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According to the Ministry of Water and Environment, Sector Performance report (2012), Uganda loses approximately UGX 386 billion (USD 177million) annually due to poor sanitation. 10% of the population in Uganda practices open defecation, which is estimated to cost the country USD 41 million per year, yet to eliminating the practice requires less than 650,000 household toilets to be built and used. The urban population of Uganda has rapidly increased to an estimated 5 million (14.7% of the total population) in 2012. The rapid urbanization is attributed to creation of new administrative units, population growth and rural-urban migration. The rapid urbanization has resulted in the development of slums and informal settlements which are ‘hotspots’ for the urban poor. These communities are characterized by ill-planned infrastructure and inadequate access to sanitation facilities. The Rapid Market Assessment (2011) carried out by Water For People in partnership with Captiva, a Business Development Service provider company in Kampala, revealed that manual laborers simply use a broken jerry can and rope to empty pit latrines. Such manual emptying of pits is not only unhygienic, but labor intensive and time consuming. Water For People, in partnership with Engineers Without Borders, saw this as an opportunity to design and provide more innovative and suitable equipment for manual pit emptying in Kampala. One of these emptying devices is known as the “Gulper,” which Water For People has been piloting for the emptying of both lined and unlined pits in Kampala. Under its Sanitation as a Business (SAAB) programme, however, Water For People is moving away from the traditional subsidy-driven approach and seeks to make the private sector the main driver for improving sustainable access to sanitation services among households hence the birth of Forever Sanitation Ltd. During the course of doing our work in the 5 divisions of Kampala City, most of the 250 customers that our business has served expressed relief at the fact that the Gulper technology that Forever Sanitation Ltd was applying would solve their problem of constantly full pits because before this technology, they would resort to releasing sludge in to the community drainage systems, or abandoning the facility altogether and resorting to open defecation which would lead to sanitation related diseases like diarrhea, and cholera. Because Kampala City is suited on a number of hills, most slum areas are located in the low-lying areas of the city. These low lying areas where formally swamps which were encroached on by the rural urban migrants. Therefore these areas are characteristic of a very high water table, which makes the fill-up rate of pit latrines in these areas equally high. In order to solve the sanitation related problems, we came up with this technology and barrels which would enable households in these settlements afford to periodically empty their pit latrines.
Because most households in slum areas of Kampala are situated in low-lying areas with a high water table, there is thus a regular need for pit emptying services. Forever Sanitation Ltd uses the gulper and barrels to empty and transport sludge to the treatment plant. The customers pay 30,000/= ($12) per 220 liter barrel. This is affordable to the household because they would otherwise have to pay a minimum of 250,000/= ($100) per for 1,000 liters of sludge using the Cesspool truck and that is only if there is an access road to the pit latrine to be emptied. While for the same quantity of sludge emptied (1,000 liters), a Forever Sanitation Ltd customer would only pay 150,000/= ($59), and more so even less because the customers decides the number of barrels they can afford as long as our service can enable them be able to re-use the pit latrine facility. Investment Capital into this business was 1,350,000/= ($540), and for each barrel that we empty a customer pays 30,000/= ($12). We are using a pick-up truck with a capacity of 6 barrels meaning that for every trip we generate 180,000/= ($72. We are hiring this pick-up at a cost of 70,000/= ($28) per trip, labor and disinfectants costing a total of 45,000/= ($18). After all these expenses, Forever Sanitation Ltd is able to make a profit of 65,000/= ($26). This profit would however be up to 135,000/= ($54) per trip if Forever Sanitation Ltd owned a pick-up truck and did not have to hire. On average Forever Sanitation Ltd is able to make 2 trips a day. We also are able sell Pit Odour Killing disinfectant to customers. We buy a 20 liters jerrycan at 250,000/= ($100), and we apply each 1 liter of this disinfectant to customers pits (dissolved in to 5 liters of water) at 35,000/= ($14), meaning for every 20 liters, Forever Sanitation Ltd is able to make a profit of 450,000/= ($180). For customers who would want to have this disinfectant at their homes we sell a 20 liter jerry can at 300,000/= ($120) making a profit of 50,000/= ($20).
Since we started operations in May 2013, we have served 350 customers for pit emptying alone emptying 2,595 barrels, accumulating to 519,000 liters of sludge emptied and enabling a total household population of 4,201 to reuse the pit latrine. We have also had 47 customers buying the Odour Killing disinfectant, With 21 buying the whole 20 liter jerry can and 26 buying a litre each, Forever Sanitation Ltd has sold 446 liters.
I have a bachelors of Arts in Social Science, with strong business acumen and an eye to spot and opportunity. My experience in business spans 6 years, i co-founded Pak-Indo (U) Ltd which deals in import and export, and i was instrument in building a network of MTN mobile money agents across the country just after the establishment of the product in the market. I started Forever Sanitation Ltd in May 2013 with a capital investment of 1,350,000/= ($540). My role at Forever Sanitation entails me to lead the Marketing and operational teams of the company.
He has a bachelors in Business Administration. His experience spans 5 years of working with start-ups and business development in various companies including Capital Radio Ltd, Crown Beverages Ltd (Pepsi Cola Uganda Franchise) and most recently Water for People -Uganda. He was instrumental in convincing me to invest in to the business under the Sanitation as a Business program and due to his skills Forever Sanitation signed him up to lead our general business strategy function which give us direction of the our business. He also liaises with key partners like regulators in sanitation.
Our team led by myself John Businge, was trained on the operation of the gulper technology and management of sanitation business. My colleague Robert Makune has extensive experience in working with start-ups and more so sanitation related business. Matayo Ategeka leads the pit emptying teams.
Funding for this Venture has ended