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The first pilot latrine for the Mifuko ecological sanitation project has been finished, and the project team is eagerly waiting for feedback from the users.

The construction of the entire latrine building lasted around two weeks and required the shared effort of the entire planning and construction team (the children of the family were also very eager to participate and of great help). The preparation of construction materials began with the filling of the hundreds of recycled plastic bottles with sand, in which the local women’s group also participated. Jane Mutala’s family, on whose plot the first latrine was constructed, also prepared and burned the bricks for the latrine walls.

The foundation for the structure was made from local quarry stones and a cement slab, and the rest of the foundations including the latrine chambers were made using the recycled bottle wall technique, where the sand-filled plastic bottles are laid in rows (a little like bricks) and bound together with layers of mortar and nylon rope to create a hive-like structure. The bottle walls were then plastered while leaving the blue bottle caps visible. A concrete slab with the openings for a ventilation pipe, fecal holes and pipes for urine and washing water was then cast on top of the bottle foundation and left to cure. A carefully molded toilet area/user interface was later cast around the pipes and openings. The latrine walls and stairs were made using locally burned bricks and roof structure and latrine floor were made from timber. Hand washing station and grey water filtering area were added as final touches.

When the latrine is in operation, one of the two toilet chambers will be in use while the other is left to compost. The composting process will take around one year, after which the chamber can be emptied and compost is ready to be used on the fields. The diverting user interface of this latrine model also separates all of the urine and directs it into separate canisters, in which the urine needs to sit for around 1 month to effectively dispose of any possible pathogens, after which it may be diluted and used as a very effective and ecological fertilizer.

The construction process of this first latrine included a lot of creative problem solving and taught the entire construction team some new skills. Things that were learned during construction and feedback that will be received from the first group of users will be used to improve the plan and operation of the future ecological toilets to be built in the area.

Because Mifuko is all about empowering women and we wouldn’t exist without our skilled artisans in Kenya, we decided to tell you their stories here in our blog. Eventually you will be able to find the story of the maker of your basket here, since each of our basket contains the signature of its maker in its tag!

We will start the stories with introducing one of our longest term artisan, Jane Mutala:  

Jane Mutala is a true business woman: she learnt to weave baskets at the age of 18 through her mother, and has been into many types of businesses since then. However, she thinks that making baskets is the most convenient and profitable way to make a living, since while weaving them she can stay at home in the rural area and take care of her large shamba (a plot of land for farming).

Spending more time at home is important also because she has a small farm to take care of, with cattle, goats and chicken. Jane starts her day at the homestead with milking the cows and feeding the animals. After that she goes to the local market to sell eggs and vegetables. She is dreaming of expanding the farm business gradually.

Although she likes her work, she says that the best part of the day are evenings since she gets to spend time with her family. She has five children, who are either driving motorbike taxis for a living, making beaded jewels, tailoring or still studying at school.
 

Stay tuned to read more stories about Mifuko women!

 

Have a sustainable summer with Mifuko and Little Sun and help us bring light to women groups in Kenya!

This summer, Mifuko collaborates with german company Little Sun for a special mission. From July 15 to August 15,  every 20 € spent in our webshop will bring one Little Sun solar lamp to one of the women in Kenya. At the same time, every Little Sun’s Original solar lamp sold in Little Sun’s webshop will do the same.

Little Sun is a German based global project and business which aims to bring clean and affordable energy to the 1,1 billion people in the world living off-grid. It was founded by artist Olafur Eliasson and engineer Frederik Ottesen in 2012. Since it’s official launch at London’s Tate Modern in 2012, more than 500,000 Little Sun lamps have been distributed worldwide, with half going to off-grid areas. Little Sun’s product, a handy solar lamp which you can hang around your neck, offers 4 hours of bright light or 10 hours of soft light with 5 hours of charging in the sun.

Mifuko’s artisan women are part of those 1,1 billion people that live without electricity. In rural Kenya, as in many areas of Sub-Saharan Africa, people suffer from a lack of clean lighting sources. So close to the equator the sun sets early in the day, between 6 and 7 pm all year round. Without access to lighting sources, the structure of entire communities is affected. Education levels drop, as children cannot study after sunset. Working hours are limited to daytime and income is reduced. Medical care, such as delivering babies at night, becomes more dangerous to provide. The quality of time together cooking and socialising is compromised.

For the women creating the Mifuko baskets, this means doing all their household chores as well as baskets during daytime. Otherwise they have to use unhealthy, dangerous kerosene lamps to continue working after sunset.

Together, Mifuko and Little Sun want to bring Little Sun Original solar lamps to the women’s group in Kenya, giving them the chance to focus on making the baskets during the day and do household chores in the evenings with the help of their solar light. Additionally, their children will be able to study, not risking burning themselves or inhaling dangerous smoke from kerosene lamps anymore.

Together with you, we want to provide lamps to all our 650 artisan women in rural Kenya. Visit Mifuko's webshop and find Little Sun’s webshop from here: littlesun.com/product/little-sun-original

Follow #SustainableSummer and #LittleSunxMifuko on Facebook and Instagram for special offers and news!

Mifuko Trust has just launched a new project in Kenya about which we’d love to share information with you!

We asked our artisans in Kenya what was something they would really need in their day-to-day life. Out of many issues one rose above others: poor sanitation systems. The current sanitation facilities in the area are inadequate and unhygienic and are not sustainable since they have to be rebuilt after a certain time.
 
According to Unicef, 16 million (50 percent) Kenyans do not have adequate sanitation and 50 per cent of rural households have no toilet facilities at all, and where they exist they are generally unhygienic. This has known to lead to lost lives, missed schooling, diseases, malnutrition and poverty. Across Kenya, around 20,000 people die each year from diarrhoea, most of which is directly attributed to poor water, sanitation and hygiene. Using proper toilets and hand washing - preferably with soap - prevents the transfer of bacteria, viruses and parasites found in human excreta which otherwise contaminate water resources, soil and food. It also helps create physical environments that enhance safety, dignity and self-esteem and is an essential foundation for better health, welfare and economic productivity.
 
Our solution to this problem: an ecological dry toilet which stores and composts feces. It will enable a sustainable and hygienic way to recycle human waste into fertilizer, that can then be used at the nearby vegetable field or sold for other local families for revenue. The new sanitation system is affordable for locals, since it will be built from recycled materials and people will be able to have an extra revenue from the by-product. One goal of the project is to have a better harvest on a smaller area, which will be possible using the new free and nutritious fertilizer, as opposed to expensive industrial ones. This is very important since 70% of our artisans’ income comes from farming and 30% from weaving our baskets.

The aim of the project on a broader scale is to protect and promote human health by providing a clean environment and breaking the cycle of disease in an economically viable, socially acceptable, and technically and institutionally appropriate way. All in all, there will be no need for complex infrastructure and the sanitation system will be easy and sustainable to maintain.
 
We have taken example from a similar project in Tanzania started in 2014 and lead by architect Zita Floret (you’ll find a blog about the project here). We are also cooperating with Huussi Ry, The Global Dry-toilet Association of Finland, who has had sanitation projects for example in Zambia and Swaziland (their website: http://www.huussi.net/en/ ).

The project will be started with building a pilot dry toilet in a rural area of Machakos in collaboration with one of our women self-help groups. As the project is entirely carried out by locals, from construction to maintenance, the community will learn new skills that may help them find further employment. The dry toilet is to function as a shared toilet facility for the local artisan group during daytime as well as a private toilet facility for a chosen family during other times of the day. The community concerned is already very excited about the project, so if it turns out successful, hopefully we’ll be able to build more toilets in other communities!

The collection of building materials has already started in May; a local hotel has been putting aside used plastic bottles, 1000 in total, that will be then filled with sand so they can be used in the toilet chamber basement.  The actual construction of the dry toilet will start in August 2017.

We will keep updating information about the project as it goes on and the effects it will have on the community, as well as further information about how the dry toilet functions, so stay tuned!
 
http://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/releases/2008/pr08/en/
http://zitarchitecture.tumblr.com/
http://www.huussi.net/en/
http://ecosankenya.blogspot.fi/p/about.html
https://www.unicef.org/kenya/wes.html

 

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