It takes a brave heart to do what I do

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You know, people hate faeces. You need a brave heart to touch somebody else’s faeces. My name is Julius Hadison Chisengo and I am a pit latrine emptier.

In the beginning, we used to do it manually. You would remove the floor and then use a ladder to get into the pit till you get to the faeces. You tie a bucket to the rope and you will have two or three people.

One will be inside to scoop the sludge and the other will be outside to put it in another pit. I once broke my right leg, at the time we didn’t know how to assess how strong the structures were. I got into the pit and the wall fell on me.

I used to do it because I had no other option. Latrines fill up everyday and they need people to empty them. I know my work is against the law and that’s why we used to do it at night because of the police.

Julius has been collecting faecal sludge in Dar es Salaam for over 30 years. Manual pit emptying is one of the riskiest types of sanitation work. Manual emptiers operate in areas where vacuum trucks can’t gain access.

WaterAid Tanzania has trained Julius and others like him to drain and transport faecal sludge safely. The sludge is taken to an off-site treatment plant where it is reused to make biogas and organic fertiliser for sale.

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