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| Last Updated:26/03/2014

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Tanzania: Sanitation MDG in Sight, Thanks to Plastic Latrine Slab, 23 March 2014


New Delhi — THE prospects of meeting the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) on sanitation could soon be in sight, with the coming of a low cost technology plastic latrine slab that will in time replace the concrete one.


Speaking exclusively with the 'Sunday News,' the Silafrica Chief Sales and Marketing Officer, Mr Alpesh Patel said that the new technology dubbed 'AIM Toilet' is bound to make headlines on the continent, because it is a 'do it yourself' product that doesn't require additional costs for masons.


"We are officially launching this new product in Kenya on April 1, this year then do the same in Tanzania. The machines and mouldings are already in place and so we are ready to go," he said.


According to a 2010 brief policy document by Water Aid, data from UNICEF/WHO - Joint Monitoring Programme for water supply and sanitation shows that the coverage of improved latrine in Tanzania stands at just 24 per cent.


Sanitation, particularly toilet construction, has been treated as a household issue and not a public good, although the public health benefits of universal coverage are considerable. Individual latrine construction or onsite sanitation has remained a solution for excreta disposal for more than 80 per cent of households.


The costs of constructing and upgrading latrines are high, especially for the poorest Tanzanians. Silafrica known in Tanzania as Simba Plastic Ltd is renowned in many parts of the country for being the first company to be involved in plastics and introduced SimTanks as well as the selling of Speedo and AIM pens.


Mr Patel said that unlike the conventional concrete that requires one to construct another after the pit latrine is filled needing one to move to another location, with the plastic slab, one just needs to pluck it off and can be reused continuously.


He said that the low cost technology has been designed in such a way that it needs minimal maintenance by cleaning it and is made of reinforced plastic that can withstand heavy weight and vandalism.


"There are other plastic slabs available but ours has the advantage of not having pins making everything detachable. The handle of the lip if lost can easily be replaced by any empty water bottle," he explained.


The product requires two slabs of wood underneath it for support, should be fitted on a 3 by 4 by 10 feet pit where the small slab will cost 15 US Dollars and the big one will sell at 25 US Dollars.


In Tanzania, they will be sold alongside SimTanks due to the existing dealer infrastructure. Michael Momanyi told this paper that the new plastic slap products designs are based on in-depth consumer affordability, durability, cleanliness and ease of use.


Mr Momanyi said that once an unknown quantity, Kenya's nascent on site sanitation market is now seen as a major opportunity and that the market for latrine slabs alone is projected to achieve 19 million US Dollars (approximately 1.6 billion Kenya Shillings) in 2014.


"While improved sanitation coverage has experienced a modest 5 per cent gain in the last 20 years, current market trends suggest an uptick in coverage increase over the short term," he said.


According to the Kenya Onsite Sanitation Market Intelligence October 2013 report, the projected sales of latrine slabs in terms of households is 626,800 and projected plastic product revenue by 2017 is 8.2 million US Dollars (698 million Kenya Shillings).


The World Bank Group's Selling Sanitation initiative is supporting the private sector to understand the opportunity and identity viable market entry strategies.


The Sulabh International Social Service Organisation Founder, Dr Bindeshwar Pathak told this paper that after being in the sanitation field for almost four decades, the organisation had developed a model that can help meet the MDG on sanitation.


Dr Pathak said that using his twin pit latrine that doesn't require it to be connected to the sceptic tank and doesn't need frequent pumping of the waste, the questions of the day can be answered.


"In 1968, I was 'pregnant' with a child and I delivered it in 1970 and have been committed to it by mind, body and soul and that child is Sulabh. Like women deliver children, men deliver ideas.


I have brought this child up, now it is the duty of the government to partner with NGOs that are committed to use and modify the model to their liking to other regions, Sulabh cannot be physically everywhere," he explained.


The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation's Water, Sanitation and Hygiene programme has organised a fair dubbed 'Reinvent the Toilet Fair 2014' that focuses on the development of tools and technologies that can lead to radical and sustainable improvements in sanitation in the developing world.


The need for better sanitation in the developing world is clear. Forty per cent of the world's population--2.5 billion people--practice open defecation or lack adequate sanitation facilities and the consequences can be devastating for human health as well as the environment.


Even in urban areas, where household and communal toilets are more prevalent, 2.1 billion people use toilets connected to septic tanks that are not safely emptied or use other systems that discharge raw sewage into open drains or surface waters.