In June 2019, the Vaele Women’s Group – which formed in 2010 and offers members low-interest loans through a member savings plan – expanded its entrepreneurial sites by starting a sanitation enterprise to sell products and services that improve latrines in their community. They heard about this opportunity from USAID’s Kenya Integrated Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (KIWASH) Project.
KIWASH is training new and existing community groups like the Vaele Women’s Group and local artisans to start small sanitation businesses to sell, install or construct improved latrine systems within their communities. These enterprises offer opportunities to earn extra income while improving sanitation and health in their county. “Once we got wind of the potential sanitation enterprise opportunity, we jumped in by contributing a startup capital of USD 120,” says Joan Kihenzi, chairlady of the Vaele Women’s Group. KIWASH matched their initial investment with a sanitation grant of US$ 119.
KIWASH – in partnership with the Ministry of Health and local government agencies – started promoting improved sanitation and hygiene practices in Kakamega County in 2016, with the goal of ending the practice of open defecation. This involved sensitizing community members on the benefits of latrines and hygienic practices as well as promoting improved, safe and affordable improvements for pit latrines.
These improvements include three options: the SATO pan, which has a self-sealing trap door that closes quickly, seals tightly and can be fitted to an existing latrine; the SAFI (Kiswahili for “clean”) latrine, which has concrete walls designed to withstand soil pressure and can prevent structures from collapsing; and ventilated latrines that reduce odors. The use of Interlocking Soil Stabilized Bricks (ISSBs) improve the structural integrity of new or improved latrines and reduce the risk of collapse.
“Our business was boosted by partnering with two KIWASH-trained artisans, making it easier to offer complete services to our customers. We are grateful to have also been trained on making interlocking bricks, which will go a long way in earning us extra income in our sanitation enterprise,” adds Joan.
KIWASH continues to nurture and incubate grassroots groups involved in sanitation enterprises by providing additional training in business development skills and linking with local suppliers of SATO products to have outlets closer to communities. So far, KIWASH has trained 248 artisans across its nine project counties to construct and install SATO and SAFI latrines and is working with 99 groups to retail the products. These groups have invested USD 13,734 in sanitation enterprises, with an additional USD 10,662 in KIWASH matching grants. These efforts have resulted in 63,585 people accessing improved sanitation while creating job opportunities. “I am now able to easily pay school fees for my children at university with the extra income,” notes, Timothy Kulavi, one of the two artisans with the Vaele Women’s Group.