Desludging in Difficult Areas

Desludging: the biggest challenge in sanitation

In emergency situations the first option is to dig pit latrines. Sometimes used can be made of existing latrines, often at schools or institutes. However, in congested, high density areas with narrow lanes, bumpy roads, steep slopes it is difficult to desludge existing latrines. It is even more difficult to desludge latrines with compacted pit contents where its contents is mixed with rubbish. To worsen the situation, it might be difficult to access the sludge: small drop hole, fragile drop hole (i.e. mud slab), unlined pit (may collapse during emptying), small door, low roof (hampers fishing out of rubbish), etc.. And once the desludging equipment has been provided during emergency situations, it might break down after a while and in the post-emergency phase, there no proper equipment.

Looking for suitable equipment

In short, we are looking for a device that is suitable to desludge in ‘difficult’ sludge in ‘difficult’ areas and a second device that can be copied and produced locally, using local artisans and local production facilities. Amongst others, it should fulfill the following requirements:

  • Ease of adhering safety, health and environmental norms and standards during operation and maintenance;
  • Ability to deploy the device in modular mode in accordance with different population settings and densities;
  • Ability to handle different types of sludge (liquid, solid, semi liquid);
  • Device is sufficiently robust to withstand extreme conditions in terms of weather (extreme cold and heat, humidity, dust, etc.) handling and transport;
  • Favorable weight and size of the desludging device to allow common handling and transportation available in the field (man power and pick-up truck);
  • Ability to move the sludge over a certain distance;
  • Diameter and flexibility of suction unit to penetrate into sludge holding unit;
  • Ability to handle different types of materials (menstrual cloths, stones, bottles etc.);
  • Requirement of limited physical exertion by operators;
  • Capacity to convey to alternative (e.g. pre-positioned) transport units while using a certain desludging device.


Tell us your idea

If you have any products, ideas or would like to become involved in desludging project, please get in touch with:

Jan Spit
Adviser Sanitation
WASTE advisers on urban environment and development
tel: + 31 182 52 26 25
mob: +31 6 57 99 78 74

Review existing practices and options

The following mindmap provides an overview of existing practices and options.

Desludging 'difficult' areas