Who Gives A Crap? Sanitation, Energy and Entrepreneurship in Kenya
Monday, May 23, 2011
By Elmira Bayrasli
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology is a pristine place. Situated alongside Cambridge’s charming Charles River, adorned with manicured lawns, sleek and light buildings designed by I.M. Pei and awesome abstract sculptures by Alexander Calder, Henry Moore and Picasso, the prestigious center of higher learning and home to 76 Nobel prizes prompts one to straighten his or her posture and fold out any sartorial creases. Only plaid and proper dwell on these highbrow grounds. Or so they did until a group of students from MIT’s business, architecture and engineering schools recently threw open the toilet.
The toilet they threw open is Sanergy, a year-old for-profit social enterprise that manufactures high-quality, yet low-cost and compact toilets for urban slums in the developing world and then uses human waste to produce energy and fertilizer. It is an “affordable, accessible and hygienic sanitation” solution for millions that live in places without sewage or electricity. They are places where the street is the bathroom. And that’s precisely the problem.