The Toilet Board Coalition sat down with the Cohort and Mentors of the 2017 Toilet Accelerator to find out a bit more about what they felt were the most valuable learnings in their journey together over the last twelve months and what they’re excited about for the future of the sanitation sector.
TBC: Hi Andrew, could you please tell our readers a little bit about yourself and your role in the 2017 Toilet Accelerator?
Andrew: I’m Andrew Foote and I am the co-founder and CEO of Sanivation, a sanitation social enterprise in Kenya. As a company, we’re obsessed with ensuring more people can live in healthy communities. I’m always amazed when I hear that 4.1 billion live in communities where poop isn’t disposed safely which leads to diarrheal disease being the second leading cause of death for children under 5.
We believe that taking a waste to value approach can transform how people think about sanitation. Currently, our waste processing factories treat fecal sludge and transform it into a sustainable, high-quality fuel. What’s so exciting is that by treating waste as a resource we can operate these waste factories at a profit. We see sanitation as the impact opportunity of the decade.
We were thrilled to be a part of the Toilet Board Coalition’s Toilet Accelerator because it gave us the opportunity to help multinational corporations have access to a more cost-effective and reliable fuel.
TBC: What are some of the new inspirations, insights or understandings that you’ve gained through your year working with the Toilet Board Coalition in the Toilet Accelerator?
MNCs have a large demand for fuel, and this demand is only growing as their main energy sources — firewood and fossil fuels — are becoming scarcer and more expensive. We are painting a different energy future for MNCs in Africa. By offering MNCs an environmentally sustainable fuel at the same price they already pay, we can help create reliable supply chains while also improving health in local communities. Navigating MNCs is not easy though, and requires internal champions. Champions that realize in 3 years they are going to have a serious supply chain problem for biomass fuels. We’re in the process of signing contracts for guaranteed offtake agreements with industrial fuel customers and even local flower farms in Naivasha.
TBC: What is your vision of the future, what do we need for the sanitation business sector to be able to get there?
Andrew: At Sanivation, we envision a future in which everyone has access to safe and dignified sanitation, every day. We’re pretty bullish about this becoming reality, and don’t shy away from knowing that it’s going to take a concerted effort to achieve SDG 6 of 100% access to safely managed sanitation services.
When governments are making procurement decisions on waste processing systems, the thinking must be, are we using a resource recovery approach? We need to continue to brand non-sewered sanitation solutions, as aspirational. Non-sewered sanitation not only saves money, but is better for the environment than sewage when properly managed. We need more partnerships. Companies, NGOs, research institutions, and governments, together, need to coordinate their efforts to apply innovative financing schemes and new technologies to make sanitation accessible to all. By shifting the paradigm to see poop as a valuable resource instead of waste, we’re hoping to catalyze others to join the sector and take the 4.1 billion number to zero.
TBC: Thanks Andrew!
READ NEXT: Andrew’s Project Lead, Sandy Rodger’s piece on his experience leading Andrew through the Toilet Accelerator Programme in 2017.