“We’re committed to serving non-sewered areas in developing cities.” – Sanergy’s Chief Operations Officer Titus Kuria
The rapid growth of cities will see at least 6.5 billion people living in cities by 2050. One of the challenges that comes with this huge growth is the minimal access to safe sanitation services. At present, alternative sanitation solutions are still largely missing and the existing ones – sewers – are too expensive and too impractical to build and maintain. And yet, prioritizing sanitation, is one of the best investments that a city can make: for ever $1 invested, there’s a $5.50 social return. When that investment is not happening, it is the residents of urban informal settlements who bear the brunt.
Sanergy’s Chief Operations Officer Titus Kuria, who joined us in April 2017, shares how he envisions changing the sanitation story of Nairobi and other cities.
What path led you to Sanergy?
I grew up in Eastligh; one of Nairobi’s sub areas. My parents struggled to make ends meet and it was difficult for them to access quality services and products. I joined the workforce with one goal in mind – to help low-income communities thrive and improve their quality of life. I worked in the banking sector developing tailor-made financial packages that would help small scale entrepreneurs access capital and gain financial literacy they needed to run their businesses. Now, I’m thrilled to work with Sanergy to achieve the same goal, providing high quality, affordable and accessible sanitation solutions to residents living in informal settlements.
What does your role entail?
I perform an oversight role to ensure that we deepen coverage in the hard-to-reach areas in urban informal settlements. Sewers cannot reach everyone and we have to think of innovative solutions that cater to the different needs of those who live in urban slums. Their wishes and needs are key to us, and we always strive to provide a positive experience of our sanitation products and services. To achieve this, I spend most of my days in meetings with my team of vibrant change makers to develop smart strategies that inform our work.
What strategy has Sanergy implemented to address this gap in sanitation?
We recently launched a fee-for-service model that lowers the costs for landlords looking to invest in quality sanitation for their tenants. A Fresh Life Toilet in a residential plot means that families and their children have round the clock access to safe sanitation. The landlords simply pay a monthly service fee of $8.50 which comes with safe and professional waste removal services.
Significantly lowering the cost barrier has seen a tremendous uptake in Fresh Life Toilets in the communities where we work. This means we are serving more people with hygienic sanitation for the very first time. We are really excited about scaling and reaching thousands more in the community.
How do you ensure that your team is constantly motivated to serve our Fresh Life Operators?
When I joined Sanergy, I found an enthusiastic and vibrant team that is keen on making a difference. As a team, we invest in creating avenues for innovation, celebrating every victory and recognizing each teammates’ contribution.
Looking ahead to 2018, what plans does your team have?
We envision a clean and attractive Nairobi city whose sanitation infrastructure can sustainably accommodate the growing population. In addition to Fresh Life Toilets, we also want to reach everyone by scaling a repertoire of alternative sanitation offerings that are not only sustainable in the long run but also economically viable.