Entrepreneur spotlight! Here’s how Andrew Foote responded to the mounting statistics of African’s left without proper sanitation, turning lemons to lemonade.
According to charity WaterAid, only three in ten Kenyans have access to a decent toilet, with the remainder dumping their faeces in drains or rivers or burying it. Furthermore, Some 5,000 children in Kenya die every year from diarrhoea caused by dirty water and poor sanitation.
To combat this issue, Foote created Sanivation, a socially-motivated business that is turning poop into profit. Sanivation is a social enterprise dedicated to improving the overall dignity, health, and environment of urbanizing communities in East Africa through delivering clean, safe, and efficient sanitation services. Sanivation provides toilets to 800 households in Naivasha, some 100 kilometres (62 miles) north of the capital, Nairobi.
According to their website, their services are: “In urbanizing communities we install modern container-based toilets in people’s homes for free and charge a small monthly fee to service them. Then, instead of dumping the waste, we transform it into a clean burning alternative to charcoal. Our dependable, user-focused, and vertically integrated sanitation services address the full sanitation value chain and allow families living in urbanizing communities throughout East Africa to live a modern and healthy life.”
Furthermore, they do work to improve the skills of the community. “We license our model to refugee camps to help meet the demand for rapidly and locally deployable sanitation services. We work with implementing partners to design, build, and train local staff and refugees on operating improved sanitation services that meet the demands of camp residents.”
Sanivation has great benefit for communities. Environmentally, it is much safer. “Our fuel saves our clients’ money, reduces CO2 emissions, saves 88 trees per ton used and our toilet service prevents the contamination of local water sources”. The charcoal balls created are sold in supermarkets under the brand Eco Flame, which can be used to cook food. Furthermore, it creates a much more hygienic space aiding in preventing the spread of disease. Finally, and just as important, the service provides safety and dignity to communities. “Our clients can place their toilets in any room in their home providing privacy and convenience while minimizing the abuse or injury that women and children can face when using a toilet.” As such, vulnerable bodies such as women and children are safer because they do not have to share a latrine with about 20 other families, which was the common occurrence.
Foote hopes for the service to reach 1 million people by 2020. The service is partnering with other companies to broaden influence. Sanivation has partnered with the Naivasha Water Sewerage and Sanitation Company to build a factory that can process 100 tons of waste into 100 tons of charcoal per month. Sanivation is also targeting government. Governmental lack of investment in sewerage is damaging the country, where only 15 percent of Kenya is connected to sewerage mains. Furthermore, with mass population growth, this number will only get worse. “The more we can convince governments they should be prioritising sanitation in their budgets,” Foote says, “the more likely it is we’ll see services going to the people that need them.”
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