BLOGGING FROM THE FIELD
July 5, 2011
Public Service Fellow Benji Moncivaiz ’11 is working in Nairobi with the Sanergy team, contributing to redesigning the sanitation center and co-directing the Nairobi fabrication and construction teams.
Sanergy has now been firmly grasped by Nairobi and I am here to experience some of what it takes to create a start-up, sustainable, productive, impacting, poverty-alleviating, job-creating sanitation infrastructure in the slums! Ultimately, my role here is to build capacity. To create the jobs in manufacturing, assembling, and operating these centers, however, one needs a good product. I will be helping to create an improved sanitation center for Sanergy to build in the next cycle of construction. Then I will connect this inanimate sanitation center to motivated individuals so that the centers might serve their purpose in improving community health and income. The centers are not built 100% correctly the first time and they most certainly do not build themselves, so the first part of the summer I am helping coordinate (and do!) the prototyping of the new design while the second part of the summer I will be connecting the manufacturing processes to people here by creating and running the fabrication and assembly training sessions. I will be training local men and women through financial and managerial workshops.
Now that you know all the background, I’ll introduce some toilets we are aiming to improve upon:
These and others are built in a block. Smelly and unavailable for those without the key, these compounds don’t provide a pleasant or easy place for people to go. The size and price of these toilets make them even harder to penetrate the slums. I stuck my head just before one of the rooms open doors to be (unsurprisingly) hit with a heavy, yet pungent smell that easily beats my nephew’s diaper 5 to 1. We went and visited the Sanergy toilet and went in. This time, no smell!
Benji is aiming to build up the sanitation infrastructure in the slums surrounding Nairobi. He is working with Sanergy in its efforts to build an affordable, accessible, and clean toilet. You can find out more at saner.gy and follow Sanergy on Twitter at @sanergy and Benji at @benmonci.