Business, Economics and Jobs

Eco-Musician in Mozambique


Feliciano dos Santos speaking to a community about sanitation. (Photo: John Antonelli, Courtesy of the Goldman Environmental Prize)

Feliciano Dos Santos is known as the Elton John of Mozambique. And music critics hail Dos Santos' Band, Massukos, as the next Buena Vista Social Club. Their new CD is called 'Bumping.'

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Feliciano Dos Santos comes from Niassa Province in Northern Mozambique. There are few places on the planet so impoverished. The province is about the size of New England, yet it has only 100 miles of paved roads.

"Five or seven years ago Mozambique was considered the poorest country in the world, so you have to imagine what kind of life we had. But with the hope; we survive with the hope. So for this reason I'm here today," says Dos Santos.

The day we spoke with Dos Santos he was in Washington D.C. to pick up his Goldman Environmental Prize. It's considered the Green Nobel. The Prize is awarded annually to seven winners. Each receives 150 thousand dollars for grass roots environmental work. Dos Santos won for improving hygiene and sanitation in Mozambique.

The African nation was devastated by 19 years of civil war, and sanitary facilities and clean water were almost non-existent. As a boy Dos Santos got polio because of the poor conditions. It left him with a limp. But despite his handicap he went on to start his band, and create Estamos, a public health organization dedicated to bringing clean water to remote villages in Mozambique, and building what he calls Eco-San Latrines. These latrines, with the use of ash, create fertilizer that is used on crops.

Dos Santos has a song about the Eco-San Latrines. He says, "Music say that mothers listen to me, community listen to me – improve the latrine, huh? It's so beautiful. It's easy to clean and easy to build, so use it; it's good."

Hosted by Steve Curwood, "Living on Earth" is an award-winning environmental news program that delves into the leading issues affecting the world we inhabit. More "Living on Earth.

PRI's coverage of social entrepreneurship is supported by the Skoll Foundation.