Sanitation workers are broadly understood to be a single amorphous category, but there exist nine types of work across the value chain.

We estimate that there are almost 5 million full-time equivalents of sanitation workers nationally; they vary by degrees to risk exposure and policy recognition.

~ TYPES OF SANITATION WORK ~

Sewer cleaning

What this entails: Unblocking and cleaning sewer and wastewater drains

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

Location: Urban areas

Public and community toilets

 

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

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

Domestic work

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

LocationUrban areas

Railway stations

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

Insanitary latrines

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

LocationPrimarily rural

Sewage treatment plants

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

LocationUrban, across the ~527 STPs/FSTPs in India

Septic tanks

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

School toilets

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

LocationSchools – rural and urban

Sweeping and Drain cleaning

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