Consumer Insights on Sanitation ​– Upping the Usage of Fresh Life Toilets (update by Sanergy in Nairobi, Kenya)
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Consumer Insights on Sanitation ​​​​– Upping the Usage of Fresh Life Toilets (update by Sanergy in Nairobi, Kenya) 16 May 2014 15:01 #8635

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Dear all,

Many of you have heard of Sanergy, the impressive social business venture serving an ever-growing number of people in low-income areas in Nairobi, Kenya (also present here on the forum: forum.susana.org/forum/categories/52-mob...ry-loo-user-and-kiva).

Whilst they are not yet a grantee of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, they are an important partner for the BMGF because quite a few of the other grantees are using Sanergy as a full-size testing ground (or "real life lab") for their R&D work. One example is The Climate Foundation with their pyrolysis reactor, see here:
forum.susana.org/forum/categories/98-res...-usa-and-kenya#8628.

For that reason, Sanergy was also invited to exhibit at the Reinvent the Toilet Fair in Delhi, India, in March 2014.

Here you can find some photos that I took from their exhibit:
www.flickr.com/photos/gtzecosan/sets/72157644699243384/

I had the pleasure of interviewing one of Sanergy's co-founders, David Auerbach. The focus of our conversation was their newly designed urine-diverting squatting plate - which simply looks awesome, see for yourself here in the photos and two videos:

Fresh Life urine-diverting squat plate by Sustainable sanitation, on Flickr

Urine-diverting and splash-reducing squat plate by Sustainable sanitation, on Flickr

See the interview with David Auerbach here (focussing on the new squat plate that they exhibited):



The second part of the interview, which describes the Sanergy approach and business model, as well as their collaborations with other grantees is available here:



The improved squatting plate has the following benefits:
  • Less splashing due to a "fin" which is also used in urinals, and due to a deeper urinal section.
  • Urine hole and faeces hole are closer together on a horizontal level, so that less horizontal shifting of the user is needed when they are doing both, one after the other (i.e. urination and defecation).

One disadvantage is that due to the production process (heat moulding if I remember correctly), the squatting plate now has to consist of two parts (because the urine section is so deep), which means they are joined, and that joint could be a weak spot in terms of urine stone deposits and clearning issues (my personal guess).

You can barely see that joint on this photo, almost at the very base of the deep urinal section:

Fresh Life urine-diverting squat plate by Sustainable sanitation, on Flickr

Questions and comments are welcome, I am sure that David or one of his team members will be happy to answer them here on the forum.

Kind regards,
Elisabeth

+++++++++++++++++++++++++

Some further information about Sanergy's current work:

Some more information from a recent blog post of Sanergy:

A Fresh New Look for the Fresh Life Toilet
saner.gy/archives/4592

An excerpt of their recent blog post:

Through a partnership with MCAD Technologies and Dassault Systèmes SolidWorks Corporation, a computer-aided design software company, Mike was able to bring the new Fresh Life Toilet to life through 3D modeling, structural simulation of parts, as well as renderings and manufacturing drawings to communicate designs with vendors and field experts.

During initial user testing it was very clear that women were subjected to splash-back when they used the toilet. The new urine-diverting squat plate has a unique form with a deep urine bowl and a splash-eliminating ‘fin’. The squat plate is made from a hard and glossy plastic that is easy to clean and lasts longer than previous squat plate designs.


From the Technical Guides of the Fair
(www.susana.org/lang-en/library?view=ccbk...p;type=2&id=2001):

Here you see Sanergy's cooperations with other grantees:

sanergy.jpg


Key information:

sanergy2.jpg


Fresh Life Toilet

In African slums, Fresh Life makes hygienic sanitation
accessible and affordable for everyone, forever. We
franchise a dense sanitation network of clean toilets,
collect the waste, and convert it into valuable byproducts.
As of January 2014, 12,000 residents in
Nairobi’s slums are using Fresh Life Toilets every day
with a projected 200,000 in 5 years. Sanergy’s franchising
creates financial opportunity while solving a critical
social and environmental challenge.

Toilet Design

The Fresh Life Toilet is based on a continuous customer
feedback loop and related user research suggests that
a clean, comfortable and friendly sanitation experience
dramatically increases uptake. The Fresh Life Toilet
delivers an enjoyable experience by leveraging features
such as an easily cleaned tile floor and an ergonomic
splash reducing squat plate for women, men, and
children. A durable concrete modular construction,
coupled with powerful community-driven branding –
in partnership with Wash United - makes Fresh Life
preferred sanitation option for all slum residents.
Dr. Elisabeth von Muench
Independent consultant
Community manager of this forum via SEI
(see: www.susana.org/en/resources/projects?search=SEI)
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Last Edit: 16 May 2014 15:09 by muench.
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Re: Fresh Life Toilet in Kenyan slums - improved urine-diverting squatting plate (Sanergy in Nairobi, Kenya) 19 May 2014 10:22 #8655

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Hi Elisabeth et al,

Thanks for the thoughtful piece on our new Fresh Life Toilet design. We appreciate the spotlight as well as the analysis of our work.

One point that we would like to clarify in response to the comment, "One disadvantage is that due to the production process (heat moulding if I remember correctly), the squatting plate now has to consist of two parts (because the urine section is so deep), which means they are joined, and that joint could be a weak spot in terms of urine stone deposits and clearning issues (my personal guess)."

While there are two parts to the squatting plate, the joint which connects the two parts is a shingle joint, which easily allows for liquid to flow over both parts.

However, as we have only in the last 6 weeks put the new design into circulation, it is still too early to tell about the exact wear and tear that the design will take.

Regards,
David Auerbach
Sanergy is a social enterprise that is building healthy and prosperous communities through provision of hygienic, affordable and accessible sanitation in urban slums for everyone, forever - starting with Nairobi, Kenya.

For more information on Sanergy visit:

Our website: saner.gy/
Like our Facebook page: www.facebook.com/Sanergy
Follow us on Twitter: twitter.com/Sanergy
Last Edit: 19 May 2014 13:21 by Sanergy.

Re: Fresh Life Toilet in Kenyan slums - improved urine-diverting squatting plate (Sanergy in Nairobi, Kenya) 20 May 2014 11:25 #8675

  • elizabethtilley
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Thanks so much for putting this together Elisabeth- I have been following Sanergy for a while, but it was nice to see all the photos and videos together in once place.

I've been doing some modelling for my own research about how a urine collection and transport system can be sustainable and regardless of the scenarios (that I run) I find very few ways in which the income exceeds the costs (especially considering increasing labour and fuel prices). (A brief summary is available on the VUNA website: www.vuna.ch)

I would be so grateful to find out more about the breakdown of your (Sanergy) costs (labour, transport, manufacturing) and how you cover those, in terms of franchise fees, nutrient sales, etc. If you're not operating at a cost-recovering point yet, but see that as the goal, how long do you think it will take to get there (measured in terms of toilets or nutrient volume, etc.)?

Many thanks!

Elizabeth
Elizabeth Tilley
PhD Candidate, Development Economics
Centre for Development and Cooperation (NADEL)
ETH Zurich
Switzerland
Last Edit: 11 Jul 2014 09:58 by muench. Reason: typo correction
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Re: Fresh Life Toilet in Kenyan slums - improved urine-diverting squatting plate (Sanergy in Nairobi, Kenya) 28 May 2014 09:59 #8755

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Hi Liz,

Thanks for your email. We're in good touch with your team at EAWAG and would very much like to continue the conversation offline with you.

Thanks!

David
Sanergy is a social enterprise that is building healthy and prosperous communities through provision of hygienic, affordable and accessible sanitation in urban slums for everyone, forever - starting with Nairobi, Kenya.

For more information on Sanergy visit:

Our website: saner.gy/
Like our Facebook page: www.facebook.com/Sanergy
Follow us on Twitter: twitter.com/Sanergy

Re: Fresh Life Toilet in Kenyan slums - improved urine-diverting squatting plate (Sanergy in Nairobi, Kenya) 04 Jun 2014 09:10 #8863

  • elizabethtilley
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Thanks David,

I can totally understand: I've written to you directly and look forward to learning about whatever results you are able to share at this time.

Best,

Elizabeth
Elizabeth Tilley
PhD Candidate, Development Economics
Centre for Development and Cooperation (NADEL)
ETH Zurich
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Re: Fresh Life Toilet in Kenyan slums - improved urine-diverting squatting plate (Sanergy in Nairobi, Kenya) 11 Jul 2014 09:57 #9312

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Dear Elizabeth,

You raised some very pertinent questions in you post on 20 May 2014. From the answer by David I draw my own conclusion that there is no full cost-recovery with the Sanergy model in Kenya yet. It is on the one hand a bit disappointing but on the other hand not surprising, i.e. why should they be the only one worldwide who have found a way to make sanitation provision for the urban poor be able to support itself, solely based on fees, and without any government subsidies (or, in their case, external donor support or some other form of long-term investment)? I think it is simply not possible and need not necessarily be our aim either, as we are talking here about a public good - sanitation, public health (just like education).

You wrote:
I've been doing some modelling for my own research about how a urine collection and transport system can be sustainable and regardless of the scenarios (that I run) I find very few ways in which the income exceeds the costs (especially considering increasing labour and fuel prices).


What are actually these "very few ways"? I asume things like the scenario that fertiliser (phosphorus) prices go up a lot compared to now? That's actually the only one I can think of right now.

(Related thread to this is the VUNA project thread:
forum.susana.org/forum/categories/98-res...12&start=12#7350)

Oh and there was also a post by Kris on Smart Sanitation Subsidies which nobody has picked up on yet:
forum.susana.org/forum/categories/142-up...ation-subsidies#9033

Kind regards,
Elisabeth
Dr. Elisabeth von Muench
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Re: Fresh Life Toilet in Kenyan slums - improved urine-diverting squatting plate (Sanergy in Nairobi, Kenya) 14 Jul 2014 11:48 #9341

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Dear Elisabeth, dear all,

with regard to the increase in prices for "P", a look onto charts for the last decades and price development does not show an abnormal increase in these prices; rather, speculation spin-offs might play a bit, as with other raw materials.

www.indexmundi.com/de/rohstoffpreise/?wa...sphat&monate=240

unveils a bit of reality as opposed to hopes one might have for alternative sources for phosphate. The chart linked-in above displays prices for Moroccan raw material. A geologist's point of view: Morocco is leading exporter for phosphate, but not the only one. Significant resources can be found, e.g., in Spain and some other (north) African countries.

We should remain realistic with expectations, please. Collecting, transporting, processing and using urine in agriculture will, for the foreseeable future, remain dependent on low wages and low income in remote areas in -for the processing purpose- climatically appropriate regions.

Best regards,

Jürgen
Facts are stubborn things, but statistics are more pliable. (Samuel Langhorne Clemens)

Truth is what stands the test of experience. (A. Einstein)

Re: Fresh Life Toilet in Kenyan slums - improved urine-diverting squatting plate (Sanergy in Nairobi, Kenya) 14 Jul 2014 12:53 #9343

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Good question!

I should have been more clear in saying that I am NOT trying to offset the costs with any sort of recovered value, but am rather looking into ways in which the costs are feasible, fair, and acceptable to all members of the system.

It wasn't correct of me to say "very few ways" because actually, in my particular context, there are "no ways". More correct would have been to say that I have not found any ways to make the system cost neutral, and very few ways to optimize the payments between the customers and providers, such that we can maximize use and minimize operating costs.

I will definitely keep you posted once my results are ready to share!

Elizabeth
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Consumer Insights on Sanitation ​– Upping the Usage of Fresh Life Toilets (update by Sanergy) 29 Jan 2015 15:17 #11808

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Consumer Insights on Sanitation ​– Upping the Usage of Fresh Life Toilets

Hi everyone!

We wanted to share our insights on what we are keen to try out in 2015 to influence the uptake of hygienic sanitation in the communities that we work in.

At Sanergy, we provide hygienic, accessible and affordable sanitation in the informal settlements of Nairobi, Kenya. Currently, our network of 620 toilets branded as Fresh Life, are generating over 26,000 uses every single day. We are the largest provider of hygienic sanitation in the areas that we serve.

We always want to raise the bar and serve more community members at each of our toilet locations. Designing and delivering improved sanitation is key, but not enough. We want to take a step further and ensure we provide effective interventions that change human behavior. How do we drastically reduce the number of individuals using unsanitary facilities or practicing open defecation?

In the last six months of 2014, we worked closely with Populist and GRID Impact, research and design firms, to help us understand behaviour change and a deeper grasp of our target audience. The team undertook extensive human-centered design research and identified several key consumer insights that we are keen to explore in our operations.

Fresh Life usage is a very addictive behaviour; once someone has a positive first experience, they will almost definitely become consistent customers. The challenge, then, is inspiring that first usage. We need to explicitly connect the brand to specific, tangible benefits that distinguish it from other options – especially at the moment of choice when someone needs to use the toilet – and motivate people to break their current habits in order to try Fresh Life.

click here

Another insight: the toilet does not speak for itself. That is to say, even though there is widespread brand recognition, non-users have their own perceptions of what it’s like inside or who the target customer is. For example, some think children are our main target because we have a growing presence in schools. While many can recall seeing the blue toilet or ‘Fresh Life’ logo, there is not an easily recalled understanding of what happens inside. Potential users are not armed with a concrete expected experience, and are therefore less likely to find Fresh Life a resonant choice. So how do we change preconceived notions among our potential customers to generate more demand?

A final insight: finally, we need to work with our FLOs to show them that actively recruiting new customers is just as critical as providing high quality service to their existing customers, and that shifting their focus just a bit will help their business grow. We need to come up with better, easier ways for our FLOs to feel comfortable as they promote their services.

We are excited to incorporate some of these insights in our work with the community in 2015. Watch this space for regular updates as we seek to provide hygienic, affordable and accessible sanitation for everyone forever. We would love to hear from you. Let us know what you think!
Sanergy is a social enterprise that is building healthy and prosperous communities through provision of hygienic, affordable and accessible sanitation in urban slums for everyone, forever - starting with Nairobi, Kenya.

For more information on Sanergy visit:

Our website: saner.gy/
Like our Facebook page: www.facebook.com/Sanergy
Follow us on Twitter: twitter.com/Sanergy
Last Edit: 29 Jan 2015 16:00 by muench.
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Re: Consumer Insights on Sanitation ​– Upping the Usage of Fresh Life Toilets (update by Sanergy) 02 Feb 2015 13:11 #11852

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Thanks, Edith for this update from Sanergy in Kenya.
I think it is fair to say that many of us are following your progress with great interest, holding thumbs that all will continue to go smoothly and being deeply impressed by your commitment and enthousiasm for the cause!

I was fortunate to hear Laura Kimani from Sanergy present about the resource recovery aspects from Sanergy's work at the recent FSM3 Conference in Hanoi.
David Auerbach has sent me her presentations for sharing. Please find them attached below.
It is mainly photos only, so if you have questions for Laura or David, please put them here.

For the second presentation that I have attached below (overview of Sanergy's process), I think we will get also the video of Laura's presentation. For the first presentation (resource recovery) there is no video as it was presented at a smaller workshop.

Some of my notes from the workshop*:
  1. They have recently begun to sell their fertiliser "Evergrow Organic Fertiliser" for 500 USD/ton which is a high price but people are willing to pay it. She said the fertiliser is very popular, it is adding organic matter to the soil which is important for the Kenyan soils, at least in that area.
  2. I think it is important to keep in mind that unlike fertilisers made from faecal sludge this fetiliser is also so much purer as the incoming ingredients are only faeces, saw dust, toilet paper and some urine (I am not sure if all the urine is added to the compost heaps?). But no garbage, no heavy metals from small-scale industries, no chemicals being dumped in the toilets etc. These toilets are well looked after semi-public toilets with an attendant who makes sure that they are used properly.I say "semi" to distinguish them from large public toilet blocks which are used in an anonymous fashion. These ones are only 1-2 toilet cubicles in one location.
  3. The black soldier fly work that you can see in the pictures is still experimental only.
  4. Pathogen kill is achieved by the high temperatures achieved in the composter, and is being closely monitored (I cannot remember exactly what she said about helminth analysis, only that it was difficult to find a lab to do it, so I think they either test it themselves now or send samples to South Africa for testing; and I think each batch is being tested (I can hear Joe asking this question already; you have sensitised me well to this question, Joe ).

My questions for Laura that I didn't get to ask at the workshop but that I can ask now:
  1. Would you also consider vermi-composting in future? If not, why not?
  2. You mentioned measuring E.coli. Is there really much point in testing that? What does that tell you? Not much, I don't think.
  3. Could you clarify my uncertainty about who is measuring helminths for you? I think ideally you should have your own equipment on-site for measuring it.
  4. Why the big effort in cleaning the faeces bins at your site and for having plastic bags in the bins which add to solid waste? Do the bins really have to be spotless when they are returned to the toilets?
  5. What happens with the washing water that comes from washing the faeces bins?
  6. How diligently do the workers user their PPE (personal protective equipment)? I can imagine it must get quite hot in those suits, boots and gloves. Is it tempting for them to take it off when there are no photos being taken? How about those masks, how often do they need to be replaced? Do they get tested for efficiency? I.e. perhaps the workers are wearing masks but they are already contaminated?

By the way, Sanergy is now also getting some funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation - congratulations!

Kind regards,
Elisabeth

* SOIL Hait, ACF Mongolia, IWMI, Vermi-composting New Zealand and others presented as well in this workshop and I hope to be able to make their presentations available on the forum as well.
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Dr. Elisabeth von Muench
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Last Edit: 02 Feb 2015 13:41 by muench.

Re: Consumer Insights on Sanitation ​– Upping the Usage of Fresh Life Toilets (update by Sanergy) 02 Feb 2015 13:48 #11853

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And let me add a couple of images from the two presentations to illustrate the points that I raised above:

Current toilet model being used by Sanergy, showing the faeces bin:

Sanergy1.jpg


Cleaning of the faeces bins at the new processing site, a bit outside of Nairobi:

Sanergy2.jpg


Thermophilic composting:

Sanergy3.jpg


The compost as it is being sold:

Sanergy4.jpg


In-vessel composting; this photo looks interesting but I can't remember what Laura told us about this? Is this a trial? Where is this machine from?
Sanergy5.jpg
Dr. Elisabeth von Muench
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Re: Consumer Insights on Sanitation ​– Upping the Usage of Fresh Life Toilets (update by Sanergy) 12 Feb 2015 09:55 #12019

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Hi Elisabeth,

These are great questions! They certainly make for an enriching conversation about our work. I am posting on behalf of my teammate Laura Kimani (Research and Development) who gladly provided the answers to your questions.

Q - Would you also consider vermi-composting in future? If not, why not?

A - We are always open to new treatment technologies and learning from other successful large scale composting operations like the one presented by Michael Quintern of MyNOKE. However, we may not look into vermi-composting in the near future because of the following reasons:

1. Design and process changes
Vermi-composting would require that we change our system to ensure that compost is kept according to the required depth, to ideal temperature and moisture content for worms to strive.

2. Time and space requirements
Vermi composting takes time and therefor increases space requirements. According to the information presented by Michael the processing time using worms is 12 month, which is significantly longer than our current processing time.

3. Lack of local expertise
We have built up local expertise in thermophilic co-composting in terms of safety operations and maintenance. We would have to build up this expertise for a vermi-composting system first to ensure a safe and high quality end product.

Q - You mentioned measuring E.coli. Is there really much point in testing that? What does that tell you? Not much, I don't think.
A - We are testing E.coli and Helminth eggs as indicator organisms and as stated in the WHO guidelines. Even so E.coli is easily eliminated it at least gives us an indication if there is pathogen elimination and if there is any risk of re-growth.

Q - Could you clarify my uncertainty about who is measuring helminths for you? I think ideally you should have your own equipment on-site for measuring it.
A - Yes, we built our own internal laboratory for routine analysis and quality testing. This includes E.coli, helminth analysis as well as basic compost quality analysis. We still undertake third party tests to confirm our findings.

Q - Why the big effort in cleaning the faeces bins at your site and for having plastic bags in the bins which add to solid waste? Do the bins really have to be spotless when they are returned to the toilets?
A - Yes, delivering a quality service to our customers is very important to us as part of the “Fresh Life experience”. This service includes providing smell free, clean and hygienically safe cartridges.

Q - What happens with the washing water that comes from washing the faeces bins?

A - The wash water is drained into a septic tank and disposed in a neighbouring treatment plant.


Q - How diligently do the workers user their PPE (personal protective equipment)? I can imagine it must get quite hot in those suits, boots and gloves. Is it tempting for them to take it off when there are no photos being taken? How about those masks, how often do they need to be replaced? Do they get tested for efficiency? I.e. perhaps the workers are wearing masks but they are already contaminated?
A - Surprisingly diligently, they always tell me they are used to the heat. Besides providing PPE it is really important to provide training on risks and mitigation methods. We realized that awareness of biological hazards is crucial to incentivise proper usage of PPE. Lastly the proper usage of PPE is considered in each team member’s performance rating which helps to enforce it, too.


We hope these answers help everyone understand our operations better!

Best,
Edith Karimi
Sanergy is a social enterprise that is building healthy and prosperous communities through provision of hygienic, affordable and accessible sanitation in urban slums for everyone, forever - starting with Nairobi, Kenya.

For more information on Sanergy visit:

Our website: saner.gy/
Like our Facebook page: www.facebook.com/Sanergy
Follow us on Twitter: twitter.com/Sanergy
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