About 2.6 billion people lack access to adequate sanitation, including more than 10 million in Kenya’s densely populated urban slums. Given the lack of critical infrastructure, slum dwellers go to the bathroom in holes in the ground surrounded by primitive sheds that are shared by up to 150 people. These “pit latrines” are typically constructed with foreign aid, but funding to maintain them is lacking, and so they often fall into disrepair. As a result, many people resort to open defecation, which contaminates drinking water.
What is needed to tackle this sanitation crisis is a new model that addresses the entire sanitation value chain — the processes involved in producing a good or providing a service — and that doesn’t rely on donor funding, according to two second-year students at the MIT Sloan School of Management. David Auerbach and Ani Vallabhaneni have developed such a model as co-founders of Sanergy, a company that seeks to improve sanitation conditions while simultaneously creating jobs and profit. Their model proposes to create a sustainable sanitation cycle that has significant positive environmental, health, economic and social impacts.