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App makes emptying services more cost-effective

Chris Simoens
04 March 2019
How can an app ensure that emptying cesspits becomes more effective? Discover a Protos project in Bamako (Mali).


Decent toilets are a must for a healthy living environment, provided that the cesspits are regularly emptied and the necessary infrastructure to treat ‘fecal sludge’ is available.

In Bamako, the capital of Mali, several emptying services are active, but their activities are rather unstructured. It is therefore not easy for the public authorities responsible for sanitation to pursue a good policy. That is why Protos decided to develop an app with which the emptiers can collect data themselves. To that end, the NGO relied on its field knowledge and that of its local partners and held numerous discussions with emptying services in Bamako.



First and foremost, this app is user-friendly. The emptiers can easily handle it, even if most of them are illiterate. The app is still clearly visible in relatively bright outdoor light and functions effortlessly even with limited internet access. Finally, the app can be installed on any Android smartphone, which is widespread and affordable in Bamako.

The smartphone always travels with the driver. It automatically registers hourly data and GPS data at regular intervals. The emptiers have to enter the commercial information about the customers: contacts, volumes pumped up, prices paid, satisfaction...

The app can also be used without an internet connection. As soon as the phone is connected to the internet again, it sends the data to a server. Authorized persons can consult all data, which can also be retrieved in the form of maps, situation overviews or spreadsheets.

The app proved to be popular with the emptiers. More than 75% of the participants continued to use the app.

Increased profitability

The app proved to be popular with the emptiers. More than 75% of the participants continued to use the app. During a trial period from March to December 2017, 2984 emptying activities and 2500 discharges were recorded.

The emptying services also noted a slight increase in profitability: +15% in terms of income per km travelled and +22% in terms of income per m³ emptied. The operators of the emptying services explained that the innovation allows them to better control their vehicles and limit abuse.

The public services on the other hand can better assess the concrete needs. Thanks to the app, they have a clear view of the prices used, the volumes of sludge removed, where and when the sludge was removed and so on.


Mali Sanitation Digitalisation