A lack of effective options in local technology poses challenges when onsite household sanitation facilities are eventually filled to capacity in unplanned settlement areas within Mzuzu City, located in northern Malawi. Vacuum trucks currently dominate the market but focus on emptying septic tanks in the more easily accessible planned settlement areas, rather than servicing the pit latrines common in unplanned settlement areas. As a result, households in the unplanned settlement areas within Mzuzu rely primarily on manual pit emptying (i.e., shoveling by hand) or digging a new pit latrine. These practices have associated health risks and are limited by space constraints. This research focused on filling the technological gap through the design, development, and testing of a pedal powered modified Gulper pump using locally available materials and fabrication. A modified pedal powered Gulper technology was developed and demonstrated to be capable of lifting fecal sludge from a depth of 1.5 m with a mean flow rate of 0.00058 m3/s. If the trash content was low, a typical pit latrine with a volume of 1–4 m3 could be emptied within 1–2 h. Based on the findings in our research Phase IV, the pedal powered Gulper modification is promising as a potential emptying technology for lined pit latrines in unplanned settlement areas. The success rate of the technology is about 17% (5 out 30 sampled lined pit latrines were successful) and reflects the difficulty in finding a single technology that can work well in all types of pit latrines with varying contents. We note that cost should not be the only design criteria and acknowledge the challenge of handling trash in pit latrines.
Chipeta, W. C.; Holm, R. H.; Kamanula, J. F.; Mtonga, W. E.; and de los Reyes, F. L., "Designing local solutions for emptying pit latrines in low-income urban settlements (Malawi)" (2017). Faculty Scholarship. 719.