“The reality of slums is that a majority of us don’t have access to flush toilets.” – Samson Ongari, Mukuru resident.
Samson Ongari, a landlord in Mukuru slum, has installed one Fresh Life Toilet for 18 households in his residential plot. Landlords like Samson who have invested in Fresh Life Toilets for their tenants have low tenancy turnover rates, and therefore earn consistent incomes from their rental units. He shares his experience.
Tell us about your rental business
I have eighteen rental units that house my family and seventeen other families. I constructed these units in 1998.
Before Fresh Life Toilets, what was your sanitation experience?
I came to Mukuru in the early 90’s and I have seen sanitation evolve from bad to worse. When I relocated to Mukuru the toilets available were sufficient. However, as more people settled here, the toilets could not suffice. Residents resorted to using flying toilets (pooping in a plastic bag), or openly defecating along pathways. Landlords hardly invested in sanitation facilities, the priority was providing shelter to the growing population. In addition, space constraints deterred landlords like me from investing in sanitation facilities. When I built my rental units, there was no space left to build a toilet for my tenants. I opted to build a pit latrine outside the compound, where I would charge $0.5 per use.
While having this toilet was great, it offered temporary reprieve. Maintaining it was difficult and expensive particularly during the rainy season. This is because the toilet would require frequent emptying at a cost of between $24 and $32 per session. Maintaining the pit latrine proved very expensive for me, I couldn’t keep up.
Investing in non-sewered solutions like Fresh Life is the only way we are going to rid our community of flying toilets and all the ills that come with poor sanitation.
How has installing Fresh Life Toilets improved your business?
Acquiring the Fresh Life Toilet was easy for me, this is because I only need to pay $8.5 per month for the regular and professional waste collection service. The unit also requires very little space to put up and this is what enticed me. My tenants keep telling me I should have done this much sooner! They appreciate that the toilet is clean, safe and open for them to use 24/7. Currently, all my units are occupied. Sanitation in my compound has also improved greatly, young children do not defecate within the compound any more for fear of going to the toilets at night. My units are prime for business!
As a community leader of Mukuru, what do you think it will take to achieve safe sanitation in your area for all?
The reality of slums is that a majority of us don’t have access to flush toilets. So far, we have already made great progress through Fresh Life Toilets, our pathways and neighborhoods are much cleaner. Some of my friends who are landlords are now part of the Fresh Life network. However, there are so many residents who are still underserved. The biggest challenge that most entrepreneurs in the slums face is space. With the local government’s help, entrepreneurs can secure land on which to put up more Fresh Life Toilets. I’m glad that the Fresh Life team works closely with local government leaders to champion safe sanitation in the slums. I’m confident that investing in non-sewered solutions like Fresh Life is the only way we are going to rid our community of flying toilets and all the ills that come with poor sanitation.