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Three-wheeled carts, better septic tanks help clean up Jakarta

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A Mercy Corps project titled PUSH (Program of Urban Sanitation and Hygiene Promotion) undertook a market analysis of Jakarta’s sanitation industry. Funded by the Suez Environment Foundation, the project found a massive untapped market of potential customers in urban Indonesia.

Around 94 million Indonesians live without access to sanitation services and 22 million people—more than two and a half times the population of New York City—have to pay for the use of communal latrines. This incredible number of people, who live mostly in urban slums, have long been overlooked by traditional markets under the assumption that they cannot afford sanitation services.

It became clear that improvements in this system could lower prices, reach more customers and, through marketing and education, encourage more Indonesians to value and pay for improved sanitation services.

To include more people in the market, costs had to fall and products had to specialize. By this time the PUSH initiative had ended, and a new Mercy Corps program called RW Siaga++ (“neighborhood alert”) began to take over the design and development phase. Funded by Coca-Cola, the US Agency for International Development (USAID), and in coordination with the local ministry of health, the project designed two specialized products that helped increase access to the unmet sanitation market:

1. Custom Sludge Cart: Innumerable inhabitants of Jakarta’s urban slums are considered unreachable by modern sludge-removal techniques because they live down narrow pathways where large sludge removal trucks cannot pass. RW Siaga++ designed a custom-made, three-wheeled sludge cart, called Kedoteng, equipped with a mini-sludge removal tank and a pump that can access latrines up to 50 meters (164 feet) away.

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