Improved incomes for community health volunteers through the sanitation economy
By Grace Okwisa, Communications Officer Kenya
The Kiini community health volunteers’ group have committed and dedicated their lives to serving their community in Kitui County. The group started out in 2019 with 17 women and 5 men and is now on a mission to improve sanitation in their community and financially empower women.
To that end, the group is always on the lookout for new opportunities to create income and improve livelihoods in their community. The group notably acquired a Makiga machine that they use to make and sell bricks for profit. “We began selling the interlocking bricks after we received a training from FINISH Mondial on how to fabricate this type of bricks. The proceeds we get from the sale are then put into a table banking scheme. This group-based funding system allows us to take out loans for personal development, which we can later repay with interest. In addition, the group members also get annual dividends from table banking,” says Joyce, the group treasurer.
Sharing knowledge with the wider community
A Makiga brick costs KSH 20 and you only need 320 bricks to construct a one-door improved latrine. This makes toilets more affordable, since no cement or sand is needed, unlike in normal construction.
The group has started to share their knowledge with others, notably with a youth group from the nearby child development center. “We have taught the group how to make Makiga bricks and construct FINISH toilets in order for the legacy to carry on,” says Joyce.
The group would like to reach more customers, but long distances and poor accessibility make some of the sales not profitable. The FINISH Mondial Kenya is trying to mitigate the issue by training members of the group in business management, including record keeping skills and development of business plans for financing.
Over 100 entrepreneurs trained in setting up their own sanitation business
The sanitation programme in Kitui county has been a great success largely because of the dedication of community health workers’ group, like the Kiini Makiga group, who strive to ensure every household has a durable toilet and knows how to properly use it.
Kitui County was the second County in Kenya to achieve Open defecation free (ODF) status in 2018, meaning every household has a latrine and a hand-washing system. The County has now embarked on a post-ODF activities plan, which focuses on maintaining sanitation standards and improving existing latrines in collaboration with FINISH. FINISH Mondial’s main role in this partnership is to create awareness on the need for safe, durable toilets and to strengthen local sanitation businesses.
A total of 100 entrepreneurs, mainly young people, have been trained in setting up sanitation businesses including construction services. They are building new toilets and improving existing ones, starting up mini hardware businesses for stocking and supplying construction materials, manufacturing hygiene and maintenance products, such as detergents, disinfectants, and soap, as well as running other water, sanitation and hygiene-related businesses.