This week I’ve been visiting Clean Team Ghana, a “sanitation enterprise” based in Kumasi, Ghana. I visited along with colleagues – Alison Parker and Ben Martin – from Cranfield Univeristy. Alison and Ben are involved with a Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation ‘Re-invent the Toilet’ project and they have established solid links with Clean Team.
Clean Team is engaged in the provision of sanitation services to low-income households in Ghana. They are unapologetically focused on the ‘enterprise’ aspect of sanitation; sure – it is motivated by a desire to make big change to sanitation practices, as well as an acute sensitivity to the aspirations and desires of the ‘customers’, but it is also based on the notion that the service should be economically sustainable. The system involves the provision of toilet units to households; the units look like a conventional WC but aren’t plumbed or connected to a sewer; instead, a removable container collects the faecal solids, while urine is diverted away from the collection system.
Clean Team is currently developing treatment systems for the safe disposal of the faecal solids and Cranfield University will test several bioreactor designs in situ at the municipal wastewater treatment site at Kumasi this summer.
This week, we met with the CEO and several of the team at Clean Team Ghana. We visited the Clean Team offices and the collection centre – where all of the containers (which are collected from the toilets) arrive and are combined for subsequent transport to the treatment site. The situation is not ideal, but the team knows this and is working to evolve and improve the approach and system. It’s exciting times at Clean Team!
We also visited the homes of some of Clean Team’s customers. Several people kindly allowed us to enter their homes to view their toilets and to hear about their experiences of using the system and the service. By and large, they are content with their toilets. An absolutely key element of the success of Clean Team, and of any such enterprise, will be the continue listening closely to the views, concerns and aspirations of their customers.
One of the challenges for our Transforming Waste Project in Lusaka will be to integrate our treatment processes with containment, collection and transport aspects of sanitation. I hope that there’ll be interesting opportunities for us and Clean Team to exploit together in the future.