The beginning of our second week in Sierra Leone has been spent out in the field again, speaking with local villagers in Tongo, Lower Bambarra. This has been an invaluable exercise for us all, and it has also enabled us to see a lot more of rural Sierra Leone than we thought we would. The multiple site visits have served two purposes, firstly to speak with people who have purchased Alafia latrines, and see the latrines and superstructures in their different stages of production.
The second purpose was to speak with villagers that are part of a local Village Savings and Loan consortium (VSL) in Joru, Lower Bambarra. Members of the VSL set aside a portion of their savings into a group savings box, with the contents of the box being lent to individual villagers. This year, the villagers in Joru are focusing on buying more Alafia latrines, and purchasing zinc roofs for their homes, instead of the traditional thatch roofs. We all agreed that this was an interesting model that could help ensure that more Alafia latrines get out into rural areas quicker, but we all had concerns about the rate of interest charged to borrowers.
As I write this, we are currently finalising our overall findings, and are due for calls with the GOAL Dublin staff later this week. This process has been an incredibly valuable learning experience for us as we put theory into practice. We’ve examined the current business model, and have made suggestions throughout the value chain for incremental improvements that will hopefully make a real difference to the rollout of Alafia latrines. More updates next week…
(Photos courtesy of Daniel Baker, MBA)