Sanitation workers are risk averse and value assured wages more than potentially higher entrepreneurial incomes or personal safety.

Risk averse:

Sanitation workers tend to prioritise assured in come over safety or potential higher income.

Experienced workers have a “stick with what you know” attitude:

After years of experience, workers are disinclined to unlearn their existing job (even though it was learnt with no training, skill) and feel there is an opportunity cost of a new job.

Contractual workers hope to become permanent one day:

Contractual workers are sticking to the job in expectation of regularization of their current job-there is complete information asymmetry since there is no guarantee or evidence in the past 5- 10 years of conversion.

Not willing to take risks to start a business that could potentially pay much more:

Workers anticipate variability in earnings and potential dip in the short-term, if they were to start a business- and are unwilling to bear this switching cost.

We need to provide on-the job/pathways solutions according to personas, keeping in mind their aspirations and risk appetite.

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

Related Projects