Sanitation Partnerships: Bringing Pit Emptying Out of the Darkness

Author: Eales, K.

Year: 2005

Publisher: Building Partnerships for Development (BPD), Water and Sanitation for the Urban Poor (WSUP), UK

This case study presents two approaches to manual pit emptying to highlight some problems and possibilities in this badly neglected area of service provision. In Kibera, a vast informal settlement in Kenya’s capital city, Nairobi, manual pit emptiers work inside pits at night by torch-light, without protective clothing, using rented basic equipment, subject to abuse and stigmatization, and dependent for jobs on agents of the landlords; the waste is commonly disposed of by dumping it into the settlement’s streams. By contrast, city management in Durban, South Africa, is experimenting with a small contractor development-cum -franchise model for manual pit emptying: sub-contractors will employ teams of wage labourers who enjoy the protection of the law, and who work in daylight with long-handled shovels, heavy gloves and gumboots, transferring pit waste from drums to specially modified waste skips, where it is screened before being disposed of safely.

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