Digital toilets sanitise urban slums

Fresh Life Toilets
Kenya (Nairobi)

Access to toilets is one of the biggest issues in the developing world. As millions of slum dwellers don’t have access to the fundamental human right of good sanitation, a team of MIT graduates have devised a sustainable solution to make hygiene affordable and accessible – and an alternative to pay-per-use pits.

Starting in Kenya, startup Sanergy built a franchise network of clean, containerised toilets run by local micro-entrepreneurs. The community is engaged with running the Fresh Life Toilets at every step, with waste separated to make organic fertiliser, instead of polluting waterways.

The success stories of Fresh Life Operators, from being able to afford educations to expanding franchises, are spurring on the ‘digital toilet’ model to be replicated within other urban slums. There are currently 3,379 active Fresh Life Toilets in informal settlements, with 119,918 daily uses from community members now with access to affordable hygienic sanitation and over 250 employees, 60% of whom live in the communities they serve.

By the end of 2020, they plan to have an active network of 4,900 Fresh Life Toilets that will serve approximately 36% of the population – 200,000 people in Mukuru.

AtlasAction: Volunteer in remote with Fresh Life Toilets.

Fresh Life Toilets was mapped by renegade economist Kate Raworth in her AtlasChart Top 3. Caution: contains an economics puppet rap battle!

Written by

Lisa Goldapple, Editor, Atlas of the Future (28 July 2020)

Project leader

David Auerbac, Co-founder, Sanergy

Kids washing their hands at Reuben school, Mukuru, Nairobi, Kenya

Sanergy Fresh life new design toilets at the Sanergy assembly compound in Mukuru area of Nairobi, Kenya

Creative Commons License



  1. Ann Sabania

    I am interested how we can have a school program for providing sanitary toilets

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