh Life Toilets across Nairobi slums, improved the efficiency of waste removal from the community, and honed our processes for waste treatment and re-use.

Below is a recap of our successes and lessons learnt over the past year.

Rapidly growing our Fresh Life Network

Mary Chiwai, Pubilc Health Officer, welcoming FLO Geoffrey Maera into the Fresh Life network

In 2016 alone, we launched a total of 340 Fresh Life Toilets and recruited 181 new Fresh Life Operators in our network. And for the first time, we had two consecutive months in which we launched 40 toilets! In Mathare, one of our new areas of expansion, we have launched 34 Fresh Life Toilets so far. We increased the network’s average daily usage from 30,000 in 2015 to 37,000 in 2016. And by providing exemplary customer service, we increased the FLO retention rate to 98%.

Using data analytics, we have worked to better understand our customers’ needs. Last year we revamped our monthly Mystery Loo User survey to the Quality Assurance Check, which has both helped us standardize the quality of sanitation service delivery across our network and helped our Fresh Life Operators attract and retain more customers.

Also, in Mathare, where it was initially challenging to penetrate the market, we conducted a market research survey that ultimately led to the design of a new sales model: ‘fee-for-service’ Fresh Life Toilets to make our offering more attractive to landlords who co-own plots or live far from the plots they own.

Innovating and testing new solutions for sanitation provision

Since launching in 2011, Fresh Life Toilets have been our sole offering to address the sanitation crisis in Nairobi’s slums. However, we know that the Fresh Life Toilet is not a one-size-fits-all solution, and this year, we have introduced a variety of innovative solutions that are ideal where Fresh Life Toilets are not and that offer additional options for the safe containment, collection, and removal of waste.

Last year, 20 households purchased the Fresh Fit, to provide their families with in-home access to hygienic sanitation solutions.

The Fresh Fit In-Home toilet is one such offering, a solution that provides secure and convenient in-home access to safe sanitation. Since launching a pilot in October 2016, 20 households in the Bins Area of Mukuru have installed the facility in their homes, and customer feedback has been overwhelmingly positive.

The other solution we have been testing out is emptying existing pit latrines and converting them to Fresh Life Toilets, as a way to reduce the barriers to joining the Fresh Life network for those who have already invested in sanitation solutions.

While converting pit latrines to Fresh Life Toilets ensures more secure waste containment, it also promotes access to clean and easy-to-maintain toilets for entrepreneurs and residents in informal settlements.

By the end of 2016, we had converted six pit latrines to Fresh Life Toilets.

Safely collecting, treating, and converting waste into valuable end-products

In keeping with our commitment of providing safe and sustainable sanitation solutions to urban populations, we treat and convert 100% of the waste collected from our Fresh Life Toilets into valuable end – products that contribute to improving Kenya’s food security while also ensuring the financial viability of our operations.

Our new waste treatment process uses a 16-ton mixer to combine toilet waste, organic waste, maize cobs, and lime.

Last year, we moved away from the composting process we’d been using, instead transitioning to a corn-lime conversion process, in which we combine toilet waste with organic waste, maize cobs, and lime and lay the mixture directly in windrows to expedite the maturation process.

This shift has tremendously improved our overall efficiency in converting waste to organic fertilizer. While the process enhances safety of our staff, it has reduced the maturation time of Evergrow Organic Fertilizer and increased our production capacity from four tonnes a day to up to 10 tonnes.

We have also been working to scale our PureProtein animal feed production, designing a new facility, growing our Black Soldier Fly colony, and developing relationships with feed millers interested in buying our product.

Building teammates’ skills to achieve our organizational goals  

Building our teammates’ capacity to achieve our organizational targets has been a critical part of our operations. And throughout last year our teammates have had opportunities to participate in trainings that have exposed them to new knowledge and people that have mentored them.

Three of our teammates attended the American Express Leadership Academy at The Thunderbird School of Global Management in Arizona in May, and an additional three teammates participated in a yearlong training workshop for managers run by Acumen and the African Management Institute.

These opportunities – as well as internal trainings run by our Learning and Development team and external venues for new voices to showcase our work – have helped our teammates grow professionally and contribute to the organization in new ways.

Last year was an incredible one for Sanergy, and we are excited for what 2017 will bring!

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