Introducing x-runner mobile system (piloting in Lima, Peru)

  • Jessixr
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Introducing x-runner mobile system (piloting in Lima, Peru)

Hello everybody

I would like to share some material and information on our x-runner sanitation project in Lima. (Thanks Elisabeth for the encouragement). We are just working on some new documents/plans and I will share more as soon as possible. We are also working on a new design with integrated sawdust flush and I hope to share soon some pictures and receive some feedback from you!
Also we are very active on Facebook where you can find many more pictures and videos.

Here again a quick overview:
X-runner brings waterless toilets and a weekly poop collection service to families that do not have toilets.
The x-runner toilets have been created with the customers for the customers: We use the urine-diverting principle and use sawdust (which is widely available in Lima) as cover material.
X-runner’s customers subscribe for a monthly fee to the poop pick-up service that replaces the families’ full toilet waste buckets with clean ones. The full containers are then transported to the x-runner service hub where the buckets are emptied and the content is treated through composting. The used buckets are cleaned and disinfected for future service rounds. The water that we use for cleaning we then filter and re-use it to irrigate our compost and our plants.

Here is our Video from October 2012:


Here is our latest brochure

Our first and our current toilet models:

Jessica Altenburger | Lima | This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
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  • Jessixr
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Re: Introducing x-runner mobile system

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  • ben
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Re: Introducing x-runner mobile system

Dear all x-runner team,
Thank you very much for sharing news from this thrilling project. First of all, congratulation on this implementation, I bet you’re very excited about the gradual scaling up your project is taking, I wish you the best for all the oncoming upgrades your project will get.
I’ve been following your work from the beginning and I’d like to ask you a couple of questions.

1. Evolution of the design.

What made you do an evolution from your initial design, which was on paper amazing, with the rolling drum and people bringing it themselves to the treatment plant. Was it sociological or technical barriers that made you go toward a chair toilet rather than a stand version? Was it unrealistic to ask people to transport it to the treatment plant?
Did you communicate yet with WSUP to compare dry systems like yours (necessity of ventilation, necessity to clean more often?, price of saw dust, lighter to carry, etc … ) with the ghanasan WSUP design (liquid system more expensive, maybe more appealing, longer time between cleaning?, heavier to carry, etc …). I would be thrilled to hear from you what you estimate being the pros and cons of both systems.

2. Financial analysis.

I would be extremely interested to see the financial analysis of the Mosan and Ghanasan project, still not available. Would you share with us the financial set-up of your project, like what are your projections of Capex / Opex? For how many house the system starts to be viable? How much cost the service compared with the average household income? What is the price difference between this nice services compared with the cost of old habits (i.e. public toilets etc…)? Is compost a rare good in Lima and therefore can be saleable for a good price, what does it represent in your balance sheet? Can the compost sales at least cover the treatment price, or can it even pay a bit of transportation too? Did you think of collecting all the household organic wastes in order to increase your compost production?
I know this is always a bit complicated to communicate figures of an ongoing project, but so far I haven’t seen rough estimates of financial set ups for urban sanitation services.
Thanks a lot for what you shared already and I don’t want to push too far your generosity, it’s just that I’m very very curious to see if these systems can one day be stamped as “sustainable” being financially viable without constant subsidies inputs.

Good luck for you all,

Ben
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  • Jessixr
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Re: Introducing x-runner mobile system

Dear Ben
Thank you for your questions. I will try to answer as many of them as possible.

Evolution of the design.
Our initial design, the rollable-mix-it-all toilet was designed for squatting and for the Indian market. It was a great concept, but proofed then in testing that there were too many difficulties with it, such as right kind of material, emptying, cleaning, and smell.
It was clear, that when we changed geographies that we would have to start over again. And so we did. But in Lima we decided to involve the users much more in the development process (not only in design research) and that's why we also went through so many versions: Our customers come back to us and give us feedback on how they want things differently and how we can improve. We listen to them and try to implement the changes as good as possible. The toilet changed from squatting to sitting solely for cultural/habitual reasons.

About the transportation of the feces.
We actually started a new logistic system that we tested with 10 families and that has proven to be quite successful: We asked families to bring their buckets by themselves to collection points (you can read more about it in our newsletter) in order to allow them a more flexible timeplan to replace the bucket.

We have been communicating with Cleanteam Ghana over the past 2 years and both parties have exchanged many of our experiences. Both projects are now at a stage where we can really compare results of our testing. However, we are still in an ongoing conversation and we might be able to jointly share some insights later on.

Jessica Altenburger | Lima | This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
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  • Jessixr
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Re: Introducing x-runner mobile system

2. Financial analysis.
We charge 25 Soles (approx. 10$) a month for our pick-up service. This might seems like a lot, but is aligned with other services our customers use and in our surveys the price has been rated satisfactory. Older systems such as pit latrines (there are no public toilets) have been proven to have a very high installation costs: at times 800- 1000 Soles and then they also have to be either emptied or closed again, which also has its costs. Bucket toilets do not have any direct costs. It has to be understood here that our families really see the toilet as an upgrade in their lives and as a clear improvement of their housing. They say that the fact alone that they have a reliable toilet and a reliable service brings great ease of mind to their lives.
We need 500 households to achieve a service break-even.

Compost: We are just conducting a study about the composting landscape in Lima together with an engineer from the Agraria University. Lima has a very high need for compost since it is all desert. Many municipalities, parks and gardening companies here produce and use their own compost. There are also many companies that buy compost in very large quantities. We are just re-calculating some of our costs regarding the compost, so unfortunately also here I cannot give you a full answer at this point.

Jessica Altenburger | Lima | This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
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  • muench
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Re: Introducing x-runner mobile system

Dear Jessica,

Someone else mentioned on the forum the Grand Challenges in Health competition from Canada (seems to be unrelated to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation "Grand Challenges Exploration" grants (?)).

When filtering for sanitation, I spotted the 2 minute video of your project with the mobile toilets in Lima (with 40 families now?). Very nice video, very interesting and only few likes to far. So I "liked" it and maybe if you tell us more about this competition and why you entered it, more people with "like" your project?

The video is here:
applications.grandchallenges.ca/en/viewV...5E6AA1EC37B5483C6D34

Good luck with it all!

Regards,
Elisabeth

P.S. Finally I know what you look like, Jessica - since your profile photo is only of a toilet. ;-)

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  • Jessixr
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Re: Introducing x-runner mobile system

Dear Elisabeth

Thank you very much for your "Like" and for bringing the CGC voting to or attention. We weren't informed that the online voting is open - and you might have saved us from missing out on many votes!

The GCC is, similar as the Gates Challenges, highlighting a certain topic every year and solicits application therefore. This year it was in the sector of health and one of the sub-categories was water and sanitation.

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  • Jessixr
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Re: Introducing x-runner mobile system

Somehow I had some formatting issues and had to continue my post in a new window:
So for all SuSanA members I would like to give an clearer overview of what we do and where we work and also, on what are our next steps are:

OVERVIEW
We bring reliable and responsible sanitation to those urban households that do not have a toilet. X-runner provides a sanitation system that works without piping or sewers. We have designed a portable dry toilet that does not require water, and that can be installed quickly, easily, and affordably within any home. It is aesthetically appealing, straightforward and comfortable to use for people of all ages.
Our toilet works through resource separation: a simple divider in the toilet bowl enables urine and feces to be directed into different collection containers. This helps collecting and storing the excrements smell free.
Our toilet comes with a professional pick-up service where every week, in exchange for a fee, x-runner goes to the homes and replaces their full feces containers with clean ones. This way, our families only need to worry about using and maintaining their toilet, while we take care of disposing the content. After the pick-up, we then transport the collected containers to our central facility hub. There, we treat the feces through a composting process, during which pathogens are destroyed and the feces are being upcycled into compost.

SANITATION IN PERU
10 million people in Peru, one third of the population, do not have access to proper sanitation. Lima is the 2nd driest capital in the world. As the city is running out of water, it struggles to provide water and water-based sewer connections for all its inhabitants: in Lima, about 3 million people (600,000 families) lack access to sanitation facilities. Due to the city’s water shortage, the public sewage company Sedapal has began to reach out to new solutions in the alternative sanitation sector this year (among others; x-runner) with the aim to reach the 3 million people that they will never be able to provide with water-based sanitation.
x-runner works in Villa El Salvador, the oldest slum of Lima. Villa El Salvador, just as all the other shantytowns in Lima, has been built on top of sand dunes and instable grounds of Lima’s desert. For the past decades it has been growing without any great deal of urban planning on sanitation or water infrastructure. In Villa el Salvador and other shantytowns, family members of all ages usually live under one roof. They have basic education, they might own items such as televisions or a fridge, but they do not have a proper toilet. They use buckets or pit latrines – two methods that have been proven unhygienic and inconvenient: they cause foul odour, provide breeding grounds for insects and diseases and they contaminate the grounds and the ground waters of entire neighborhoods. Families struggle with chronic stomach diseases, and children with diarrhea.

EXPANDING OUR SERVICE:
Next week we will roll out in a new community, where we'll install our new toilets, test a new branding and marketing and also test some new price packages. We want to reach by teh end of 2014 at least 550 families. At this number we can achieve a break even on a service level and proof that our system can work in financial and technical terms:

What we've done to be ready for expansion:

Product:
For the past months, our design team has improved the design of the x-runner toilet significantly
• We have 43 manually produced fiberglass toilets ready to be installed (locally produced)
• The fabrication of a large scale tooling for an automated fiberglass production process is in progress (with this tooling we can produce up to 2000 toilets - locally). They are still expensive though as in fiberglass production price does not go down very much with the number of pieces.

Customer segments:
Throughout the month of June and July, we conducted in-depth interviews with our families to better understand their decision making and financial behaviour

Mapping of communities:
We’ve been scouting new communities and we are mapping different options. We’re meeting with community members and leaders to have a better understanding of the specific challenges. We also worked with the local sanitation utility Sedapal to see where they can expand in the past 10 years and what parts of the city they will not be able to reach.

Compost & Compost Training:
• Throughout July and August, the National Agrarian University of Lima has been training our entire staff on compost treatment, quality management, health and safety.
• Further building of the composting plant
• We hired an agricultural engineer from the UNALM who has already conducted thorough research into the Lima compost market and who will position x-runner’s product in this market.
• Another engineer from UNALM is taking and analysing probes every week from our compost and will write a master thesis on her work

Logistics & technology:
From April through July - together with Nabil Mansouri from Stanford/EAWAG - we’ve implemented three new technology tools:
1. Mobile Biz: an invoice system for payment collection
2. ODK: a data collection system for process management and data collection
3. Podio: a web-based platform for organizing team communication, business processes, data and content in project management workspaces

Sanitation marketing:
We’ve hired a marketing student from UPC to build, manage and implement marketing, sales, and customer research activities. She has already started building a brand that should help us making the topic of sanitation more attractive to our users.

Impact measuring:
We are continuously defining additional indicators for our impact monitoring during the pilot. At this point, we are measuring routines with the compost such as weight of feces collected, nutrients level, pathogen level, amount of water in the compost and the amount of compost generated.

Jessica Altenburger | Lima | This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
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  • Jessixr
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Re: Introducing x-runner mobile system

Hi! I would like to introduce one of my team members:
Celia Vasquez, here on SuSanA as cjvs25, is an Agricultural Engineer from the Agraria University here in Lima.
Celia is in charge of running the pick-up service and of our composting process. She can definitely better answer some of the questions (Chris Canaday) that are more technical and more treatment related.
Celia speaks English, but feels much more comfortable to converse in Spanish (how well does the translating option on SuSanA work?) and she will quickly introduce herself.

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  • cjvs25
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Re: Introducing x-runner mobile system

Hola a todos, mi nombre es Celia Vásquez y trabajo en x.runner-venture, actualmente soy la gerente de operaciones. Mi trabajo consiste en que todas las áreas concernientes a la recolección, logística, lavado, tratamiento de compost , mantenimiento del área de trabajo y otras como Pago del producto, Relaciones con la comunidad; se realicen y lleven a cabo de una manera eficiente y óptima, para así llegar a la eficacia en las operaciones.


+++++++++++
Translation by Google Translate; not perfect but gives an idea (added by moderator EvM):

Hello everyone, my name is Celia Vasquez and venture x.runner work, I am now the operations manager. My job is all areas concerning the collection, logistics, laundry, compost treatment, maintenance and other work area as Payment Product, Community Relations, made ​​and carried out in an efficient and optimal in order to reach efficiency in operations.
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  • Massimo
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Re: Introducing x-runner mobile system

Good day,I read with interest your write up on the excellent work you are doing, congratulations. Can you explain what you are doing with the waste they you are collecting?
We have a process (plant) that is used to dry and pasteurize human waste, with the output / end product being safe to handle, and use as a ground conditioner (fertilizer). Please send me a mail on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., and i will send you the brochure and write up.
We have a test machine in Santiago, and will be used for test work at Aquas Y Riles soon. If you want I will put you in touch with our representative there.
The machine is simple and cheap to run and maintain, it creates employment for under -skilled people, and produces a sale-able product.
Please also refer to
forum.susana.org/forum/categories/53-fae...-in-ethekwini-durban

Chat soon... Massimo

Massimo Zanette -Parsep / LaDePa
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  • muench
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Re: Introducing x-runner mobile system

Dear Massimo,
Good to hear from you. If you have brochures and alike, it is more practical and efficient if you attach them to your post or give people the URL to your website, rather than saying "please e-mail me and I will send you the brochure".

If I am not mistaken, your brochure is available from your website here:
www.parsep.co.za/pages/processes.html

(correct?)

Please continue to update us on your progress (I saw you gave an update in the other thread: forum.susana.org/forum/categories/53-fae...mit=12&start=24#5847 ). Thanks a lot.

Kind regards,
Elisabeth

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