In district of Kilifi in on the Kenyan coast, a Dutch consortium has created a market for the supply and demand of a new type of brick, which is revolutionising safe toilets for residents.
The cement bricks are used for toilets promoted by public-private partnership Finish Ink (Financial Inclusion Improves Sanitation and Health) in Kenya. Each brick sells for 20 Kenyan schillings (17 eurocents) making a healthy profit. The interlocking bricks use less cement and are easier to stack. They are also cheaper than coral bricks from the local quarry.
Although they were originally intended for constructing toilets, demand for the bricks is growing as more and more residents discover they can also use them to build houses. The market mechanism behind sanitation is an important component of the programme. Providing access to safe sanitation by creating business opportunities. The programme also hopes to create a self-funding market in which employment is created through building toilets and houses.
Loan cooperative Imarika Sacco (founded in 1972) enables its members, who normally would have no access to financial services, to save and borrow money via the M-Pesa system, which has conquered East Africa with its mobile payment traffic. Its members are small-scale farmers and road-side shopkeepers selling all kinds of wares. The cooperative encourages them to save the equivalent of 17 euros a month from their wages, which range from 100-300 euros a month. The construction of toilets prevents diseases like cholera or dehydration. This means people no longer have to take loans to pay for medicines which they cannot pay back when they become ill.
In 2015 Imarika Sacco began working with Amref, which trains builders to make the bricks and inspects the construction site. Now Imarika has granted 2440 loans for sanitation. Almost all loans are paid back within a year. Amref offers free on-site inspections, trains craftsmen and collects sound materials to build proper toilets. People can choose between various toilet formulas: a simple version costs 130 euros, and one with a septic tank costs about 430 euros. An upgrade with tiles, nice paint and a mirror, costs a maximum of 700 euros.
The PPP is having impact, as this year Kenya suffered its heaviest rainfall in decades causing severe flooding in the coastal region.
"However, this time the cholera outbreaks were less serious in this area. We do not have any scientific evidence, but we cautiously believe that this is because of the toilets." says Imarika Sacco Manager Edward Charo.
Finish Ink is a consortium involving Waste, AMREF the Netherlands, SNS Reaal and UNU Merit and is subsidised by the Sustainable Water Fund (FDW) programme. The FDW programme is financed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and administered by the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO.nl).
Read the original Vice Versa World of Water article on this initiative The rise of the toilet (page 30).