After working as a pump attendant at a gas station in Nairobi County for many years, 57-year-old Timothy Kulavi retired to his rural home in Likuyani, Kakamega County. Retirement gave him an opportunity to venture into farming and also practice his childhood dream of carpentry and masonry. It did not take long before he was elected as a community health volunteer in charge of one neighborhood in his village.
In 2017, USAID’s Kenya Integrated Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (KIWASH) Project launched sanitation and hygiene promotion activities in Likuyani targeting 75 villages. Timothy’s village was among those selected due to low access to basic sanitation. Baseline figures indicated that 46 percent of households lacked handwashing facilities while 15 percent did not have latrines. Timothy was part of the team comprising members from the community, Ministry of Health and KIWASH that launched the effort to improve basic sanitation access in his village.
“KIWASH trained me on how to construct SAFI latrines and install SATO products. This was an eye opening opportunity for me,” says Timothy. KIWASH trains artisans to promote the uptake of low-cost sanitation technologies, namely SAFI latrines and SATO products. The two products are adaptable to different soil formations, smell free, easy to clean and affordable. “Immediately after the training, I saw an opportunity to start a sanitation business. I set up an exhibition site for SAFI latrine components and stocked SATO products,” he explains. Timothy has a demonstration SAFI latrine in his home and has installed a SATO pan and stool to stir the community’s interest in adopting the technologies.
Timothy has since introduced the sanitation business to the Vaele Women’s Group, of which he is a member. The Women’s Group pools their resources and distributes low-interest small business loans to members as a way to access greater capital. The group has so far invested US$120 to purchase SATO products which KIWASH supported through a matching grant. “Despite the venture slowly gaining popularity, I have so far installed 59 SATO products and constructed two SAFI latrines,” notes Timothy. The gradual uptake of improved sanitation products can be attributed to low income in the area.
In addition to the demonstration latrine and SATO pan in his home, Timothy also markets the products in the local market and goes door-to-door to reach more people. “My marketing slogan revolves around elimination of flies, smell and ease in cleaning which has continuously won the hearts of many. The business has not only improved hygienic practices in my community but has created a new revenue stream for me. The money I get from the latrine construction venture has enabled me to pay school fees for my children at the university,” he proudly notes.
While Timothy has experienced challenges with defaulted payments, he allows clients to pay in increments to make the products more affordable and increase the use of the improved sanitation products in his community.