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October 2023 Sanitation Workers Research Awards 2023- Meet the awardees October 2023

Introducing the distinguished recipients of the 2023 Sanitation Workers Research Awards! These awards, a partnership between the Initiative for Sanitation Workers and the esteemed Water and Health Institute at the UNC, hold a profound purpose: to ignite transformative research on the challenges and rights of sanitation workers.




Sanitation workers provide an indispensable public service, but they often do so at the expense of their own health and dignity, grappling with subpar working and living conditions, and job insecurity. Despite their pivotal role in delivering sanitation services, their fundamental rights to health, safety, and dignity frequently go underappreciated. A glaring gap exists in understanding their circumstances, challenges, and the mechanisms required to safeguard their rights. Research plays an indispensable role in shedding light on this issue, facilitating a more reflective comprehension, and paving the way for policies and initiatives that will enhance sanitation workers' working conditions 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. These prestigious awards are designed to recognize studies that exemplify excellence, relevance, and impact, and they are unveiled each year at the UNC Water and Health Conference.

© UNC/ The Water and Health Institute

© UNC/ The Water and Health Institute

The awardees of the 2023 Sanitation Workers Research Awards, in the Best original research abstract category, are:

First place

Douglas Bulafu, Lesley Rose Ninsiima, Filimin Niyongabo, Bridget Nagawa Tamale, Baguma James Natweeta, Lydia Namakula Nabawanuka, Rawlance Ndejjo, and David Musoke, for their abstract Biohazard awareness and Personal Protective Equipment utilisation among sanitation workers in nine cities of Uganda

Second place

Tonny Ssekamatte, Richard K Mugambe, Bridget Nagawa Tamale, Aisha Nalugya, Arnold Tigaiza, Doreen Nakalembe, and John Bosco Isunju, for their abstract Do workplace policies predict PPE-related knowledge and ownership among desludging operators? A Ugandan case’

Third place (ex aequo)

Uttam Saha, and Michael Poustie, for their abstract ‘Reviewing a transformative model for empowering and dignifying sanitation workers' lives in regional Bangladesh’

Third place (ex aequo)

Prince Antwi-Agyei, Isaac Monney, and Nana Osei Bonsu Ackerson, for their abstract ‘How risky is the work of sanitation workers? A quantitative assessment of workers in Ghana’

The submissions underwent rigorous evaluation by a panel of seasoned 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.