Hello World (...or the tiny subset thereof who are Pivot Updates readers)! It's been long. We're still here, and doing great in fact. In our six months of silence we've been up to a lot! Like bringing on our new CTO, selling more fuel to more customers, making major strides in the performance of our dewatering process, raising money, and launching an effort to source fecal sludge from poor communities in Kigali, which you can read all about below.
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Over the past 4 months, with support from the Osprey Foundation and Stone Family Foundation, Pivot has established a fecal sludge sourcing team whose mission is collecting human waste from Kigali’s slums and delivering it to the Pivot Works factory for processing into fuel. The team is tasked with developing a reliable and cost-effective model for harnessing this waste in order to drive up Pivot Fuel production and drive down the public and environmental health impacts of poor sanitation in Kigali’s poor communities.
Prior to Pivot’s intervention, when pit latrines filled most families either sealed them and constructed a new one, or hired manual emptiers to excavate the pit and dump its contents into the environment – an illegal practice, of course. Illegal emptying and dumping practices are particularly common in dense informal areas, where space constraints preclude digging new latrines.
Our strategy for collecting this waste began with identifying existing emptiers in target communities and getting them bought-in to collaborating with Pivot. To improve the health and safety standard of their work, Pivot replaced street clothes and shovels with head-to-toe personal protective equipment and mechanical emptying devices (E-Vacs) for the emtyping teams. And now, instead of dumping the fecal sludge into the environment, the emptiers pump into barrels, which they bring to our transfer station.
Our working model
In the current iteration of the service model, pit emptiers work in teams to break the latrine slab, remove the trash (averaging 15% of total material by weight), and pump fecal sludge into 50-L barrels. A typical latrine yields about 50 barrels, which they carry via push-carts to a Pivot transfer station located in the community. Once the transfer station fills, Pivot collects the barrels of sludge and transports them to their factory.