“I want a clean Mukuru!” – George Kiraithe
George Kiraithe, a well-respected property manager in Mukuru, begins his day by inspecting a variety of rental units. He then works with prospective landlords in the area to help them build rental units or sell pieces of land. Kiraithe has been in this business for over a decade and he understands the dynamics of land ownership in informal settlements. In fact, he is the founder of the famous Kengele Agents in Mukuru, which he launched in 2004.
Mukuru is rapidly growing and there is very little space left to set up more infrastructure. One of the biggest challenges that landlords have to grapple with is providing their tenants with clean sanitation options.
In Diamond, a neighborhood in Mukuru where most of Kiraithe’s properties are, the majority of community members have been using pit latrines. However, with poor drainage systems, these have not been an adequate solution for the residents. “It is very expensive to maintain this toilets especially during the rainy season which requires frequent emptying at a cost of Ksh. 600 per barrel, ” Kiraithe says. Each session requires 2-5 barrels of waste emptied so that the latrine can serve more people. This only lasts a while.
‘Frogmen’ in the area who use buckets to manually empty the waste into large drums often do the emptying service. The large drums are then loaded onto a handcart and all of the waste is then dumped in a nearby river. This poses an environmental and health hazard to his community. Kiraithe, whose house was connected to a sewer, did not have it easy either. The bathroom and toilet were always out of use due to frequent blockages. It then became expensive to keep repairing them.
When Fresh Life Toilets began penetrating Diamond two years ago, Kiraithe was among the first to invest. “I like Fresh Life Toilets because they have an innovative, safe and affordable sanitation solution,” he reiterates. The regular waste collection services provided by Fresh Life was one of the main reasons he became part of the Fresh Life movement.
Kiraithe’s Fresh Life Toilets serve about 70 people in 11 households and his three employees. He has also referred over five entrepreneurs to the Fresh Life team. The entrepreneurs who own pit latrines are now converting them to Fresh Life Toilets. Running a successful land agency has also been valuable to Kiraithe. It has provided him an opportunity to gain access to government leaders in the area. He has been on the forefront in lobbying for a cleaner Mukuru.
Kiraithe believes that solutions like Fresh Life are testament to the innovations that can be adopted to improve the life of residents living in informal settlements. “I want a clean Mukuru, and I believe even with the existing challenges, this is possible if we invest in the right solutions.”