Collaborating for Change: Pit Vidura's Journey with Regional Practitioners and International Academic Researchers


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Collaborating for Change: Pit Vidura's Journey with Regional Practitioners and International Academic Researchers

Collaborating for Change: Pit Vidura's Journey with Regional Practitioners and International Academic Researchers
As an organization that is on the ground addressing the sanitation crisis every day, we’ve learned some critical lessons about the importance of collaboration in achieving change. As the world continues to urbanize, the challenges of fecal waste management in dense urban areas continue to grow.  Exchanging knowledge with other regional practitioners as well as academic researchers has become essential in our mission to serve our communities and confront the sanitation crisis on a broader scale. 

In 2022, Pit Vidura initiated collaborations with fellow practitioners and academic researchers. Our first collaboration was with Forever Sanitation Ltd, a fecal sludge collection and transportation company that primarily serves low-income communities in Kampala. The goal was to learn from their experiences in serving hard-to-reach areas, including their emptying process and other challenges. Additionally, we recruited a Ph.D. student from the University of Leeds, who came to support our R&D department in capacity building. This support enabled Pit Vidura to share our learnings through blog posts and research papers. Moreover, we've compiled data on our business operations, and it's accessible to anyone interested. We also recently created a YouTube channel with informative videos on virtually every part of our work.

Field visit of Pit Vidura R&D lead at Forever Sanitation work site. From left to right: John Businge — Forever Sanitation Managing Director, Katende Latif — Pit emptier, Kawasaki Arafah — Pit Emptier, and Bruce Rutayisire — Pit Vidura R&D Lead.

Our relationships with other service providers have led us to identify areas in need of improvement. We learned that minimum emptying volumes exclude hard-to-serve customers but are commercially necessary. Based on the charging system used by Forever Sanitation Ltd, it is possible to make the service more inclusive by introducing a per-barrel pricing model (8 USD per 160-liter barrel emptied) rather than a fixed volume model. In turn, during Pit Vidura’s visit to Kampala, we trained John Businge from Forever Sanitation to collect time and motion data, customer satisfaction data, and financial records using online tools, namely Kobo, installed on a smartphone. Internally, this data will help John to monitor the efficiency of his services electronically, eliminating the risks and challenges of paper recordkeeping. It also allows for comparative analysis so our businesses can learn from one another and continue to improve.

Our collaboration with academic researchers has also been invaluable to our progress. Since Jonathan – a Ph.D. student from the University of Leeds – joined Pit Vidura, he has trained our local team on the process of preparing a research study, including mind mapping what we want to share, ensuring it aligns with the audience we are targeting, creating an outline, and identifying fellow researchers for review and collaboration purposes. With his support, one comparative paper with Forever Sanitation has been submitted for review and two are scheduled to be submitted for review this August – a record since the founding of our Research & Development department. 

R&D team working on comparative analysis project. From left to right: Bruce Rutayisire Pit Vidura R&D Lead, Jonathan Wilcox  — Consulting R&D Manager / Ph.D. student at the University of Leeds, UK.

To strengthen our collaboration with other researchers and practitioners, we have prepared our business data and we are ready to share it with potential partners, inviting further collaboration. The data set includes processes we use and their durations, performance of our technologies, routing data for our exhauster trucks, financials, customer satisfaction, facility evaluation data, and more. If you’re interested in working with us and would like more information, please reach out to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

In summary, our journey addressing the sanitation crisis underscores collaboration's vital role. These partnerships led to identifying areas for improvement, sharing insights and failures, enhancing service efficiency, and significantly increasing our research output. Moreover, by open-sourcing our business data, we've expanded collaboration opportunities. We urge everyone in the sanitation sector to seek partnerships and share knowledge, recognizing collaboration as essential for progress.
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