Extraordinary Human Experience

What’s it like to live in the urban slum of Madagascar?

Armel Segretain, Process and Implementation Engineer at Loowatt, a MSc graduate from Cranfield University, conducted surveys in FAAMI, an impoverished neighborhood in Antananarivo (the capital city of Madagascar), where the Loowatt toilet pilot system is installed, to get a detailed understanding of socioeconomic realities in a dense urban area where 87% of people live below the poverty line of $1.25 per day. Watch the documentary of Loowatt in Madagascar below Part 1 and Part 2:

Armel recounts his “extraordinary human experience”:

When I arrived in FAAMI summer of 2013, the first things I noticed were brittle timber houses on the brink of collapse. Life here is based on one theory: “focus on today”.

Maybe it’s due to the unpredictability of the floods and cyclones, or the pressures of extreme poverty, that people have a profound philosophy to live in the present.

Getting interviews has not been an easy task, but thanks to my Malagasy translator and friend Michel, we have been successful. Our approach is to demonstrate sincere respect towards Malagasy people.

Since I am a “vazaha” (foreigner), we found that humor is a great way to get people to open up about issues regarding the toilet and sanitation.

I was overwhelmed with the devastating reality they face everyday, not having a place to go to the toilet. We are grateful that people trusted us to speak about such personal issues. When I spoke about the Loowatt pilot system, people were really enthusiastic, especially about the comfortable, hygienic user experience. People who had tried the pilot toilet really enjoyed it and wished there to be more Loowatt toilets in the neighborhood.

Overall, my summer has been a fantastic experience getting to know the Malagasy people and culture. Now more than ever, I am enthusiastic about bringing Loowatt’s innovation to more people in Madagascar.


Armel Segretain

Process and Implementation Engineer at Loowatt

Armel is a researcher of the cultural, financial, and technical aspects of water and sanitation projects in developing countries. For his MSc thesis, Armel mapped the socio-economic landscape of the urban slum FAMMI in Antananarivo to assess the feasibility of a full-scale implementation of Loowatt’s sanitation business model. This later manifested to be Loowatt’s pilot system. At Loowatt, he continues to work on the implementation and coordination of future projects in Madagascar. Armel holds an engineering degree from Polytech Montpellier and a MSc in Water Management from Cranfield University.

This blog was originally published on the Loowatt website. Loowatt also provides luxury waterless toilets for festivals and outdoor events in the UK.

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