Silanga Village, an area in Kibera, which is Africa’s second-largest urban slum. Silanga is home to roughly 20,000 people. And as with most of the world’s urban slums, sanitation is severely lacking here.
Silanga is the place where Peepoo was first tested and is now sold, used and collected on a daily basis. Here, Peepoople is currently serving more than 4,500 people and is improving health and livelihood. This has created a series of work opportunities, both formal and informal.
Listen to their own stories.
Stella Kitonga, Manager Peepoo School Programme
Stella Kitonga is the Manager Peepoo School Programme for Peepoople Kenya in Silanga, Kibera. She has worked with Peepoople since August of 2010. Stella leads a team of people who were all born in the Kibera slum and are now working to improve the quality of life through providing a sustainable sanitation solution for the area.
Stella reflects on the situation in Kibera. “Walking through the alleys of Kibera some years back, I was humbled at how so many people survived on so little. The majority have no permanent income. Yet, they are people full of life, and work hard to sustain themselves and creatively solve their day-to-day challenges even in the harshest of conditions.”
But then, she smiles and says, “The team is amazing and is energized and truly proud to be a part of positive change within the community. We are tackling a problem that all members have passed through and understand completely, having experienced first-hand what life is like without having a toilet to use. This is our biggest strength at Peepoople. We provide people with a choice, and the freedom to use a clean toilet in the privacy of their own homes. Not only do we want this in Kibera, but we also want to scale up and reach other slums in Kenya. I am glad to be part of this team!”
Sharing the sentiments of everyone at Peepoople, Stella continues, “I have a passion for families and my personal motto is ‘To touch a life as I go’. I don’t believe in meeting someone and not impacting their life. When you support and improve the life of one family at a time, you eventually find you have supported the entire community.”
Anne Ndunga, Peepoo Saleswoman
In Kibera, the most important distribution channel is the Peepoo saleswomen. They are micro-entrepreneurs and have been trained by Peepoople to set up their own business in order to sell Peepoos. One of the first saleswomen is Anne Ndunga. Anne sells Peepoos through door-to-door sales and plot parties and also educates her customers about sanitation.
But Anne has come a long way to become a businesswoman: “I have lived a very hard life with many problems. I didn’t have a father when I grew up which is why I got married early. I was only 17. My husband was poor, so I tried to find some jobs. I started to work as a cleaning lady at CID headquarters in Milimani. When I got some money, I found a college where I learned about hairdressing. I then worked as a hairdresser up to now. I know a lot about massage and beauty. Because of my good behaviour, I became a community health worker within the government in Amref. I am still in that project and we try to take care of sick people, mainly newborn and pregnant women. During a meeting I got to hear about vacancies at an organisation called Peepoople. I applied and I got the job as a sales lady. This job is very good for me and I appreciate it so, so much!”
A very successful sales strategy for Peepoople has been to hold plot parties, following the method developed by Tupperware home parties. As Anne explains, “A plot party is when I stand at a place and talk to people in the neighbourhood, like a class. I teach and answer questions about how to use Peepoo, where to drop them and the advantages of Peepoo. It is good, but sometimes credit has to be given at these plot parties. When I try to go back and collect the credits, sometimes it happens that I cannot find the customer since they gave a false name. But in other places like Line Saba in Kibera, plot parties are good. People understand we try to make the village clean. They pay for half and use Peepoo, and then I collect the credit.”
Loice Anaya, Peepoo Customer
Loice Anaya is 49-years-old and lives in Silanga with her husband. All of their children are grown up and have moved out. Loice and her husband are two of the 4,500 regular Peepoo users in Silanga. They buy their Peepoos every month from Patricia Okello, one of the Peepoo saleswomen.
Loice remembers when she first met Patricia. “Sometime last year, as I was in our small house relaxing with my husband, Patricia came to our house and told us she had something new that she wanted to share with us. Since she was new to us we were quite hesitant, but we thought she was harmless since she was a lady and seemed of age.”
Even though Loice and her husband did not know Patricia, they were curious to hear her what she had to say. “We welcomed her and she taught us about the Peepoo, its usage, its importance and how it’s disposed. We were excited to start the use of Peepoo and we all think it’s the best idea we have heard since then. We are grateful and appreciate the Peepoo project.”
Idda Andiwo, Peepoo Customer
Even though Peepoo was developed foremost with women and children’s needs in mind, single men have become a large customer group in Kibera. But families like Idda Andiwo’s, still represent the largest user group.
In many ways, Idda’s story is similar to many other women in the urban slum. “I am a 48- year- old woman blessed with 10 children. I am engaged in small-scale business. I have a place where I mostly sell most farm produce as a (green grocer). I wake up early in the morning, go to the market to buy the farm produce, then I come and sell it in Kibera at a low profit. The money I make out of the business helps me take care of my daily necessities. Sometimes it is enough and sometimes it is not.”
Idda’s experience with the lack of toilets, are also common. “For a long time I have been using the public toilet. They have been very expensive sometimes for me to afford. I have been paying five Kenyan Shillings per use, per person. The expense was big. The long queues used to be boring and sometimes dirty.“
Since the start of Peepoople’s project in Kibera, Idda has been buying Peepoos from Patricia Okello, one of the Peepoo micro-entreprenurs: “When Peepoo was introduced in Silanga back in 2010, Patricia introduced the new product to me when she started selling. Before, I’ve never thought about any other means of accessing sanitation. Since then, my five youngest children and I use it. It’s a home toilet, which I use whenever, wherever. I also like the fact that it’s single-use. Therefore I do not have to share it with any one. So there’s no fear of contacting diseases that are caused due to bad sanitation.”
Felix “Joko Molo”, Undugu Drop-point
Felix, who goes by the name “Joko Molo”, works at one of the Peepoo drop-points in Silanga, Kibera. If people don’t utilise their used Peepoos as fertiliser in their own gardens, they can take their used Peepoos to the Peepoo drop-point. The drop-points are open daily, and are centrally-located to minimise the walking distance for users. At the drop-point, a refund is paid for each used Peepoo that is delivered. The value of the refund is approximately one third of the Peepoo purchase price.
Joko Molo, as Felix prefers to be called, starts early: “I wake up 5:45 in the morning and begin the day with praying. At 6:00 I am at the drop-point at Undugu. I always start by cleaning the drop-point and then I put everything in order. I collect water and fill the tank for hand washing, I wash the floor and I place the bag outside the locker. I also water the flowerbed we have next to the drop-point.”
When the customer comes to Joko Molo’s droppoint “they leave the bag or bucket to me in which they carry their used Peepoo-bags. I count how many bags there are and drop them in our big bag. Then I note their refund. I give back the bag or bucket to the customer who washes it and also washes their hands.”
Joko Molo studied at collage, but in Kibera it is still difficult to find a long-term job. “I did 4n4 (up to high school) then I went to college studying sanitation and water related deposits, but I didn’t pay the money to get the certificate. After this I’ve had many short-time jobs. My job at Peepoople is the longest job I’ve ever had which I’ve now had for more than one year.”
The day ends at lunch, but “sometimes costumers want to leave the bags after 12.00, so I keep contact with them and wait for them to come and leave the bags.”
Angelica Mwenzi, Entrepreneur
Not all users are yet comfortable with delivering their used Peepos to the drop-point by themselves. That has given the opportunity for people like Angelica Mwenzi to create their own side business.
Angelica is an active entrepreneur in Silanga. She holds several positions in community committees and is active as a Community Health Promoter. Angelica also is a member of the Riverside Silanga Garbage Collection group and tends to a small garden on the border of the village. In addition to all of this, she is raising five children, four grandchildren, and now accommodating up to six people in her house that has one small bedroom. And yet she has time to collect used Peepoos from her neighbours.
Angelica realised through her engagement and knowledge in the community that she had an opportunity. “Some residents feel uncomfortable, or don’t have the time to drop off their Peepoos. I collect the Peepoos from my neighbours, and I take them to Peepoo drop-point. At the drop-point I get the one Kenyan Shilling refund per Peepoo. On a good day I collect 60 to 70 Peepoos during my morning. People leave them outside their houses so I can take them. I make close to 85¢ for an hour’s work.”