Team #12 // BlueLoo

Executive Summary

BlueLoo is a product service system promoting sanitation and micro-entrepreneurship in the Kenyan region Kisumu by adding value to sludge. Unlike other services in the area, the business revenue is generated through an extended value-chain with the civilians being providers of the sludge, ultimately adding value to local businesses through productive use of the material. This has shown to be profitable in Ghana and can therefore be an initiative to improve the local economy as well as sanitation.[1]

[1] Scientific American – New economy of excrement (2017)

Problem

As of now, 67% of the total sludge (312 t daily) in Kisumu ends up in the streets. 51% of the total percentage ends up in the street due to lack of economy to pay for proper handling of the sludge which is the biggest problem area in the shit-flow.[1] Due to this, the latrines in the poorest areas are emptied by locals, who dispose of it in the storm drains. This is illegal and has a lot of health issues implied. Additionally, there is a lot of social stigma: it is looked down upon to be the emptier of the latrines, even though it is a necessity.

[1] Shit Flow Diagram Promotion Initiative (2016)

Target user / Customer

The citizens of the informal settlements in Kisumu are the main users, however, the solution requires a full value-chain where everyone involved has incitement to be a part of it. The citizens get their latrines emptied for free, whereas other actors in the value-chain can earn profits from the sludge they collect. Ultimately, the concept could be helpful for the local government, as increased sanitation in the region could reduce annual costs of having a diseased population.


Your solution and how the concept is feasible

Our solution is a product-service-system consisting of a solution for retrieving sludge and using it for productive use, ultimately creating value of it. The BlueLoo is an oil drum with the capacity of 50 liters placed in a hole in the already existing pit latrines. It is covered by a light-weight squatting plate weighing 11,5 kg for ease of lifting it.[1] The user can then defecate directly into the oil drum, that can easily be taken out of the latrine, to be collected by a company with a truck. Ideally, this would be Gasia Poa which already operates in the local area.[2] There has been similar projects in Ghana, by the company Pivot, where sludge was turned to fertilizer and charcoal where their main issue was ironically getting enough sludge collected.[3]

“Ironically, the main barrier Pivot faces is getting enough sludge. In theory, a city of at least one million people (…) should be able to supply it, but nobody was bringing sludge from the hard-to-reach pit latrines in the informal settlements.” – Chelsea Wald (2017) Nature Magazine

Thus, it seems feasible to add a collection service, as collection is the prerequisite for disposing of it properly. By adding value to the sludge, it creates more incentive for the various actors along the value chain to be a part of it.

[1] latrine-slab-squatting-plate-universal/

[2] urban-sanitation-services/wsup/gasia-poa/

[3] Scientific American – New economy of excrement (2017)

Four unique value propositions

Our solution is therefore a product-service-system adding value to sludge and ultimately producing Better sanitation in the local latrines through easier method of emptying

  1. Better sanitation in the local latrines through easier method of emptying
  2. Cleaner groundwater in the local area
  3. A means of implementation in already existing latrines
  4. An entrepreneurial platform for local businesses


Financials

The business model revolves around circular economy and micro-entrepreneurship. The product service system is free for the civilians, which is a crucial aspect. Otherwise, the poorest civilians would not be included in the solution, and we have identified them to be the most important group to focus upon. Collection will be paid for by adding value from the fecal sludge later in the value chain. Sludge can be used as fertilizer after processing, which seems viable in the context of Kenya, as 40 % of the Kenyan population work within agriculture.[1] At first, it will require investments from NGOs to start up the processing plants, but as value is added, it will eventually break even after some years, as seen in the Pivot case in Ghana.[2]

[1] http://www.fao.org/kenya/fao-in-kenya/kenya-at-a-glance/en/

[2] Scientific American – New economy of excrement (2017)

Impact

The solution will reduce the pollution of groundwater, since the oil drums will hinder the sludge from seeping out from the pit latrine. This impact alone will promote better drinking water and hygiene locally. Furthermore, the product service would provide a structured system for the collection of the sludge, ensuring that the fecal matter is handled and not illegally discarded. This would have a positive impact in terms of clean water and sanitation within the informal settlement area benefiting the health and well-being of the citizens. The system will ensure a reduction in health risks associated with unsanitary conditions while restricting the spread of certain diseases. An employee of this service would presumably not be subjected to the social stigma surrounding the collection of sludge because of the improved waste management. Finally, the service would help the residents of the settlement progress towards safe, sanitary and affordable living conditions with basic facilities that should be the right for every human being.

Link for more information

The following links have been useful throughout the project, as they have provided greater insights in the situation in Kisumu as well as neighboring countries.

the-new-economy-of-excrement

latrine-slab-squatting-plate

50kg-plastic-drum-with-lid

ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/article

Team

Throughout the project, we have been utilizing our team diversity to work together and come up with a co-created solution. We are from four different lines of study: Design & Innovation, Sustainable Energy, Process & Innovation and Biotechnology. Thus, we’ve had two members mainly knowing about product design whereas the others have had a more environmental approach to the case. Through the process we utilized that one member has written his bachelor’s thesis in modular product development in third world countries which provided insights for design considerations. Furthermore, it was useful that one member is from India, thus being able to provide insights from a very different background than Denmark in addition to his educational background.

Group Members

Emil Lundberg Andreasen [email protected]

Trine Bertram Rasmussen [email protected]

Thøger Kappel [email protected]

Vishnu Dev [email protected]

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