Toilets for Kenya2.5 billion people lack access to a hygienic toilet. The toilets that they do have often dump human waste into water sources or leave it exposed to the air. Leaving human waste in water or out in the open can cause diarrheal diseases that can kill many people, mainly affecting children under the age of five. Sanergy, the creator of Fresh Life Toilets, hopes to provide toilets for Kenya and alleviate the unhygienic conditions in slums.

These low-cost and high-quality sanitation toilets prevent people in Kenyan slums from using pit latrines or what is known as “flying toilets”, which are non-decomposing plastic bags. What Sanergy offers are not only toilets for Kenya and its communities, but a proper way to dispose of the waste as well.

Sanergy and those in the areas that work with them collect the waste on a daily basis. After they have replaced the waste cartridges, they take the waste to a treatment plant to convert it to fertilizer or a protein for animal feed. These treated products are then sold at a lower price than the competing alternatives offered in Kenya. Essentially, Sanergy is turning human waste into money.

Most of the operations involved with the Fresh Life Toilets are run by local business people. Sanergy is not only creating a more sanitary environment by providing toilets for Kenya, they are also providing jobs. Over 90 percent of Sanergy’s employees are Kenyan and 60 percent of them live in the communities in which they serve.

Currently, 1134 Fresh Life Toilets are active. In 2017, 2467 metric tons of human waste were safely transferred and made into fertilizer. Because of these toilets, over 900 jobs have been provided to Kenyan people.

Fresh Life Toilets not only provide toilets in Kenya, but also a reliable income for the families that own them, created by a small fee that is comparable to the cost of non-hygienic alternatives. By doing this, individuals in the community get both a source of profit and an increase in sanitation, benefiting both the Kenyan people and their economy.

An example of the change a Fresh Life Toilet can make is exemplified by Fresh Life Toilet owner Agnes Kwamboka, who used to sell an illegal alcoholic beverage called “chang’aa” in order to provide for her family. Being an owner of a Fresh Life Toilet has changed that. Now, she is able to make a profit, help the local economy and contribute to a cleaner environment in a safe and legal way.

The Fresh Life Toilets provide Kenyans with a hygienic way to use the bathroom. With the Fresh Life Toilets, they no longer have to use the undignified flying toilets and their communities are much cleaner. Sanergy is able to provide the communities with disease prevention and sources of income with one solution, giving them the opportunity to grow.

Daniel Borjas

Photo: Flickr


For those living in developed countries, having access to private toilets is taken for granted. Having access to something as simple as private toilets changes lives drastically but about 2.3 billion people or a third of the world does not have access to them. This puts their health, education and safety at risk, as reported by The Huffington Post.

According to The Indian Express, approximately 60 percent of people in India do not have access to safe toilets. The people most affected by this are women and girls. They have no other choice but to relieve themselves outdoors. This puts them at a higher risk of getting assaulted or contracting diseases due to a lack of sanitation.

If private toilets exist in a community or neighborhood, they tend to be far and few between. More often than not, many schools in developing regions do not have sanitary facilities. When girls attending school don’t have access to sanitation, they have no privacy to deal with their needs and end up having to miss class when menstruating. This will often discourage girls from going to school at all, to avoid embarrassment and falling behind in school.

However, even if there is access to clean water and a private bathroom, many will continue to use the outdoors. According to The Guardian, particularly in India, many men still prefer to go outside to defecate, even if they have already installed a toilet at home. It gives them a moment of quiet as they survey their farmlands.

The results of using the outdoors as a toilet are negative. The practice continues to pollute already scarce water sources and to spread diseases such as cholera, tuberculosis, and diarrhea. Other health risks include malnutrition and childhood stunting, which impairs 161 million children every year, according to a report by the World Health Organization and UNICEF.

A study released by WaterAid states that nearly 40 percent of India’s children are stunted. Stunting can affect not only their lives but the country’s prosperity in the future. Also, diarrheal diseases kill 700,000 every year.

Despite various governments’ pledges to install toilets in every home, little has been done to improve education about the damages that unsanitary practices cause.

Prime Minister Modi of India has made the issue of sanitation a top priority. In 2014 Modi launched the Swachh Bharat Mission, which translates to Clean India. This project aims to ensure a toilet in every home by 2019 and to teach people about the long-term consequences of using proper sanitation. In order to provide everyone with access to toilets, India would have to build 100 million.

March 22 was United Nations World Toilet Day. There is the hope that the day will increase awareness and educate about the importance of access to toilets.

Michelle Simon

Photo:  Flickr

Today, cities in Africa are rapidly urbanizing. The population is growing faster than infrastructure is being built, which causes a shortage of sewage and sanitation systems, especially in impoverished areas.

Over 2.6 billion people do not have access to sanitation. Every day, thousands of tons of feces are not disposed of properly, polluting water and spreading diseases among women and children.

Every year, 1.8 million people die from waterborne diarrheal diseases. Ninety percent of these deaths are children under five-years-old.

Clean Team Ghana has made it their mission to fix this sanitation crisis. The company has invented an inexpensive toilet service to help low-income citizens.

“People of all ages, regardless of circumstance, deserve the right to perform their necessary bodily functions in safety, without the risk of spreading or contracting disease. Our mission is to ensure as many people as possible can enjoy that right,” explains the company’s website.

Kumasi, where Clean Team Ghana has focused its efforts, is Ghana’s second-largest city; here, rapid urbanization and development issues are rampant. Unplanned slum areas do not have any type of sewer system. Half of the population of Kumasi uses public toilet blocks.

According to How We Made it in Africa, public toilet blocks are “often over-burdened, poorly maintained and unhygienic. Those that cannot brave the stench would prefer to do their business openly–or in packets that are then thrown into gutters, polluting water supplies and causing diseases such as cholera.”

Families without proper sewage can rent out Clean Team Ghana’s portable toilets, which the company installs and treats three times per week, exchanging the used canister for a fresh one. The dirty canister is treated at a processing site and reused.

One toilet provides service to five to seven people, and only costs $2.50 to install. The service costs a family $8.90 a month for one toilet. Clean Team Ghana offers weekly payment services, as very few customers earn monthly salaries.

“Most of our customers are traders and earn daily sums of money, maybe even weekly sums. So we have account managers who visit these customers at least once a week so they can pay in bits,” said Clean Team Ghana CEO Abigail Aruna.

The toilets are odorless: the company uses chemicals to mask the smell. They do not require water or pipes, only some space.

So far, Clean Team Ghana has installed over 1,000 toilets across Kumasi. The company aims to install 1,500 more by the end of 2015. Clean Team Ghana markets their toilets by going door-to-door in settlements and explaining how the toilet works.

Aruna believes that in the next few years, Clean Team Ghana can install 10,000 toilets in Kumasi. Once they reach 10,000, the company plans to expand to other cities in Ghana.

“Research is ongoing around that. There are regional differences and we will take them into consideration before we expand. The situation in Kumasi is quite different from the situation in Accra or in Tamale, or in other towns,” explained Aruna.

Clean Team Ghana began when the nonprofit Water and Sanitation for the Urban Poor partnered with Unilever, a company that produces cleaning agents. designed the toilets, and at the beginning of 2012, the project was funded by the Stone Family Foundation and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

“Innovative ideas like ours are really necessary in Ghana and other African countries that cannot afford to put adequate sewage systems in place in their towns and cities. So I think the future of Clean Team Ghana and other sanitation companies is very bright–and is a way forward to solve the sanitation issues in Africa for now,” said Aruna.

Margaret Anderson

Sources: How we made it in Africa, Clean Team Toilets
Photo: Core 77

One of the key things that contribute to the struggle for health equity, social and economic justice is outdoor defecation. Humanure Power has a goal of ending the struggle by building community toilets around India’s most unsanitary places. The impact that the defecation has on poverty is extreme. By allowing the area to be unsanitary, it leads to many people being infected with diseases and kills about 450,000 people a year.

Humanure Power got the most votes from the citizens and won the $100,000 prize from Waislitz Global Citizen Award on October 1. Waislitz Global Citizen Award is given to those that are making a change where there is a dire need and is granted to organizations that are moving forward in ending world issues such as poverty.

On site where Humanure Power has set up the community toilets, the waste goes into an underground concrete tank. The waste is then decomposed to form methane gas. Humanure Power then uses the gas as an energy source that runs a generator, which produces electricity. The electricity is then used to power a water filtration system so that the communities can have continuous clean water.

Humanure Power launched its pilot facility on July 10 in a Northeastern state called Bihar, one of the poorest states in India, with 80 million people without toilets defecating outside every day. Co-Founder Anoop Jain first raised $30,000 to build a soup kitchen for the community. Then he shifted his focus to sanitation. When he traveled to Bihar, he realized that so many people were going without toilets, something we see are a right in the United States, not a privilege.

Jain made it his mission then to start an organization that would give toilets to those going without. After putting together a team of people, the organization raised over $120,000 since 2012 and now with the Waislitz Global Citizenship award, the team can move forward in building more of these resourceful facilities throughout India.

Brooke Smith

Sources: Humanure Power, Global Citizen
Photo: Flickr 

Sadly, 40% of the world’s population lack access to basic latrines.

The lack of sanitation is a major world public health issue. Water contaminated by sewage can propagate lethal epidemic diseases such as cholera which develops in fecal secretions. Today, 2.6 billion people lack access to basic sanitation facilities.

Without toilets, people must resort to relieving themselves in plastic bags, which they throw as far away from their home as they can; a phenomenon known as “flying toilets.” In some areas, flying toilets have become a a public health concern.

In slums especially the scarcity of toilets has become particularly worrisome. Dozens of people share the same toilet, and the poor maintenance and virtually nonexistent hygiene of these places makes people more than reluctant to go. Landlords are also not willing to build more facilities, preferring instead to build more houses and rooms that they can rent to earn an income.

Women and children are the most vulnerable to the lack of hygiene. According to Peepoople, “one child dies every 15 seconds due to contaminated water from human excreta.” Just as bad, the lack of privacy makes women prey to rape and sexual harassment, especially at night when they have to look for sanitation facilities. When adolescent girls have their period, they have to stay home from school because they cannot take care of their hygiene.

Peepoople, an organization aimed at providing millions of people with sanitation facilities in the respect of their dignity, has implemented an innovative solution to curb one of the world’s most serious problems. It has created the PeePoo.

The PeePoo is a bag that “contains five grams of urea, which breaks down waste into ammonia and carbonate,” thereby transforming potentially harmful waste into harmless fertilizer. Biodegradable and designed for the world’s poorest, PeePoo bags only cost $0.03 each.

In the Nairobi slums where Peepoople operates, an incredible micro-economy has emerged after the introduction of the PeePoo bags. For instance, the bags can be used as garden fertilizer, thereby fostering local agriculture and plantation, but they can also be returned to a collection point for a reimbursement of $0.01 per bag.

Seizing the opportunity, some have even made a living off the reimbursement fee. For instance, Mama Lucy, mother of three, told Al Jazeera, “I didn’t have a regular job before the Peepoos were introduced, but I saw an opportunity when people did not want to drop off the bags themselves. Now I do two rounds a day to pick Peepoos from people’s houses. On a good week I earn about a thousand shillings ($11).” Since the introduction of the PeePoo, the number of sexual crimes has also decreased in the Silanga village, according to Mika Mitoko, project manager at Peepoople.

Involving no investment or infrastructure, the PeePoo has proved that easy and cheap solutions can save millions of lives. To learn more about Peepoople, visit their website at:

Lauren Yeh

Sources: Peepoople, Al Jazeera

"Who Gives A Crap": A New Company Helping Sanitation Globally

 For 40 percent of the world, there is no need to stop and imagine what it is like without access to personal sanitary systems. There is a significant lack of running water and proper sewer systems, which leads to the spreading of diseases from fecal matter and other contamination. In an effort to combat this issue, Australian entrepreneur Simon Griffiths took the logical approach and went straight to the paper, literally.

Who Gives A Crap was started on a fundamentally different notion that charities and donations should not be an extra burden or request on consumers and the public. Instead, work with the purchases people already make and funnel those funds towards the cause.  “I realized we couldn’t simply ask people to give 15 times more, or have 15 times as many people on the street stopping people and asking them to support a cause,” Griffiths says. “We had to completely change the way that we funded social impact.”

Enter toilet paper, one of the most used necessities in the developed world. Through Who Gives A Crap, half the profits from the sale of its toilet papers go towards building toilets and improving sanitation systems around the world. In partnership with WaterAid, both organizations are also spending time in rural areas in developing countries helping people not only learn about the importance of hygiene and public facility maintenance. They are also helping communities use the available resources to build sustainable toilets.

The business model Griffiths has used for his company is similar to the one Ethos Water along with other companies use. It is a recognition that fundraising, donations, and charitable giving should not add to an individual’s finances but simply be a part of it. This way, not only will people be more willing to buy a brand whose proceeds go towards charity but organizations will not have to strain themselves trying to sell an unnecessary gift or perk to unenthusiastic donors.

– Deena Dulgerian

Source: Co.EXIST

160 Toilets for the Kavango Region of Namibia
The Kavango Regional Council (KRC) has placed aside N$5.4 million to build 160 toilets for rural residents. Overseeing the northeastern region of Namibia, the Council has made a commitment to help sustain and improve the region by better utilizing the resources located within it. As well, the Council works to improve the conditions of residents so that they can optimally contribute to the region.

By constructing 160 toilets and improving sanitation in most of the constituencies in the region, the Kavango Regional Council hopes to improve health conditions and combat disease. As of now, more than half of the residents located in the densely populated Kavango region do not have proper access to toilet facilities. Constructing communal toilets, at a cost of approximately N$33,800 each, will provide the necessary access and adequate sanitation. The toilets will also have positive effects on the environment, allowing for more use of land.

Another positive of the decision to build 160 toilets is the job opportunities that it provides. The toilets have to be built and put in place and the KRC is committed to ensuring that a great number of individuals have the opportunity to work and make some income from their investment. The job of constructing the toilets has been given to 40 contractors, 5 for each constituency. Chief Regional Officer of the KRC Sebastian Kantema said that “Although this is little, we really commend the government for availing these funds so that we can alleviate the suffering of our people.”

The government will be monitoring the progress of all the contractors to ensure that the money is spent wisely and that the jobs are completed in an orderly fashion. This is just one of many steps that the Kavango Regional Council is taking to improve the lives of its people in Namibia. It is also taking steps to construct more health facilities closer to villages located in very rural areas, as well as improving water provisions to ensure everyone has access to clean, drinkable water.

– Angela Hooks
Source: AllAfrica

Matt Damon Toilet Strike

Dear Toilet,

It’s not you. It’s us.


Matt Damon

Matt Damon broke up with his toilet…well at least until everyone has access to clean water and sanitation. The Oscar-winning actor and co-founder of announced his toilet strike in a comedic video.

The video is a staged press conference with prominent comedians. It highlights society’s ignorance of the world water crisis and the underappreciation of toilets. 780 million people lack access to clean water.

Damon mentions how the toilet has saved more lives than any other invention, yet 2.5 billion people lack access to toilets or basic sanitation.  More people own cell phones than toilets. The “Matt Damon Toilet Strike” is designed to be less about him and more about people who lack the luxury of clean sanitation.

U.N. Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson released a statement that the world water crisis is something people “don’t like to talk about.” The United Nations aims to double the number of people with toilets by 2015.

The organization’s long-term plan is to “eliminate the practice of open defecation” by 2025.  This practice makes unsanitary water the number one killer of people worldwide.  In fact, children under the age of five are most likely to die from diarrhea-related diseases. traded the traditional public service announcement model in hopes of creating a viral frenzy.

“If Sarah Silverman and I can generate millions of views on YouTube for something ridiculous, then we should be able to do better for one of the most important and solvable issues of our time,” Damon said.

The nonprofit has “been toying with [the idea of comedic videos] for a couple of years.”  Damon and the rest of believe viral videos can “generate new levels of awareness and participation in the cause.”

The announcement video is the first of 12 videos. The strike campaign’s other videos include: Damon breaking up with his toilet, other celebrities joining the strike, and John Elerick fighting to outdo Damon.  The video was filmed for free at YouTube’s L.A. studios as YouTube works to educate nonprofits about best practices for video campaigns.

Jessica Mason, YouTube spokeswoman, understands that views should not be the main concern for non-profits. “We want to help nonprofits raise awareness and turn that awareness into action.” will continue using social media to further awarness.  The website features extensive social media integration.  It asks visitors to “lend” their social media accounts and allow to publish automatically until World Toilet Day on November 9, 2013.

For more information, visit or tweet questions with #strikewithme.

Whitney M. Wyszynski

Source: Strike With Me

The Sanitary Importance of ToiletsHow is poverty fought? Well, there are many different approaches that are currently being tried and some may seem more self-explanatory than others. For example, there are micro-lending, education aid, anti-corruption efforts, and attempts to create jobs and industry. But what about sanitation? Specifically, what about the toilets?

Toilets, and the access to toilets and established sanitation standards, are actually a very, very important issue in much of the developing world. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimated in 2010 that 2.5 billion people worldwide didn’t have access to a toilet. The lack of toilets can lead to many serious sanitation problems; exposed fecal matter can lead to any number of a long list of diseases and can cause infection, lead to dysentery, and provided a breeding ground for many parasites.

More than reducing levels of infection and disease, however, the sanitary importance of toilets offers an increased sense of dignity. The people living without toilet access are not all living in rural areas. Many live in city slums and must go about their business without the luxury of privacy. The availability of toilets is even shown to increase the school attendance of teenage girls, who may not go to school during their menstrual cycle. The non-governmental organization Charity Water works to provide clean water and sanitation in the developing world. Increased access to toilets has been one of their goals for years. Check them out here!

– Kevin Sullivan

Source: Charity Water
Photo: The Guardian