A new future for dignified faecal sludge management piloted in Ethiopia

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Pupupractica 1

Featured image of the PuPu Pump from Practica’s brochure on the technology, available here. 

Why does Ethiopia require new faecal sludge management solutions?

Like many low- and middle-income countries today, the local communities we work with in Ethiopia depend on manual human waste emptying services. Why? traditional vacuum trucks (a) cannot access areas away from main roads or toilets that are constructed in difficult to reach places, and (b) service costs are too expensive.

Manual faecal sludge emptying is incredibly dirty and unsafe work.

New solutions are required which both meet local service demands while supporting local workers to have safer and more dignified work. Conventional mechanical emptying tools (vehicles, etc.) can cost anywhere from 30-50,000 euros, thus limiting entrepreneurs and small businesses from getting involved in this business, with extremely limited sustainable business model prospects. Besides, manual pit emptying is insufficient and cannot handle the thick sludge that often forms from a combination of weather and misuse of the toilets. Critically, improper faecal sludge disposal leads to severe environmental and health problems, especially impacting children.

What is the PuPu Pump, and who is behind its development?

The PuPu (‘Push&Pull’) Pump is a new break-through technology for effective and dignified faecal sludge emptying. This pump consists of a (small) compressor, a reservoir with automatic duckbill type non-return valves, and a manual operated suction/pressure valve. With its small volume, the reservoir can reach a high vacuum to draw up the faecal sludge quickly. The ‘duckbill’ valves have unique features that can cope with debris during operation. The PuPu Pump effectively sucks sludge toilet pits and carries it to nearby vehicles for safe transportation to an off-site treatment area. With this design, a costly and substantial vacuum tanker or vacuum truck is unnecessary; a simple storage unit placed on a transport truck is enough.

What is the plan for PuPu pump in Ethiopia?

Partnerships for Green Growth (P4G) have recently provided funding to our FINISH Mondial Ethiopia programme to support the further development of the finance and supply side work being done under the programme. This helped FINISH Mondial Ethiopia partner with Practica Foundation, a Dutch NGO that developed the PuPu pump, to test and demonstrate the PuPu Pump in Ethiopia with a bigger vision to develop a solution that can be produced locally. Local production of such a technology would break down the barriers of access for many more African sanitation entrepreneurs not only in Ethiopia, but beyond. Together, our FINISH Mondial programme, P4G, and Practica Foundation are leading programmes and organisations in waste management, technology development, and investment for a sustainable future. PuPu Pump is promised to be an affordable solution for the unsafe disposal of faecal in Ethiopia.

Currently, the Pump is in the prototype phase and is being made in the Netherlands. In addition, it has been tested in Kenya, Madagascar, and Burkina Faso. The successful piloting and local production of the PuPu Pump will help solve local issues to faecal sludge management in two key ways:

  1. It offers safety for workers and can handle strong sludge.
  2. It is timesaving, light, versatile, flexible, and crucially, affordable.

Get in touch with our FINISH Mondial Ethiopia and technical lead, Henock Belete Asfaw, to learn more about our work developing inclusive waste management solutions.

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