The smart way to tackle poverty

In the field, Water, sanitation & hygiene article written on the 04 Jun 2015

Photo: Sam Tarling

In the Mukuru slum in Nairobi, Kenya, Oxfam is working with our partner Sanergy to supply schools with Fresh Life toilets — providing a clean and sanitary environment for kids to go to the toilet. It sounds straight forward, but this ingenious invention is keeping kids in school, creating jobs and saving lives.

In Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, almost two million people live in informal settlements or ‘slums’. Livelihoods and jobs are insecure and the water and sanitation facilities are completely inadequate.

Despite the obvious need, the government is failing to tackle the requirements of the growing slum populations. Throughout the Mukuru slum, rubbish and human waste cover the ground causing disease to spread easily throughout the settlement. Constant sickness threatens the lives of the residents and disrupts schooling and job opportunities for children and adults alike.

Where disease thrives, so too does poverty. That’s why investing in sanitation is absolutely critical.

But a lack of sanitation, especially the levels in Mukuru, is a huge, overwhelming problem. In a place where the average life expectancy is just 40 years old, how do you begin to affect long-term change?

With the arrival of the multifaceted Fresh Life toilet, that change became less hopeful — and more tangible. The low-tech solution has proven to be a healthy, safe and dignified experience combined with a sustainable business model at it’s core.

Watch the video to learn more about Fresh Life toilets.

Thanks to our generous supporters, Fresh Life toilets were installed directly into local schools in the Mukuru slum. Since the installation, teachers have reported the number of children attending school has increased by nearly 50%. Children are more alert in class and getting better grades too. But there’s more.

People living in Mukuru are able to purchase their own Fresh Life toilet and operate it as a business, turning over roughly $1000 a year in profit. Waste is collected from the toilets on a daily basis and taken to Sanergy’s processing plant. Sanergy employs people to work at the plant — turning waste into fertiliser. This fertiliser is then sold to farmers in and around Nairobi to grow crops.

The Fresh Life toilet is creating much needed jobs for the local community — providing essential income for food, shelter and school fees. In short, this toilet is turning poo into money.

We think you’ll agree when we say Fresh life toilets aren’t just a toilet. They’re an effective, powerful tool that changes people lives.

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