Due to under-employment, sanitation workers perceive themselves as disposable & guard even risky sanitation work from outsiders.

Protective of their jobs:

Sanitation workers are wary of entry of other communities into these jobs, access to these jobs is the only tangible ‘asset’ protected from dominant caste groups.

  • In our interviews, workers expressed fears that as jobs become more mechanized, other communities will express interest to take their jobs, wanted reservations and permanent status.

Underemployment even in sub-castes:

Workers are aware about a general paucity in employment opportunities across the board, and are aware that they are easily replaceable.

  • Data indicates that there is 50-60% underemployment within sanitation work for the lowest sub-caste groups, several others in line to do similar jobs.

Workers need to be shown job security and a baseline financial protection in livelihood alternatives.

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