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Sanitation WorkersBlog

Jen Barr, PhD, MPH | August 2022 Sanitation workers’ health: a global perspective

A team from Emory University and the World Health Organization published a literature review examining health outcomes of sanitation workers in the 2022 International Journal of Hygiene and Environmental Health. Given the working conditions and the potential exposures to hazardous materials, understanding the exact risks that sanitation workers are exposed to is vital in improving their wellbeing. While most parts of this field need significantly more study, the three populations identified by the literature review that need the greatest amount of work yet are women, informally employed workers, and workers in low-income nations. Read more …

Sally Cawood, Amita Bhakta | March 2021 Man or machine? Eliminating manual scavenging in India and Bangladesh

Can mechanisation address the problem of manual scavenging? The article looks at the historical, social, political and economic context of manual scavenging in South Asia; and highlights how mechanisation can end up reinforcing gendered, classed and casteist inequalities in sanitation work. Read more …

Sally Cawood, Malisha Farzana, Faisal Naeem and Hossain I. Adib | February 2021 Are minorities losing out on improved sanitation work? Calls to action for Bangladesh

Drawing on a study undertaken with WaterAid in February–March 2020, Sally Cawood, Malisha Farzana, Faisal Naeem and Hossain I. Adib reflect on the challenges facing manual pit latrine emptiers, and key actions to foster improved job opportunities for marginalised sanitation workers in Bangladesh. Read more …

Maggie Forte | February 2022 5 Hidden Dangers Sanitation Workers Face

COVID-19 has deemed sanitation workers essential workers in fighting the pandemic which has granted them a larger appreciation for their work. Sanitation work is a profession that can impact poverty by keeping communities clean. It also perpetuates it by putting the workers at risk for health concerns, conditions and unsustainable pay among five other hidden dangers that sanitary workers face. Read more …

World Bank | 2019 Sanitation Workers: Light at the End of the Tunnel?

Sanitation workers often face extreme health hazards and safety risks on the job. In many developing countries, they are informal workers with no legal protections or rights. With a lack of visibility in society, they can be stigmatized, marginalized and ignored. The feature story by World Bank presents an overview of the challenges faced by sanitation workers. Read more …

Mariam Zaqout (PhD Candidate, University of Leeds) | April 2022 Are we supporting or suppressing sanitation workers?

Mariam Zaqout discusses the appropriateness and effectiveness challenges of providing assistance to improve the livelihoods of sanitation workers in low and middle-income countries. Read more …

Vanessa Guenther, Karen Setty, and Rachel Peletz | February 2022 Five Ways to Enhance Safe Fecal Sludge Management in Urban, Low-income Areas

Densely populated areas unserved by sewer systems continuously produce fecal sludge, for which safe disposal or recycling is challenging to achieve at scale. A group of researchers from the Aquaya Institute, Oliver Wyman, and Great Lakes University of Kisumu collected evidence and recommendations from Kisumu, Kenya. Read more …