FSM Operators Skills Challenge at AfWA International Congress and Exhibition
February 2020 – After the success of last year’s FSM Operators Skills Challenges at the FSM5 conference in Cape Town and the Zambia Water Forum and Exhibition in Lusaka, BORDA partnered with AfWA, FSMA, GIZ, KCCA, PASA, SuSanA and WorldSkills Uganda to conduct a Pan-African challenge in both manual and mechanical emptying at the 20th AfWA (African Water Association) Congress in Kampala, Uganda. BORDA has been leading the conceptual design of the Skills Challenges since 2019 through support from BMZ and GIZ.
The event aims to bring together on-the-ground sanitation actors and incorporate recognition for sanitation workers into big conferences. Eleven teams from Uganda, Zambia, South Africa, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Cameroon and Burkina Faso took part in the challenge.
Demonstrations of true skill
In two categories – manual emptying using shovels and semi-mechanized emptying using gulper technology – the task 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 and hygiene practices, teamwork, proper technique while emptying the pits, and delivering the contents as efficiently as possible. Participants also had to overcome obstacles typically encountered in daily operations, such as solid waste, (fake) poisonous snakes, and steering the wheelbarrow through bumpy and narrow paths. The “home team” from Uganda emerged as the winner in both manual and mechanized emptying. The all-female team from Cameroon missed the championship by two points and gave tough competition in manual emptying.
Dr Eng. Silver Mugisha, Congress President and Managing Director NWSC, handed out the trophies to the emptiers during the AfWA gala dinner in front of eminent conference delegates. Skills Challenges strive to close the stakeholder gap in sanitation by recognizing the true sanitation heroes who provide an essential public service and allowing ground practitioners to experience conferences in a “policy meets practice” way.
Apart from the Skills Challenges, BORDA took part in the 29th SuSanA meeting and launched the new BORDA publication ‘Heroes behind Sanitation’, focussing on sanitation workers and manual emptying of pit latrines in Zambia. The publication was produced in collaboration with GIZ, SuSanA and FSMA with support from BMZ.