Updated on January 8, 2024


Created on August 19, 2019

The Gulper

Upcoming Update

The Gulper is a manually operated pump to empty contents from pit latrines that can be constructed using locally available materials.

Tested By
  • London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM)
  • Mzuzu University
  • UC Davis D-Lab
  • WaterAid
Content Partners


Product Description

The Gulper is a manually operated pump to empty contents from pit latrines. A standard Gulper will reach 1m-1.5m into the pit and an extendable Gulper will reach up to 2m into the pit. The Gulper can pump semi-solid sludge, be constructed using locally available materials, be paid off through fees charged by emptiers for their services, and work in confined spaces. The design is open source, and has been trialled in many countries.

Exact distributions to date are unknown, but the Gulper has been used in a number of countries around the world including Uganda, Cambodia, Tanzania, and Malawi.

Target SDGs

SDG 6: Clean Water and Sanitation

Market Suggested Retail Price


Target Users (Target Impact Group)

Household, Community

Distributors / Implementing Organizations

The Gulper can be manufactured globally using locally available materials, and has been implemented by a number of organizations including Engineers Without Borders, Water for People, SEB Engineering, Programme Solidarite Eau, Irish Aid, and Water Aid.

Competitive Landscape

Direct competitors include The Vacutug.

Manufacturing/Building Method

Product can be manufactured using locally available materials.

Intellectural Property Type


User Provision Model

The Gulper can be manufactured by local entrepreneurs using available materials or can be distributed by humanitarian organizations.

Distributions to Date Status

Exact distributions to date are unknown, but the Gulper has been used in a number of countries around the world including Uganda, Cambodia, Tanzania, and Malawi.

Emptying speed (L/min)

30 L/min

Accessories needed

Container for waste storage, water to mix if the sludge is too thick, and the emptier needs full PPE clothing protection

Transport mechanism

Only emptying

Transport speed (km/hr)

Only emptying

Storage volume of transportation (L)

Only emptying

Design Specifications

There are three main components of the Gulper, the rising pipe, the plunger, and the bottom valve. The rising pipe is about 2m in length (can be increased to allow for further pit reach). It is constructed from 4 inch plastic drainage pipe (the thickest available) and has a 45° T-junction allowing sludge to be directed out (into a barrel). Footrests are attached using a clamp and a collar halfway down the pipe. The plunger runs up and down the inside of the rising pipe. At the base is a one way valve which works with the bottom valve to allow sludge to flow up in to the rising pipe. Clamped to the top of the rising pipe is a cap with a rubber grommet attached by a cap (stopping sludge from squeezing out as the plunger is raised). The bottom valve (attached by a collar) includes a cage to stop debris from entering the pipe and causing a blockage.

Product Schematics

Technical Support

Users are expected to maintain the product on their own.

Replacement Components




Manufacturer Specified Performance Parameters

General performance targets include production locally, can work in confined spaces, lower initial and operation and maintenance costs than other emptying technologies, and effective pumping of semi-solid sludge.

Vetted Performance Status

In the initial pilot by WaterAid in Tanzania only two of the four community-based organizations (CBOs) continued using the Gulper at the end, and lessons learned included adjustments to the formerly solid waste management business models to adapt them to fecal sludge management, and the importance of leadership and decision making in the selection of CBOs. A willingness-to-pay survey conducted in Tanzania found 96% indicated willingness-to-pay of at least TSH 5000 (4.30 USD), and 57% of respondents willing to pay at least TSH 20,000 (17 USD). A modified pedal Gulper in Malawi trailed has a flow rate of 0.00058 m3/s and if the trash content was low, a latrine with a volume of 1-4mcould be emptied within 1-2 hours. However the success rate was ~17% (5 out 30 sampled lined pit latrines were successfully emptied).


The operator should not come into contact with the fecal sludge, and must dispose of it according to regulations. Personal protective equipment should at least include a protective suit, face mask, waterproof boots, gloves, and safety googles for the operator. Avoid sparks, such as lighting a cigarette, near the pit.

Complementary Technical Systems

A barrel or other storage item is needed for pumped fecal sludge, and personal protective equipment is needed for the user.

Academic Research and References

Godfrey, A., Mtitu, F., 2015, Pit emptying business model: lessons from Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. 38th Water and Engineering Develop Centre (WEDC) International Conference.

Jenkins, M.W., et al., 2015, Pit Latrine Emptying Behavior and Demand for Sanitation Services in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 12(3), pp. 2588-2611.

Chipeta, W.C., et al., 2017, Designing local solutions for emptying pit latrines in low-income urban settlements (Malawi). Physics and Chemistry of the Earth, 100, pp. 336-342.

Radford, J.T., et al., 2015, Latrine desludging pump development using a simple test for simulant strength: A case study from Uganda. Journal of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene for Development, 5(4), pp. 620-624.

Still, D., Foxon, K., 2012, Tackling the challenges of full pit latrines. Water Research Commission. Vol. 1.

Thye, Y.P., et al., 2011, A critical review of technologies for pit latrine emptying in developing countries. Critical Reviews in Environmental Science and Technology, 41(20), pp. 1793-1819.

Rogers, T.W., et al., 2014, Power earth auger modification for waste extraction from pit latrines. Journal of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene for Development, 4(1), pp. 72-80.

WaterAid, Irish Aid & Tanzania Country Programme, 2010, Pit Emptying Service Using Gulper Technology.

Goal 6. Available: https://sdgs.un.org/goals/goal6

Compliance with regulations

Regulations are context-specific and potential implementers should explore relevant laws, standards, and practices

Evaluation methods

The product is evaluated for willingness-to-pay, sustainability, and flow rates.

Other Information

A second Gulper model is being piloted in Uganda. The ‘Gulper’ – a manual latrine/drain pit pump    

Leave a Reply

Explore similar solutions


January 17, 2024

Banza Toilet

Read Solution

Implemented by

Patrick Kiruki, Banza Sanitation


January 10, 2024

BushProof Biosand Filter

Read Solution

Implemented by

Dr. David Manz, University of Calgary


January 4, 2024

Elephant Toilet

Read Solution

Implemented by

The Africa Trust


January 9, 2024

Envirosan EazyWash 2L Handwashing Unit

Read Solution

Implemented by



September 19, 2023

Grundfos SQFlex pumps

Read Solution

Implemented by



January 11, 2024

Precious Plastics Plastic Shredder Pro

Read Solution

Implemented by

Precious Plastic


January 10, 2024

SHIPO Tube Well Drilling

Read Solution

Implemented by

Southern Highlands Participatory Organisation (SHIPO)


January 25, 2024


Read Solution

Implemented by

DEKA Research & Development


January 2, 2024

Sol Char Toilet

Read Solution

Implemented by

University of Colorado


January 1, 2024

TATA Swach Cristella Plus Water Purifier

Read Solution

Implemented by

TATA Swach

All Solutions

Contribute to E4C's Library of Breakthrough Sustainable Development Technology Solutions

Suggest A Solution

Get more information about Solutions Library and its features.

Learn More

Have thoughts on how we can improve?

Give Us Feedback

Join a global community of changemakers.

Become A Member