Now the text service – comparable to the Uber taxi app – has a database of 65,000 customers who send an SMS whenever they need their pits emptied. The computer sends out a tender to all the pit emptiers in the vicinity, triggering a bidding war.
The “Uber-ification” of waste management has broken the back of the informal pit emptiers’ union that fixed high prices for an unenviable job not properly regulated by the government, says Mbeguere.
“In the first year of the service, the average cost of emptying pit latrines decreased from $150 to $90 a year. For someone earning less than $2 a day, that’s a big difference,” says Mbeguere, who says the target for the service is $60 per year.