Meet Kisumu Wife & Husband Making Up to Ksh 12,000 from Each Client by Digging Pit Latrines

For the last 18 years, Mr. Wilson Ondieki and his wife, Monica Adhiambo, have sustained their livelihood by engaging in the unconventional occupations of grave and latrine digging. In defying societal norms, enduring criticism, and even facing potential risks, they have steadfastly pursued these unconventional means of making ends meet.

The genesis of their collaboration in this unique line of work unfolded when Ms. Adhiambo brought lunch to her husband during his second day of digging a 15-foot pit latrine near their residence. Observing him working without his usual assistant, she inquired about the assistant’s absence, learning that he had prior commitments. Seizing the opportunity, Ms. Adhiambo expressed her willingness to try digging herself, suggesting that she could be a substitute assistant. Motivated by the shared goal of financial stability, Mr. Ondieki agreed to her proposition.

Ms. Adhiambo quickly adapted to the task of digging latrines, traditionally considered a male occupation. Expressing her newfound love for the job, she emphasized its role in securing her income, which she utilized for essential needs such as school fees, food, and clothing. Grateful for the financial independence it provided, she proudly declared that she no longer needed to borrow money from others.

Remarkably, Ms. Adhiambo’s proficiency in the job surpassed her husband’s, who had initially taught her the intricacies of latrine digging. Within a mere three weeks of learning, she had become adept at the craft, a fact that she joyfully highlighted.

Despite her enthusiasm, Ms. Adhiambo faced criticism, even from her own family, for choosing a traditionally male-dominated occupation. Her brother, in particular, expressed disapproval, deeming the job as shameful. However, she defended her choice, attributing it to her husband’s introduction to the job and its significant impact on her life.

The couple’s latrine-digging endeavors often involve deep excavations of up to 20 feet, with Ms. Adhiambo occasionally encountering challenges like large stones. In such instances, she turns to prayer for guidance.

Regarding the distribution of their earnings, Mr. Ondieki explained that after completing a job, the client pays, and the money is evenly shared between him and his wife. They typically charge between Ksh 500 and Ksh 600 per foot, adjusting the price occasionally based on factors such as the season and their relationship with the client.

In addition to latrine digging, the couple previously engaged in grave preparation, a lucrative but culturally sensitive occupation that they ultimately abandoned due to cultural and traditional reasons.

Ms. Adhiambo, a mother of three respected in the community, revealed her involvement in other activities, such as building houses with mud, locally known as “Rwadho ot.” She encouraged fellow women not to limit themselves to traditionally feminine roles but to explore diverse opportunities for financial independence.

Her parting message emphasized the importance of women actively seeking work and financial autonomy, cautioning against dependence on husbands for everything. Ms. Adhiambo serves as a compelling example that women can excel in unconventional occupations, demonstrating that what a man can do, a woman can do just as well, if not better.