Most sanitation workers are in dead-end jobs without any pathways for growth and this dampens ambition.

Artificial caste ceiling:

Workers operate in informal environments, with lack of visible opportunities for progression (income and job role), contractor/supervisor often from a different caste-shaping workers’ aspirations on the job and outside the job.

  • This was evidenced in our field research where majority of the workers could not even think beyond their current job.

With presence of female supervisors/ role models, women workers are relatively more ambitious:

Community cleaners in Trichy wanted to become supervisors, or start their own businesses such as tea shops, flour-shop business, elsewhere women only aspired for a permanent status/higher income in present job.

We need to develop clear career trajectories for 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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