HI: Tanzania’s Gulper 4:00, 2018 (Ref: AF18825)


Tanzania’s Gulper is transforming the sewage system in Dar es Salaam. Only ten percent of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania’s biggest city, is connected to the central sewage system. The pit latrines often over fill and emptying them is infrequent, dangerous and unhygienic.

Water Aid is pioneering a cheap and simple pump and motorbike device called – The Gulper – that empties up to six latrines a day and is helping to reduce diseases such as cholera and typhoid.

In this film we go on the daily rounds with the men who operate The Gulper to empty the thousands of latrines in the city. They tell stories of how their colleagues died before The Gulper was developed when emptying latrines that collapsed on them. They say the new machine makes their lives less dangerous, more efficient and they feel a sense of community spirit by helping to make life in Dar es Salaam a lot more healthy.

Only ten percent of Dar es Salaam’s toilets are connected to the central sewage system. Eighty percent of the city’s population live in settlements that have sprung up without planning permission. They rely on a huge number of smelly, dirty and unsafe latrines. But the Gulper is starting to provide a solution. These motor tricycles and the equipment they carry are transforming the way pit latrines are being emptied.

In the past, sewage often ended up contaminating water supplies, particularly during the rainy season. The Gulper is designed to reach customers who live down even the narrowest streets. Many of the latrines are unsafe because of the old way of emptying them. They used to have to completely demolish the toilet to drain it. The owners would get upset because the toilet was completely broken.

But now it’s the Gulper’s pump that has made life safer and cleaner for the cleaners. It’s not motorized, so it’s easy to maintain. It’s cheap and above all it’s effective. All the sewage is removed and very little spills on the ground. And in addition, there’s another way the Gulper has life made better for the cleaners – they are better paid. Yet customers pay less for the Gulper’s services.

It’s this affordability that is key to improving health for everyone living in the unplanned settlements.

The more sewage that gets dumped centrally, the less risk there is to local people with diseases such as cholera in decline.