Sanergy Inc. Service Delivery
Sanergy is a Kenya-based social enterprise sanitation provider looking to leverage mobile technology towards improving access to sanitation for underserved communities. Their mission is to make hygienic sanitation affordable and accessible for everyone in urban informal settlements. Over the last three years, Sanergy has developed an innovative systems-based approach to build out the entire sanitation value chain. Sanergy builds sanitation facilities, franchise them to entrepreneurs, who run them as small businesses, collect the waste, remove it from the community and convert it to useful by-products, including organic fertilizer.
SweetSense has partnered with Sanergy to design and deploy cellular enabled data collection system for the Sanergy Fresh Life Toilet franchise network’ in Mukuru, Nairobi, with the aim of improving the efficiency of their Waste Collection Teams and ensuring greater access to sanitation facilities for users. The GSM technology is integrated directly into the Sanergy solid waste receptacles and the data used in the sanitation value chain. The SweetSense platform monitors the following parameters – a.) Each use of the latrine, b.) the approximate fill level of the waste receptacle, c.) The GPS location of the latrine. Via GSM, the system notifies an online dashboard when a waste receptacle requires servicing. The online dashboard allows manual and automatic notification of the appropriate technician.
Sanitation Health Impact Studies
Measuring use of sanitation services in developing countries, including India and Bangladesh where open defecation is a cultural norm in rural areas, has historically been challenging. Numerous studies have shown a respondent bias, and structured observations, previously the gold standard approach, have now been demonstrated to be highly reactive. Therefore, improved, objective utilization methods are required. In the past several years, my contribution has been the supply and analysis of data generated from electronic movement sensors installed in latrines, across five controlled health impact studies in India and Bangladesh.
In one recent study in Bangladesh, our instruments demonstrated a significant over-reporting of latrine utilization. Across 1207 households randomly selected from 52 village committees in Bangladesh, the mean 4-day self reported latrine use was 32.8, while our sensor analysis suggested 21.7 uses on average, indicating more than 50% exaggeration of latrine use. At the low end of the regression model, the intercept suggests that many households report using latrines when in fact no use is detected (Delea et al., 2015).
This exaggerated self-reported use raises serious questions about the accuracy of self-reported data often used for policy and programmatic decision-making. Critically, the metrics used by program funders and implementers must at minimum narrow the gap between inputs and impact. While use may not be a sufficient measure, it is clear that it is coverage alone is insufficient. Electronic sensors may improve the objectivity of latrine use measurement, and enable more continuous monitoring.
Electronic sensors have demonstrated the inadequacy of previously standard methods for evaluating sanitation service utilization. Likewise, latrine coverage has been demonstrated as an insufficient measurement of sanitation impact. The data collected to-date across thousands of households in at least five rigorously designed epidemiological investigations may enable a robust meta-analysis of user utilization of sanitation services.
Delea, M., Freeman, M., Halder, A., White, Z., Thomas, E., Clasen T. (2015). An Assessment of Latrine Coverage and Use Under BRAC’s WASH II Project in Bangaldesh. Report to the Gates Foundation, 2015.