4 August 2011 – The Gulper, WaterAid’s innovative machine for hygienically emptying pit latrines, will feature in a new BBC World documentary series on Saturday 6 August at 10.10 and 20.10 GMT.
The film, which has been made by independent production company Rockhopper, will appear on The Health Show, a groundbreaking new series covering major health stories from around the world.
Rachel Pilkington, WaterAid’s Media Officer, who accompanied the film crew on the trip, said: “We were delighted that The Gulper was chosen for this documentary series as it is really helping to reduce the spread of disease in urban settlements in Tanzania.
“Being featured on BBC World provides WaterAid with the valuable opportunity to spread awareness of its sanitation work among new and varied audiences across the globe.”
The Gulper is a hand-operated pump that can be used in crowded urban environments to hygienically empty household latrines. Once the latrine has been emptied using the Gulper, a specially designed vehicle called a Piki-Piki is used to transport the waste to the city treatment plant for safe disposal.
The technology provides a more efficient and affordable solution to the challenges of emptying latrines in unplanned urban settlements than the previous process of manually emptying latrines and burying the waste on the householder’s land.
WaterAid has supported local businesses in getting the necessary loans to be able to set up the waste disposal business and provided operators with training on using the Gulper as well as following hygienic working practices.
Demonstrating the health benefits
The BBC film features interviews with Julius, a Gulper operator who previously worked as a manual latrine emptier.
Manual emptying is extremely unhygienic for both households and workers and can be dangerous. Workers often have to break the latrine slabs to get their buckets into the latrine, which can weaken it over time and cause the latrine to collapse.
Julius revealed that when he started the job, he didn’t realise the dangers involved. Over time, many of his colleagues became sick and he even knew of one person who died when the latrine collapsed on him while he was emptying it.
He is proud to now work as a Gulper operator, and earns more money than before as people know he has a reputable business.