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April 2024 Sanitation Workers Research Awards 2024- Applications open till 3rd May 2024

WaterAid/ Chea Sochet

The Water Institute at UNC and the Initiative for Sanitation Workers are pleased to announce the fourth edition of the Sanitation Workers Research Awards at the 2024 UNC Water and Health Conference. 

Sanitation workers – including pit emptiers, sewer workers, and others involved in faecal waste management – provide an essential public service. This often comes at the cost of their dignity, safety, health, and living conditions.  Often invisible, unquantified, and ostracized, they are exposed to serious health and safety hazards risking illness, injury, or even death. Sanitation workers are key to achieving SDG 6.2 and deserve more recognition, attention, and policy and regulatory reforms aimed at safeguarding their rights. We hope that this award will encourage greater evidence building on these issues and in collaboration with sanitation workers organisations. Read about the 2023 Sanitation Workers Research Awards here and the blogs written by the winners here.

As part of this special call, the Water Institute at UNC and the Initiative for Sanitation Workers (ISW: WaterAid, World Bank, SNV Netherlands Development Organization, World Health Organization, and International Labor Organization) will present awards for the: 

  • Best Original Research Abstract
  • Best Published Paper (since 28 April 2023)

We welcome submissions on the health, safety and dignity of sanitation workers (those engaged in faecal waste management), including but not limited to the following areas: 

  • Health and safety
  • Labor rights, wages, working conditions, access to social security
  • Livelihoods, rehabilitation
  • Social challenges - caste/ethnic identity, social discrimination, exclusion
  • Gender dimensions, disparities, intersectionality
  • Policies, regulation, standard operating procedures and enforcement
  • Interventions to support sanitation workers- good practices and learnings.



Winners in each category will receive an award certificate, a spotlight opportunity to present their work at the 2024 UNC Water and Health Conference, a cash award of $600 USD, and waiver of conference fees for the conference. 

The runner-up in each category will receive an award certificate. 

Guidelines for submission

  1. Submit your entry using the abstract submission form. Specify 'Sanitation Workers' as the research category and if you want to be considered for the Award select ‘Yes, I want my abstract to be considered for Sanitation Workers Research Awards’. Select 'Verbal Presentation' in the Preferred Presentation type.

    Visit the Abstract portal for suggestions and resources on writing a successful abstract.

  2. If you are applying for the Best Published Paper award, please mention this and add the publication link in the abstract. 

  3. For the purpose of this announcement, ’sanitation workers’ refers to those directly involved in the management of faecal waste along the sanitation service chain. Submissions around other categories of work such as solid waste management will not be considered for the awards.

See our website for more information on submitting an abstract. Submissions are due by May 3, 2024.

Please email with any questions.

Evaluation process

 The evaluation for these awards is done through a two-step process.

  1. The Water and Health Conference undertakes a double-blinded peer review for all the abstracts (not limited to the awards) submitted for the conference. The review criteria can be accessed here.

  2. The top-ranked abstracts around Sanitation Workers are then evaluated by a panel of researchers, academics and policy experts working on this subject. This process is led independently by the Initiative for Sanitation Workers. The evaluation criteria are:
  • 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
  • contribution to the knowledge gap and potential impact to improve the rights of sanitation workers.