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African Entrepreneurs Promote Clean Toilets, Hygiene

The Fifth World Water Forum is being held this week in Istanbul, Turkey. The forum highlights solutions to global water problems leading up to International World Water Day on March 22.

Two African entrepreneurs say they are transforming the way communities are solving water sanitation problems. Trevor Mulaudzi and David Kuria, who recently spoke in Washington, DC, outlined projects they say help shift social behavior and promote personal hygiene in developing areas of South Africa and Kenya.

In Nairobi's biggest slum, there are rivers of sewage and filthy, disease-carrying drinking water. And in many African communities, basic sanitary facilities are in short supply.

The non-profit organization Water Advocates says that 2.6 billion people do not have access to clean toilets.

South African businessman Trevor Mulaudzi, who is seen in his video, says his company, The Clean Shop, works to solve this problem.

Mulaudzi and another entrepreneur, David Kuria, explained their work at the National Press Club in Washington. "You can't have good sustainable sanitation without having a clean toilet first," Muladzi said.

Mulaudzi once found South African school children on the streets, searching for a toilet.
Now he and his staff clean toilet facilities in South African schools. "I think it was just a calling. When God calls you to do something, you can't run away," Mulaudzi said. "You just have to do it."

They also teach children how to keep lavatories and themselves clean. Although The Clean Shop is a business, Mulaudzi says he makes little profit and he sees his effort as more of a charity. He says he has helped 15,000 children so far. "We are coming with something called the toilet revolution. We are going to teach people to appreciate a clean toilet," he said. "And we are teaching people to agree with us that a clean toilet is an achievable thing."

Like Mulaudzi, David Kuria is trying to improve sanitation in Kenya.

Kuria has built "toilet malls" called Iko toilets in Kenya's slums to provide sanitary facilities along with other services. "In Nairobi, we have started building what we call toilet monuments, where people are saying, 'What is this coming up so beautiful?' 'It's a toilet!'" Kuria said.

On a continent that often lacks clean water and toilets, Kuria attributes his company's success to its small profits and the pride people take in hygienic facilities.