Caste labels prevent sanitation workers from finding employment in other informal urban labour markets.

Highly regimented urban labour market:

Formal and semi-formal occupations (manufacturing, service sector, loading jobs, etc.) are reliant on caste-based networks.

  • Workers find it difficult to break into other casual 
labour markets, poor employer acceptance; even in rural areas, there is denial of opportunities as NREGA workers due to discrimination from dominant groups.

Poor access to education and housing restricts access to opportunities:

Lower education/skills and denial of free access to housing restrict employment opportunities as workers are spatially tied to their jobs.

  • The average worker we spoke to dropped out of school in the 5th grade, no alternate skills.

  • Workers find it difficult to relocate to better jobs in different locations due to denial of housing opportunities from upper castes.

Education and skill for the younger sanitation workers and the next generation is crucial to overcome the artificial barrier to entry; need incentives to employees for hiring these workers.

This insight applies to all types of unsafe sanitation work:

What this entails: Unblocking and cleaning sewer and wastewater drains

Frequency: Complaint-based, seasonal (rainy season) and occasionally for preventive maintenance

Location: Urban areas

What this entails: Emptying, collection and transport of human waste from septic tanks on an on-demand basis

Frequency: De-sludging frequency varies greatly, ranging from 6 months to 10-15 years

LocationPrimarily urban, mostly unplanned localities

What this entails: Cleaning faecal matter from railway tracks and platforms,railway toilets and platform toilets

Frequency: several times a day

Location: Rail network and railway stations

What this entails: Emptying of dry/single-pit latrines primarily in rural areas; daily collection and transport/emptying of fecal matter

LocationPrimarily rural

What this entails: Maintaining and operating sewage and faecal sludge treatment plants on a daily basis

LocationUrban, across the ~527 STPs/FSTPs in India

What this entails: Maintaining public/community toilets (often insanitary) on a daily basis

Location: Rural and urban CTCs, mostly in slums; public convenience shelters

What this entails: Operating and maintaining school toilets on a daily basis

LocationSchools – rural and urban

What this entails: Cleaning open drains and road sweeping, often encountering fecal matter due to open defecation and insanitary latrines connected to drains

LocationUrban – drains alongside roads

What this entails: Cleaning toilets in middle-high income households/institutions, encountering insanitary conditions at times

LocationUrban areas

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