Suffolk firm set to help thousands
WITNESSING three million poverty-stricken people living in squalid conditions was worlds away from a normal day for businessman Nick Ferguson.But what Mr Ferguson saw in some of the poorest developing countries forced him into action.
WITNESSING three million poverty-stricken people living in squalid conditions was worlds away from a normal day for businessman Nick Ferguson.
But what Mr Ferguson saw in some of the poorest developing countries forced him into action.
A frequent visitor to Africa, he saw hundreds of people in the Angolan capital Luandasharing a crumbling hole in the ground for sanitation purposes.
Appalled by this, Mr Ferguson set about manufacturing a waterless toilet system aimed at destroying harmful bacteria and reducing the spread of infections.
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Now the four-man company, Nick Ferguson Associates, of Bures, near Sudbury, has teamed up with west Yorkshire-based Invicta West to create more than 5,500 toilets for Kenya and Angola.
Talking about the £1.3 million project, the company director said: "My trips to Africa had a profound affect on me.
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"Angola has awful problems – roads are non-existent. In Luanda, there were squatter camps with three million people living without water or any form of sanitation.
"Sanitation is not the only problem – water is sold at ever increasing small quantities for ever increasing amounts of money."
Mr Ferguson said he came up with the idea of the HIPPOwaterless toilet system a few years ago on one of his many trips.
"The biggest problem these countries have is that there is no sanitation," he added. "All they actually have is a hole in the ground. These are completely inadequate as when there is rain, the well just collapses.
"Using such facilities means there is continuous infection and re-infection while the land is a breeding ground for mosquitoes.
"The need for utilities such as our waterless toilet system is great. The HIPPO system is the cheapest means for them to improve the sanitation standards and reduce the risk of disease. Each toilet costs $150 and caters for ten people."
The system utilises a natural biological process to break down human waste into a dehydrated odourless compost-like material.
The company estimates 12 per cent of waste will turn into moisture and can either be burnt or used as fertiliser.
The process destroys most harmful bacteria while protecting wells and helping to reduce the spread of infections.
Mr Ferguson's trips to Angola and Kenyan capital Nairobi were funded by the UK Trade & Investment's Passport to Export programme while he also received advice on market research from Business Link Suffolk.
His company specialises in advising UK companies on international expansion and accesses European Union grants to explore joint ventures and investment opportunities in Africa.