Tag Archives: bicycles

Practical Action – How bicycles are the workhorses of water and sanitation projects

Safer Cities: How bicycles are the workhorses of water and sanitation projects | by Matt Wenham, Practical Action Blog, June 16th, 2014

Excerpts from an interesting article about an innovative use of one of the world’s greatest inventions, the bicycle:

So pit latrine emptying…bicycles, really?  Well yes. In order to empty a pit latrine situated deep in the warren of narrow pathways in a slum, you need something to transport the waste that’s small enough to get between the houses but strong enough to cope with loads up to 200 kilos. Practical Action is working with communities of Bengali and Harijan ‘sweepers’ whose lot in life it is to clean the streets and empty pit latrines. With no safety equipment, just their bare hands and a bucket, these men and women remove foul smelling liquid sludge from these latrines and take it away – to be dumped into a canal or a ditch somewhere in the city.

Kitchen waste collected by these bikes is turned into compost or biogas for cooking

Kitchen waste collected by these bikes is turned into compost or biogas for cooking

Our Safer Cities appeal last Christmas means that now, with Practical Action’s help, they are receiving training and safety equipment, and new sludge transporting bicycle carts. The next step is to work with the municipalities to help them deal with the sludge safely, and to invest in machinery that can be fitted to bicycle carts so that the sludge can be pumped from the pit without needing someone to climb inside.

Bicycle carts play an important role in other ways in this project. Specially adapted carts are used to collect kitchen waste from homes, that is used to create compost for farming, or digested to generate gas for cooking, piped to homes close by.