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Visit Mattius Millinga's home in Kigamboni and you'll notice something unusual.

Next to the house he shares with his wife Eva and their children, there's a faecal treatment plant. And the family's pond, which is surrounded by banana trees, is actually a depository for waste water.

These facilities form a vital part of Mattius' business, cleaning his community's pit latrines – a business that was made possible thanks to the support of the Stone Family Foundation, and Mattius' entrepreneurial spirit.

He used to run a rubbish-collection service in Kigamboni. But when the problem of getting rid of local waste grew too great, he decided to act, with the help of a loan from WaterAid.

Mattius, 51, stands by the waste water pond at his home in Kigamboni, Tanzania.
Mattius, 51, stands by the waste water pond at his home in Kigamboni, Tanzania.

We also supported Mattius to register his company, so he could secure the additional bank loans and microfinance he needed to grow his business.

"In the beginning people said this was bad work, because it is dirty. But it's different now. People need this service," he explains.

"Before, when a pit was full, people would dig and put it somewhere. Then, especially in the rainy season, everything comes up and there’s a bad smell. So now the people say ‘thank you, thank you’."

A growing urban dilemma

The problems facing the community of Kigamboni are far from unique.

The settlement forms part of the urban sprawl surrounding Dar es Salaam, one of the fastest growing cities in Africa, whose population is expected to grow by over 85% in the next ten years, with more than 70% of the population living in informal settlements like Kigamboni.

Many of these settlements lack infrastructure, including piped water and services such as rubbish collection. Today, less than 10% of Dar es Salaam benefits from a formal sewage system – making the work of residents like Mattius all the more vital.

Cooking with gas

Inside the family home, Eva is also benefitting from an unusual off-shoot of her husband's business.

Eva, 42, cooks with the gas which is produced after the community’s waste has been treated.
Eva, 42, cooks with the gas produced after the community's waste has been treated.

The gas she cooks with is a by-product of the faecal treatment plant, and is piped into the house after the sludge from the pit latrines has been treated in the building outside.

"My friends think the gas is wonderful," she says. "At first they were suspicious. They thought that faeces would come out of the pipe, not gas, and they were worried about the smell. But there is no smell.

"It takes such a short time to cook and saves me time. I am a tailor, and it means I can do other work. I save a lot of money too.

"I used to think my husband's business was very strange, unique, but now I see there are benefits and I can appreciate it!"

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