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The World Health Organisation estimates that six out of ten people in Africa have no access to proper toilets. Proper toilets and hand washing prevents the transfer of bacteria, viruses and parasites found in human excreta, which otherwise contaminate water sources, soil and food. This contamination is a major cause of diarrhoea, the second biggest killer of children in poor urban neighbourhoods, of the global south. The “Iko Toilet” initiative began through Ecotact, a social enterprise incorporated in Kenyan in 2006. Ecotact’s mission is to develop innovative answers to the growing environmental sanitation crisis in Kenya’s urban areas. It is a partnership with local authorities in Kenya through a Build-Operate-Transfer process. The aim is to offer convenient, hygienic and sustainable water and sanitation services to users in markets, bus parks, urban leisure parks and slums. Ecotact has invested in environmentally sustainable sanitation projects in many urban centres and low income settlements in towns in Kenya. The Iko Toilet initiative derived from the word “eco,” has been supported with both technical and financial resources such as the Patient Capital Loans from Acumen Fund (USA); awards from global agencies like Global Water Challenge (USA) and Ashoka-Innovators for the Public; Government agencies such as the Athi Water Services Board, and corporate social responsibility funds of some large Kenyan corporations. The toilet design minimizes on use of water; and incorporates harvesting of urine – which is bio-digested for energy. Since 2008, Ikotoilet has been serving over 40,000 people daily with safe water and sanitation and is constructing more ikotoilets in ten Municipalities. The ikotoilet blocks have incorporated income-generation kiosks such as shoe shiners, cleaners, barber shops, newspaper vendors and electronic money transfers outlets (M-Pesa) which provide employment to local youth. Ecotact currently employs 160 youth in the “toilet malls.” The ikotoilet programme aims at restoration, transformation and sustainability of sanitation in urban public space. This has helped improve views about public toilets; and has also stimulated demand across the East Africa region. Ikotoilet in partnership with the government of Kenya has also engaged in highlighting the importance of proper hygiene. This is done through public awareness campaigns such as participating in the Guinness record contest for Most People Washing their Hands at the Same Place. The initiative has managed to change lives, and transform public health practices in many communities. The initiative has won several awards such as the Ashoka Fellowship on Public Innovation in 2008; Lemelson Fellowship on Technological Innovations; World Toilet Organisation Hall of Fame 2008; Schwab Fellowship on social entrepreneurship 2009; Africa Social Enterprise of the Year 2009 by World Economic Forum and Citation during the Clinton Global Initiative 2009. As they scale-up, Ecotact has finalized an Ikotoilet youth franchise incubation model that will promote young entrepreneurs in sanitation services. The model has received support from the Government of Kenya through the Athi Water Services Board and Ministry of Youth Affairs.

ECOTAC Limited
Menelik Roaff, Off P. O. Box 24045 Kenya 00100 |
+254 020 2459130