PARTY! The first toilet in Tanzania has been opened!

Beyond the toilet – Let’s uncover part of the bigger story the project is involved with

In 2013, February, our team met, Johnny Viktar aka CTN. He was introduced to us by Phast Ujenzi (sanitation group). About 40 years old, well built and smiling warmly at us, he owns a house on the lower parts of Keko Machungwa, a fish pond and plans to have poultry soon. He wants to sell the fish from the pond, the chicken and ducks, for additional income and extending activities.

Accessing his plot is an adventure; leave the main street of Keko Machungwa and loose yourself in the one-person-narrow pathways leading you down to the river (tiny creek with unsanitary water). His house stands along that river to the west side, a garden to the north and east, making it one of the biggest plots in the area. It is here that we intend to start the project – Phast Ujenzi would use part of the space for gardening and testing urine and the Pilot toilet will be built to provide the urine and compost.

The walls of his house are humid and the floor almost wet. Nevertheless CTN created here a place of hope. A few years ago he started the “Keko machungwa youth center”, a place where young – mostly male – drug addicts can get away and start afresh by executing small day to day jobs and living in a community. Some live under his roof, some come for the day, CTN protects and helps them – solve issues, find jobs, get involved in the larger community life.

Before CTN started the youth center he was himself a drug user, someone helped him out and today he wants “to help the youth the same way I have been helped”.

Everyone respects and knows him in the area. Walking between the houses of Keko Machungwa and Keko Juu one can hear “CTNi, mambo!”, and other warm greetings of other settlers directed towards him. He enjoys the fame and respect but one can really see why, when spending time besides him, he treats people well and respects everyone, he is soft with all but wouldn’t let anything bad happen to his boys or family, even to us from the project “if you know CTN you are safe!” said to me Chris who is now the secretary of the Youth center.

So today, Keko Machungwa youth center is part of the Tanzania federation of urban poor, more than 30 young people from the surroundings find peace in his house and he has plans to build a hostel and carpenting workshop, even a nursery. The toilet has been planned so that his vision of the future is included and the capacity over calculated for the current use, but fitting, once he expands his activities. The fact that the first toilet was built there gave the project a huge impulse as CTN is a personnality in the area but it also gave the youth centre the possibility to grow and have access to proper toilets and a shower, replacing the old pit latrine adjacent to the house. All the boys and CTN have been very involved in the construction of the toilet. They were the ones filling most of the bottles, also the ones finishing the toilet with CTN and Peter once I had left (May) and now they are the ones using it!

CTN’s involvement went beyond expectations; he is a carpenter and full of energy and ideas and even thought not part of Phast Ujenzi his work and ideas have a big impact on the whole project. When the toilet was completed in the end of May, he spent many days, almost every day working on it and making it his. Adding doors made of bottles and sticks, adding a rail, covering the inside of the toilet and adapting it to his own comfort.

The bottle doors were a great surprise and actually showed me once again how much creative potential there is in Keko! His “invention” of the bottle door was so exciting and its price so interesting we decided to include the technique into the wall structure options for the future toilets.

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Photos by Zita Floret.

  1. CTN in red shirt.
  2. CTN in the centre with the boys of the youth center in the back.
  3. CTN and Zita by the toilet.
  4. CTN’s plot.
  5. Bottle doors to become a new wall structure for the next toilets (cheap!!!)

AN INAUGURATION – A festivity, a party!

More than 250 people made their way through the narrow paths of Keko Machungwa that day. A DJ playing music, dancers, acrobats, a master of ceremony, speeches, dances and performances animated the event all along! It was a real show and many people and kids started from Keko Machungwa and Keko Juu gradually accumulated by the tents to try to see the performances and listen to the speeches.

All came invited or attracted by the noise and abnormal amount of people from outside to see a project that has been great and will certainly have an even greater impact in the near future! All federations in Dar es Salaam were represented, the Pilot is now in these people’s minds, maybe fermenting into more plans or waiting to be able to build a similar one.

The Vice Mayor of Temeke and other officials from the ward and sub-ward were also present allowing the dialogue between the federation’s actions and authorities to follow their course. Mr. Vice Mayor was very pleased with the project and even offered me “Keko citizenship”.

Direct stakeholders, future stakeholders but also the media were very present! I was amazed! At first I saw one TV crew, then came another and then another one and while being completely amazed and even crying out of joy I realized my friend Frank working at TV1 was on his way as well. 4 TVs, 2 newspapers and 2 radios covered the event. Few days later Hezron (CCI) told me it seemed the info was all over the news!

Overall we got excellent feedback and comments from other federation members and authorities, even from some of the TV crews! Everyone sounds very proud and confident that the project, if taken to a larger scale can really change things in Dar es Salaam.

People are very hopeful and happy about the ideas and technologies used on the toilet. Ndimbwelu, the leader of Vingunguti’s sanitation group (next group to be part of the project) was impatient to start building with the bottles and use urine as a fertilizer.

Thank you Phast Ujenzi, Hezron, Tim and CTN, Kokwa productions, Peter, Stella and boys of the youth centre for the great Pilot and event.

We all worked very hard and now we are on the road for 18 more.

– Zita Floret

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The writer is a student in Aalto University and is working as an Construction Artist in a Global Dry Toilet Association’s Tanzanian project. She has designed the first toilet opened in Tanzania in June.

Visit our project official pages: (in Finnish) (in English).

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