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Manual pit emptying as a sustainable livelihood in Ghana

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journal contribution
posted on 2012-11-21, 15:26 authored by Andrews Nkansah, Julie Fisher, M. Sohail (Khan)
On-plot sanitation is vital in many low-income country urban areas. Pit emptying is critical to its sustainability and small-scale manual emptiers play a key role in this. This paper investigates the sustainability of manual pit emptying as a livelihood option, focusing on the key sustainable livelihood factors relating to the human, social, physical and financial capitals of manual emptiers. These relate to: their role as emptiers; the employment systems and equipment; their health, well-being, social status and the acceptability of the job they do. The paper concludes that the current state of pit-emptying practice does not represent a sustainable long-term livelihood option for manual pit emptiers, as long as it continues with no improvements in technology, insufficient financial incentives and inadequate health and safety measures. Recommendations to improve sustainability include: improvements in emptying technology; provision of subsidies and free medical care; and health and safety education.



  • Architecture, Building and Civil Engineering

Research Unit

  • Water, Engineering and Development Centre (WEDC)


NKANSAH, A., FISHER, J. and SOHAIL, M., 2012. Manual pit emptying as a sustainable livelihood in Ghana. Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers: Engineering Sustainability, 165 (3), pp. 215 - 221.


© ICE Publishing Ltd.


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This article was published in the journal, Proceedings of the ICE: Engineering Sustainability [© ICE Publishing Ltd.]. The journal's website is at: www.sustainabilityjournal.com and the definitive version of the paper is available at: http://www.icevirtuallibrary.com/content/article/10.1680/ensu.10.00056




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