Ready, Set, EMPTY! Pit Latrine Emptying Skills Challenge in Lusaka

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Ready, Set, EMPTY! Pit Latrine Emptying Skills Challenge in Lusaka

Ready, Set, EMPTY! Pit Latrine Emptying Skills Challenge in Lusaka

At the 8th Zambia Water Forum and Exhibition (ZAWAFE) on 11th-12th June 2019 in Lusaka, a very engaging Skills Challenge was conducted with 28 contestants from 14 different Zambian water and sanitation utilities. After two international Skills Challenges at FSM4 and FSM5 (Faecal Sludge Management) conferences, the GIZ sector programme sustainable sanitation (SV NaSa), the GIZ programme Climate friendly sanitation services in peri-urban areas of Lusaka (CFS), together with BORDA, the Sustainable Sanitation Alliance (SuSanA) and the Faecal Sludge Management Alliance (FSMA) now organised a national Skills Challenge with utilities from all over Zambia.

The challenge was to empty a mock pit latrine filled with simulated pit sludge, then transport it safely to a designated location. The teams had to demonstrate the proper use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and hygiene practices while emptying the pits and delivering the contents as efficient as possible. Participants had to master obstacles that occur in the daily operations, such as (fake) poisonous snakes, and steering the wheelbarrow through bumpy and narrow paths. All this under time pressure competing with other teams and the possibility to gain or lose points in the final scoring.

The winning team was the Chazanga Emptier Team from Lusaka Water and Sanitation Company (LWSC). The Minister of Water Development, Sanitation and Environmental Protection (MWDSEP) handed out all the awards to the emptiers during the award ceremony. This was an excellent level of recognition for the emptiers and a great signal from the Minister.

The aim of the challenge is to inspire professionals to demonstrate their skills and show the limitations and requirements of their daily work life to sector stakeholders. The challenge is not only of notable educational value in raising awareness of safe, effective and efficient pit emptying practices, it also aims to elevate the profile and visibility of the pit latrine emptying profession by actively demonstrating the importance and value of the work as essential for maintaining healthy living environments. This in turn aims to instil a sense of recognition, motivation and empowerment in competitors and underline the need for more qualified professionals in the field.

Text written by Trevor Surridge, Mintje Büürma and Franziska Volk (GIZ/SuSanA Secretariat)


Pit emptiers in action.


The Director of Water Supply and Sanitation, the Chairperson of ZAWAFE and the acting Permanent Secretary were standing alongside the Minister during the awards ceremony to congratulate every one of the 28 emptiers.


The 28 Skills Challenge contestants united.

Posted by a member of the SuSanA secretariat held by the GIZ Sustainable sanitation sector program
Located at Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, Eschborn, Germany
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Re: Ready, Set, EMPTY! Pit Latrine Emptying Skills Challenge in Lusaka

Interesting idea.
I am just wondering what the mock pit latrine contained, i.e. how did you make up the simulated pit sludge? Is there a "standard recipe" that is used worldwide for this? Does it contain any solid waste or just a slurry of manure for example. It's the variety of solid waste and the foul odour that make it such a difficult and upleasant job...

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Re: Ready, Set, EMPTY! Pit Latrine Emptying Skills Challenge in Lusaka

@ Elizabeth
The mock pit latrine sludge contained all solid waste materials that could be found in pit latrines in Lusaka and these include plastics, bottles, hair weaves, metal cans, nappies, diapers, etc
The materials were blended in a slurry of compost with the use of a concrete mixer.
The solid waste is what makes the job very unpleasant. Some pits are very thick because of the solid waste and makes almost all the mechanical pit emptying equipment to fail.Limited solid waste quantification in pits revealed a wet solid waste content of 150 kg per cubic meter of emptied sludge. Therefore, only manual pit emptying technologies have a 100 percent success rates

Aubrey
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Re: Ready, Set, EMPTY! Pit Latrine Emptying Skills Challenge in Lusaka

Hi Aubrey,

Welcome to the SuSanA Discussion Forum! About the solid waste, has your organization ever tried to get people to dispose their solid waste separately from the excreta, i.e. not in the pit latrine but elsewhere? Is this something that could work or not possible? Would we have to dig a second pit that is only for solid waste, versus the pit (sealed with a SaTo pan maybe) that is used for the pit latrine? (See also this related thread: forum.susana.org/sato-pan-latrine-with-c...w-into-a-pit-latrine )

Also you said it's the solid waste that makes the job unpleasant. I am assuming in addition to that it's also the smell that makes it unpleasant plus the danger of disease transmission (two factors which you couldn't (and wouldn't want to) replicate with the mock pit latrine sludge).

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Elisabeth

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Re: Ready, Set, EMPTY! Pit Latrine Emptying Skills Challenge in Lusaka

hello all,

I have been in Lusaka when we (LCC, LWSC, GIZ, ...) had field trials emptying pit latrines in Lusaka's high density, low income compounds (peri-urban as they call it) in 2017, testing the gulper, eVac and FlexCravator and noticed the problems all pumps had with the solid waste and especially with the plastic bags mixed in the sludge. This is why Aubrey says, only manual emptying (using long handle rakes and buckets) can deal with that.

Lusaka City Council (LCC) has a system of solid waste collection which should help that people do not use their latrine pits as solid waste dumps: community based enterprises (CBE) are subcontracted by LCC to collect waste from the households and accumulate it in a central place of the compound from where LCC should transport it to the municipal waste dump.

The system works only to a small extend. The problems are: LCC does not have enough capacity collecting the waste from all compounds regularly, the waste accumulates in the central place in the compound, the CBEs get frustrated and reduce collecting, the customers stop paying because waste is not collected regularly, the CBEs stop collection completely.

Having noticed this vicious circle having its cause in the LCC's low collection capacity, we initiated in LCC the discussion that the Lusaka Sanitation Program funded with about 300 mio USD from donors should divert some funds to LCC improving their collection capacities. A project proposal was developed and costed (3 mio USD, i.e. 1% of the program budget). In first discussions between LCC, Lusaka Water & Sanitation (LWSC) and the Banks, the initiative was judged positively. I then left LCC and Zambia, but maybe Aubrey can find out what happened to this proposal.

Enabling LCC to collect the solid waste from the compounds regularly would definitely reduce the amount of solid waste getting into latrine pits. And once a working solid waste management exists, LCC has the right enforcing the use of this system and punish the misuse of latrine pits as solid waste dumps.

ciao
Hajo

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Re: Ready, Set, EMPTY! Pit Latrine Emptying Skills Challenge in Lusaka

Hi Elizabeth,

The presence of solid waste in pits in Zambia comes from a long history of pit relocation and the lack of solid waste management services in unplanned settlements. Households from the past 15-20 years in unplanned settlements used to have adequate land around them to dig a new pit whenever an old one filled up and due to the lack of municipal services such as solid waste collection they developed trends of throwing solid waste in their pits as it would be buried together with the faecal waste when they abandoned the latrine.
With the increase in population and division and further sub-division of plots making for households to construct new houses made scarce land for new toilets and preventing the abandonment of latrines which meant that pits will have to be reused after filling and emptying. However, people still continued the practice of throwing rubbish in pits and to increase the life span of latrines, residents would dig pits as deep as they could until they either reached a rock which they could not break or the water level they came across was too much for them to dig in. In 2013, we conducted a little survey on the lifespan of pits and the information we obtained was that some pits lasted more than 15 years before the first filling up . The average filling up time was 8 years for the pits being emptied for the first time whilst those being emptied for the second or more times have a filling rate of about three years.

To prevent people from throwing solid waste in the pits, lots of interventions are underway including introduction of the sato-pans in newly constructed toilets but we what we have to understand from the story above is that the solid waste in most pits is from a long time of bad practice which has been assimilated by the residents especially on the bad context of " what I cant see cannot affect me". This concept is slowly being challenged by sensitization messages carried out by the pit emptiers on households that they find with solid waste in their sludge. The lack of solid waste management services coupled with extra space around the household for digging a pit for solid waste disposal is however challenging interventions aimed at preventing households from disposing the solid waste in the pits. The fact that pit emptiers also carry the emptied solid waste together with the sludge is cheaper for the households continue to disposing the waste in the pit hence measures are under discussion to charge more for solid waste that is found in the pits so that households can be discouraged.

You are right that the smell makes the job unpleasant but I meant to say that the solid waste makes it very difficult to effectively remove the sludge from the pits. The sludge cannot be easily scooped from the latrines making the pit emptiers break latrine side walls most of the times to make it easy for them to scoop the sludge. Hajo mentioned the challenges that successful pit emptying equipment elsewhere faced with pit latrine sludge from Lusaka. The now constructed toilets for households in the peri-urban settlements are having interfaces which would make it very difficult for anyone to throw or flush solid waste materials in them. But the success of this intervention will much rest on the success of solid waste collection services otherwise only preventing them from throwing waste in the pits without providing collection services will activate Newtons third law "Action and Reaction are equal and opposite". Therefore the opposite reaction needs to be altered with reliable services. Here is a link to the video with some clips of how challenging emptying a pit latrine could be in Lusaka.



@ Hajo On the relocation of funds to capacitate LCC in solid waste collection, so far the people I have contacted from LCC and LSP have expressed lack of knowledge on the matter so I had written to some people from the banks. I will update you as soon as they respond but I assume they are quite cautious on releasing information which they have not yet concluded on.

Regards,
Aubrey
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Re: Ready, Set, EMPTY! Pit Latrine Emptying Skills Challenge in Lusaka

Dear Aubrey,
Thanks for your informative post! That's a good video which shows practical aspects of pity emptying in Lusaka. Who provides the video? I see the Youtube channel is called "Climate friendly sanitation". Is that by BORDA or GIZ? I see that channel has quite a few videos but low view rates (maybe they haven't been advertised enough? Who were they made for?). Just wondering.

Also you said: "The sludge cannot be easily scooped from the latrines making the pit emptiers break latrine side walls most of the times to make it easy for them to scoop the sludge." This is also shown in the video. Is this a problem or can they easily repair the side wall of the pit afterwards?

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Re: Ready, Set, EMPTY! Pit Latrine Emptying Skills Challenge in Lusaka

Hi Aubrey

My name is Norma from South Africa. Just wish to know what do you do with the sludge afterwards. Pity I cant retrieve the video.
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Re: Ready, Set, EMPTY! Pit Latrine Emptying Skills Challenge in Lusaka

Dear Elisabeth,

The videos were made by the GIZ climate friendly sanitation in Peri-urban areas of Lusaka. They were developed as part of training tools during the development of OSS curriculum for faecal sludge service providers. Therefore, we always use them during training especially with new trainees in faecal sludge management.

As for the toilet walls, they are always sealed back when the emptying is finished. The link bellows shows the manual pit emptying steps and step number 7 shows the sealing of the hole after emptying



Pit emptying is not done if the toilet is assessed to be irreparable after emptying or it posses a hazard of collapsing during or after emptying. And currently, the ministry responsible for water and sanitation with help form various stakeholders such as GIZ, BORDA, WSUP, SNV etc are developing a statutory instrument for on-site sanitation and this will compel households to own standard facilities which are safe for both the users and the environment and safe for emptying too

@Norma,
The sludge is sold as soil conditioner after treatment (done through anaerobic stabilisation in biogas digesters and drying in sludge drying beds). The Lusaka sanitation project is currently looking at other safe sludge reuse potentials that will enhance sustainability in the faecal sludge service business.
Pity could not retrieve the video. You can access it through the link below.



Kind regards,
Aubrey
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