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'Mama Poo' brings simple sanitation to a Kenyan slum

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(Read caption) One of two Peepoo bag collection and “drop off” points in Silanga, Kibera, on the outskirts of Nairobi, Kenya.

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“They call me ‘Mama Poo,” Anne told me matter-of-factly as we strolled through a dusty pathway in Silanga, a small neighborhood in the expansive Kibera slums of Nairobi, Kenya. “And I like that,” she added.

Anne Nudge is a sales representative for Peepoople AB, a Swedish social enterprise that, last October, launched a pilot project in Silanga marketing and selling “The Peepoo" – a single-use, personal toilet that sanitizes human waste quickly, preventing it from contaminating the surrounding environment.

After just a few weeks, the bag transforms the waste into a nutrient-rich fertilizer.

The Peepoo bags, which sell at a subsidized (by PeePoople) cost of three Kenyan Shillings (four cents) each, are used at home, then returned to one of two “drop-off” points where customers get a one Kenyan Shilling refund/incentive for returning the bags.

While treated bags may seem a rudimentary, even crude form of sanitation, looking at the alternatives make the solution seem a little less far fetched.

The first option for many slum dwellers are the overcrowded, unsanitary, and often unsafe public toilets – simple elevated wooden or tin shacks with holes in the floor – that breed disease and sometimes serve up to 300, even 500 households.


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