At the 8th Zambia Water Forum and Exhibition (ZAWAFE) on 11th-12th June 2019 in Lusaka, a very engaging Skills Challenge was conducted with 28 contestants from 14 different Zambian water and sanitation utilities. After two international Skills Challenges at FSM4 and FSM5 (Faecal Sludge Management) conferences, the GIZ sector programme sustainable sanitation (SV NaSa), the GIZ programme Climate friendly sanitation services in peri-urban areas of Lusaka (CFS), together with BORDA, the Sustainable Sanitation Alliance (SuSanA) and the Faecal Sludge Management Alliance (FSMA) now organised a national Skills Challenge with utilities from all over Zambia.
The challenge was to empty a mock pit latrine filled with simulated pit sludge, then transport it safely to a designated location. The teams had to demonstrate the proper use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and hygiene practices while emptying the pits and delivering the contents as efficient as possible. Participants had to master obstaclesthat occur in the daily operations, such as (fake) poisonous snakes, and steering the wheelbarrow through bumpy and narrow paths. All this under time pressure competing with other teams and the possibility to gain or lose points in the final scoring.
The winning team was the Chazanga Emptier Team from Lusaka Water and Sanitation Company (LWSC). The Minister of Water Development, Sanitation and Environmental Protection (MWDSEP) handed out all the awards to the emptiers during the award ceremony. This was an excellent level of recognition for the emptiers and a great signal from the Minister.
The aim of the challenge is to inspire professionals to demonstrate their skills and show the limitations and requirements of their daily work life to sector stakeholders. The challenge is not only of notable educational value in raising awareness of safe, effective and efficient pit emptying practices, it also aims to elevate the profile and visibility of the pit latrine emptying profession by actively demonstrating the importance and value of the work as essential for maintaining healthy living environments. This in turn aims to instil a sense of recognition, motivation and empowerment in competitors and underline the need for more qualified professionals in the field.
Text written by Trevor Surridge, Mintje Büürma and Franziska Volk (GIZ/SuSanA Secretariat)