Access to homes and their latrines within Mukuru is difficult at the best of times. Overhanging power cables, puddles that turn into lagoons, narrow, busy alleys and the natural hustle of a densely populated area provide the backdrop against which the collectors wind through the maze of corrugated iron structures (housing on average up to 4 people in one room) towards the Fresh Life Toilets. The waste containers are emptied and replaced every day. This is a demanding job that isn’t made any easier when the heavy rains cause the black cotton (clay) soils to turn into a sticky obstacle course.
This is the second version of the Blue Diversion Toilet. The first version, designed and tested in April 2013 in two slums in Kampala with our partners at Makerere University, offered some compelling feedback. After interviewing 1500 households, we learned that the toilet was too high so it would not fit into current latrine structures, the foot pump proved difficult to operate for younger children and old or infirmed adults and we also were challenged by other technical glitches. These issues were tackled by the engineers at Eawag, the design team and new partners Tribecraft. The new collaboration resulted in a re-designed and re-engineered toilet. It is a smaller, more efficient system that can be retro-fitted into existing latrine structures with minimal cost.
Now, with Sanergy, we would like to find out about different issues related to the operation and functioning of the Blue Diversion Toilet within a different informal settlement. The engineers would like to know how the toilet functions during regular day to day usage. The design team would like to find out how users evaluate the features of the toilet. The business team would like to understand the willingness to pay for the new technology. Finally, the social science team would like to understand why households and local business owners decide to invest in sanitation infrastructure. The toilet has arrived and is currently being installed so we are now ready to test the toilet. Watch this space for updates on our progress over the next 3 months.