As much as we focus on the technical challenges of building toilets, the real battle is the maintenance. In Kibera, 65% of the toilets are not operational because the pits are full and there is no means to empty it or because the toilets are broken and nobody has the responsibility to fix them. But even more often, residents can’t use the toilets because of the seemingly simple problem of keeping them clean. 

This morning I shadowed a team from Community Cleaning Services (CCS), a for-profit subsidiary of SC Johnson, which is trying to tackle exactly this problem one toilet at a time. Justin DeKozmovsky, who spearheads the BOP iniatives at SC Johnson, founded CCS 2 years ago and has been vital to its continued growth. Each team operates as an independent franchise responsible for securing their own clients but receiving training and supplies from CCS headquarters.

The first set of toilets we cleaned in the Kawangware slum are a classic example: 45 families, each consisting of 4-5 members, share three toilets. The landlord originally built the toilets but the maintenance is left to the tenants. The latrines are designed to be pour-flush and supposedly connect to the sewer, although the waste was actually flowing into an open pit outside. However, there was no water available to flush the waste, and the pipes taking the waste away were too small and frequently clog. Newspapers used as toilet paper and plastic bag flying toilets exacerbate the clogging issues. In just the 3 days since the last visit by the CCS team, the feces had overflowed the squat pan and collected all the way to the door.

Before the cleaning
Armed with scrubbers, mops, and SC Johnson’s own Toilet Duck and Mr. Muscle, the brave CCS team dove right in. In just 45 minutes they uncloggeed, cleaned, and disinfected all three toilets. For just 25Ksh (~$0.30) in materials, the bowls were left sparking clean! I will spare you the videos of the cleaning, but the pictures speak for themselves.
After the cleaning

At Sanergy, our focus is on cleanliness because a clean toilet is a useable toilet. A lot of thought has gone into the design to achieve both perceived cleanliness and actual cleanliness. But to make it all useful, we also need good products, procedures, and training. Our partnership with CCS will provide us with exactly this. CCS will help train our toilet operators on cleaning processes and procedures and we will be using SC Johnson products to keep our toilets clean and fresh. We look forward to working closely with Justin, Mambo and the rest of the CCS crew.

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