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October 2022 Sanitation Workers Research Awards 2022- Meet the awardees

Meet the awardees of the 2022 Sanitation Workers Research Awards. These awards, a collaboration between the Initiative for Sanitation Workers, and the Water and Health Institute at the UNC, aim to encourage research on sanitation workers' challenges and rights.



Sanitation workers provide an essential public service, but this is often at the cost of their health and dignity, while enduring poor working and living conditions, and employment insecurity. Despite their crucial role in the delivery of sanitation services, their rights to health, safety, and dignity are not given due importance and acknowledgement. There is lack of adequate evidence of their situation and challenges, and ways to support their rights. The role of research is crucial in order to understand the situation better, and develop policies and initiatives to improve the working conditions of sanitation workers, and protect their rights. 

To encourage research on this subject, The Water Institute at the University of North Carolina, and the Initiative for Sanitation Workers (a joint global advocacy initiative by the International Labour Organisation, WaterAid, the World Bank, the World Health Organisation, and SNV Netherlands Development Organisation) are supporting the Sanitation Workers Research Awards. The awards recognise studies that show excellence, relevance, and impact, and are announced at the UNC Water and Health Conference every year. 

The awardees of the 2022 Sanitation Workers Research Awards, in the Best original research abstract category, are:


Mahbub Ul Alam, Mehdi Hasan, Dewan Muhammad Shoaib, Kazy Farhat Tabassum, Makfie Farah, Alauddin Ahmed, and Tanvir Ahmed, for their abstract 'Barriers to using personal protective equipment by waste and sanitation workers in seven Bangladeshi cities'.

First runner-up: 

Venus Mungesa, Ricky Ojwang, Lauren Trondsen, Anne Aol, and Eric Machango, for their abstract 'Reducing ergonomic risk in container-based sanitation collection services to improve safety for sanitation workers'

Second runner-up (ex-aequo): 

Dennis Gichimu, Kelly James, Lauren Trondsen, Ruthie Rosenberg, Laura Kohler, and Alidou Bande, for their abstract 'Voices of manual pit emptiers: their crucial role in FSM, challenges faced, and desired support'

Second runner-up (ex-aequo): 

Manvita Baradi, Meghna Malhotra, Prerana Somani, and Jay Shah, for their abstract 'Assessment of institutional mechanism for safe confined space entry of sanitation workers in India'

The submissions were evaluated by a panel of researchers, academics and policy experts working on this subject. The evaluation criteria were:

  • Well defined research or learning objectives
  • Appropriate and sound methods, described clearly
  • Clear learnings/practical recommendations which are derived from evidence, and/or practical experiences
  • The contribution to the knowledge gap and potential impact to improve the rights of sanitation workers.