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Africa Shows the Way in Repurposing Human Waste in Disadvantaged Areas

Esther Munyiva, a landlady in Nairobi’s Mukuru Kwa Reuben informal settlement, installed her first Fresh Life toilet in 2012. Munviya is one of millions of Africans benefiting from a quiet revolution in approaches to sanitation. Disruptors at universities, non-profits and companies across the continent are increasingly rethinking every aspect of the toilet value chain. In Ghana, South Africa, Kenya, Zambia and Uganda, simple but elegant alternatives are helping fight disease and environmental degradation while also saving water — and extracting monetary value from bodily waste. The waste collected by Fresh Life toilets is turned into fertilizers and animal feed by the company which services them. That’s what Safi Sana is doing in Accra, Ghana, where its factory turns 25 tons of fecal sludge (and 15 tons of organic waste) into both electricity and organic fertilizer every day. Meanwhile, Dyllan Randall of the University of Cape Town is plotting how to earn profits from bricks and fertilizers he’s building out of urine that he gets from waterless urinals.