Emerging issues of Sanitation Workers and Manual Scavengers

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  • nityajacob
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Re: Emerging issues of Sanitation Workers and Manual Scavengers

Water For People, a global non-profit dedicated to providing access to improved water and sanitation systems and services to nine countries, organised a FSM session at the BoP Global Summit on 19th April, 2018, in New Delhi. The session’s co-organizers were ECOCIATE Consultants . The BoP summit was organised by the Enterprise for a Sustainable World (ESW: e4sw.org/ ) with the BoP Global Network Labs in Delhi.

The session sought to address challenges beyond the construction of toilets. The mere construction does not complete the sanitation cycle as the waste needs to be removed and processed to ensure environmental sanitation. Whether it is the sewers in large cities or septic tanks in smaller towns or the leach pits in the rural areas, there is need for faecal sludge/waste management (FSM). This will become more acute as more of the population gains access to toilets with septic tanks.

The SuSanA India Chapter and Ecosan Services Foundation held a meeting in Panaji, Goa, India on 21 February 2018, along with
the 50 annual convention of the Indian Water Works Association’s (IWWA). The seminar brought together around 40 experts who deliberated on urban sanitation, holistic approaches and financing and monitoring sanitation.

The reports are attached. I hope this sparks additional discussions.
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Nitya

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  • AjitSeshadri
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  • Marine Chief Engineer by profession (1971- present) and at present Faculty in Marine Engg. Deptt. Vels University, Chennai, India. Also proficient in giving Environmental solutions , Designation- Prof. Ajit Seshadri, Head- Environment, The Vigyan Vijay Foundation, NGO, New Delhi, INDIA , Consultant located at present at Chennai, India
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Re: Emerging issues of Sanitation Workers and Manual Scavengers

On the issue of accidents in sewers.
How do we assess as to why still Manual scavenging is in practice.
If it is not what alternatives do we have.
So at most places occasions manual methods are resorted to ..

Hence it is definitely required to give the Services the utmost respect .regard& consideration.

Whenever similar type of service say Domestic Electric supply is done .
The workers are given awareness and training on SOP ..Safe Operating Practices for devices system others And SWP..Safe Working Practices in way of personnel working etc..

We do have all this in place in Manuals etc.. for both Sanitation and Conservancy work practices.
It is to be ensured that it is strictly followed.

Well wishes.
Prof. Ajit Seshadri, Faculty in Marine Engg. Deptt. Vels University, and
Head-Environment , VigyanVijay Foundation, Consultant (Water shed Mngmnt, WWT, WASH, others)Located at present at Chennai, India

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  • depinder
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  • Depinder Kapur is currently Director Water Programme at Centre for Science and Environment, Delhi.
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Re: Emerging issues of Sanitation Workers and Manual Scavengers

Another relevant post from Wilson Bezwada.

www.downtoearth.org.in/interviews/lettin...bezwada-wilson-61637
Depinder Kapur is Director Water Programme at Centre for Science and Environment. He has taight at Shiv Nadar University and has lead the Sanitation Capacity Building Platform(SCBP) of National Institute of Urban Affairs. His professional engagements have been with AKRSP(Program Officer Forestry), SPWD(Sr. Program Officer), CARE(Director NRM), Oxfam(Program & Advocacy Director), WaterAid India(Country Head) and WSSCC(National Coordinator) and as an independent consultant.

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  • AjitSeshadri
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  • Marine Chief Engineer by profession (1971- present) and at present Faculty in Marine Engg. Deptt. Vels University, Chennai, India. Also proficient in giving Environmental solutions , Designation- Prof. Ajit Seshadri, Head- Environment, The Vigyan Vijay Foundation, NGO, New Delhi, INDIA , Consultant located at present at Chennai, India
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Re: Emerging issues of Sanitation Workers and Manual Scavengers

With reference to HT bulletin on Women Sanitation Workers.
I offer my comments as below:

1. Lead Institutes dealing with courses on these specific principles and practices and Admin staff at local . state . national and if need be inter national level standards are to be consulted and followed for compliance.

2. Safe Working Practices ought to be formulated and followed strictly.

With well wishes.
Prof. Ajit Seshadri, Faculty in Marine Engg. Deptt. Vels University, and
Head-Environment , VigyanVijay Foundation, Consultant (Water shed Mngmnt, WWT, WASH, others)Located at present at Chennai, India

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  • depinder
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  • Depinder Kapur is currently Director Water Programme at Centre for Science and Environment, Delhi.
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Re: Emerging issues of Sanitation Workers and Manual Scavengers

Depinder Kapur is Director Water Programme at Centre for Science and Environment. He has taight at Shiv Nadar University and has lead the Sanitation Capacity Building Platform(SCBP) of National Institute of Urban Affairs. His professional engagements have been with AKRSP(Program Officer Forestry), SPWD(Sr. Program Officer), CARE(Director NRM), Oxfam(Program & Advocacy Director), WaterAid India(Country Head) and WSSCC(National Coordinator) and as an independent consultant.

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  • AjitSeshadri
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  • Marine Chief Engineer by profession (1971- present) and at present Faculty in Marine Engg. Deptt. Vels University, Chennai, India. Also proficient in giving Environmental solutions , Designation- Prof. Ajit Seshadri, Head- Environment, The Vigyan Vijay Foundation, NGO, New Delhi, INDIA , Consultant located at present at Chennai, India
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Re: Emerging issues of Sanitation Workers and Manual Scavengers

Agreeing with Mr. Depinder.
I offer my comments as below:

1. The Governance and Administration mechanism in charge of getting the Management of most clean up operation has been taking their role too lightly. There is no accountability and responsibility of these deliverables.

2. We need to blame ourselves in not ensuring all thse services are done on time.. and done very well.

3. Some of the Seniors in PHED offices who have worked under WatSan- experts in the likes of Uppalji would easily visualise the predicament of a city like NCR with 7 odd dump sites. Clogged broken u/grnd sewers . and all in deplorable state.

4. The consequences due poor hygiene and health issues are enarmous which urbanites are bearing.

With well wishes ..
Prof. Ajit Seshadri, Faculty in Marine Engg. Deptt. Vels University, and
Head-Environment , VigyanVijay Foundation, Consultant (Water shed Mngmnt, WWT, WASH, others)Located at present at Chennai, India

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  • Marine Chief Engineer by profession (1971- present) and at present Faculty in Marine Engg. Deptt. Vels University, Chennai, India. Also proficient in giving Environmental solutions , Designation- Prof. Ajit Seshadri, Head- Environment, The Vigyan Vijay Foundation, NGO, New Delhi, INDIA , Consultant located at present at Chennai, India
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Re: Emerging issues of Sanitation Workers and Manual Scavengers

1. "Awareness on cleaning" of toilets. washrooms . sewers . drains etc.. ought to be taken up at shool level.
Every child he or she should be put on " Latrine-detail " to become aware and partake in the prctices.
2. All human sludge and wastes arisen from sanitation path, are to be taken up for re use and not wasted or to dump sites .
The guidelines suggested go upto a dream level then to a plan level
Here it gets shelved.for resaons not offfred.
Prof. Ajit Seshadri, Faculty in Marine Engg. Deptt. Vels University, and
Head-Environment , VigyanVijay Foundation, Consultant (Water shed Mngmnt, WWT, WASH, others)Located at present at Chennai, India

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  • CAYA
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Re: Emerging issues of Sanitation Workers and Manual Scavengers

While most innovative and value addition solutions have been suggested, and root of the problem is 1) highly unorganized sector 2) social taboos
1) before we formalise sector, a study or database of workers can be made. Including personal and professional details such as area of work, nature of work and level of manual work, tools if any, family history, earnings, lifestyle, diseases etc. Area of work can be assessed along with the budgets allocated for Sewage Management to understand which areas are managing budgets well and payment differences as per cities etc. Please excuse if such a Database exists. This can be used to evolve hazardous work insurance, part time workers insurance etc
2) Social taboos can be dealt with by either involving community or religious leaders who can promote the message of dignity of labour. Or equating the work to that of a protector or soldier so that communities understand that sanitation work deserves respect
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  • seshadri
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Re: Emerging issues of Sanitation Workers and Manual Scavengers

Dear Ankit,

As you know, we have been talking about this topic for decades and many initiatives and ideas that are directed towards this either adopted easily or go futile based on the areas and group of people. We have started this discussion again. Nice that you spearhead this from Quality Council of India. The most important points to be considered here are the role of administration, schools, and media in promoting the needs and resources.
1) Administration has the powers to bring in the required change - especially in removal of manual scavenging. Government /s should come down heavily on the departments encouraging manual scavenging. Alternatively Government/s can offer money for procurement of mechanized scavenging machines for all the cities / metros / towns etc. This could be implemented like JNNURM where most buses are bought by respective Governments.
2) Schools must have a good toilet that teaches the children to go home and educate the parents and relatives on the importance of building toilets.
3) Incentivizing the people those construct toilets for some time - based on use and maintenance
4) I could see actors / actresses talking about this in media, but that should go along with creation of infrastructure. A common man always struggle for money especially for big projects.
5) Removal of commission and corruption in construction of toilets - I understand there is bribe involved in construction of toilets and most of the time the cost is not the same for all areas. Some areas its cheap and in some areas its expensive to construct toilets.
6) I am one of the advocates of making all public toilets free. Still I see all bus stands charging money. One exammple is Pondicherry (I am from Chennai). Though the Lt. Governor could stop open defecation in the busstand she could not make the toilet free for all. Still it is charged. Making free and maintaining a world class toilet will go a long way helping people to understand the importance of having one at home.
7)It require joining hands of Government/s - Civil Society Organizations - Implementing Agencies - Animators - Common Public
8 ) A perfect collaboration will do miracles.
9) Hence it should be "CEEE" - Create (an ecosystem), Educate (teach people on the use and merits), Empower (provide sufficient resource for people to use / construct) and Enjoy (a happy environment).
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  • ANSHUMAN
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Re: Emerging issues of Sanitation Workers and Manual Scavengers

Dear Ankit,

Efforts to skill India is not new. It has been part of India’s policy interventions over the past six decades. What is new is the focused emphasis, with the setting up of National Skills Development Corporation (NSDC) in 2009 and a National Policy on Skill Development and Entrepreneurship in 2015.

The National Policy on Skill Development estimates that 109.73 million additional skilled workforce will be required by 2022 across 24 key sectors identified by NSDC. NSDC has come up with the portfolio of 2000 plus job roles categorised under 39 sector skill councils. One such skill council is Green Jobs. It focuses on skills in waste management, renewable energy, green transportation, which are directly related to the environment. A major target of Green Jobs is to ensure safe sanitation practices in urban local bodies, commonly called municipalities. It is sanitation workers who will then need to be skilled to perform safe sanitation practices.

Majority of sanitation workers in India perform “yellow” and “black” jobs. Manual scavenging is a “yellow” job, and “black” jobs are done by those workers who clean our cities’ drains manually. Will they get to ride this dream of “green jobs”, especially when skilling sanitation workforce is not a priority at the municipality level?

The exclusion is deeper than the lack of prioritisation of skilling sanitation workers. Do we have data on the number of sanitation workers across the country who perform “yellow” or “black” jobs, and need to be skilled for “green”, safer livelihood options, either as a sanitation worker or in an alternative job? No one has the answer, not even municipalities. Media reports suggest there are still 1.2 million people engaged in yellow jobs, and out of these 90% are women.

One may think that the numbers can be counted through those employed in different service arrangements through the municipality. There are various permutations and combinations which give employment to sanitation workers. The first, and most sought after of course, is a regular job -- those who are on the payrolls of the municipality and get all the benefits as other employees. The second is contractual or ad-hoc sanitation workers -- they are on the payroll of the municipality too but their service conditions are different from regular employees. This makes them vulnerable in terms of their entitlements and job security. Both these categories should be easy enough to count, since they are on the payroll of the municipality? Will the number be accurate? We are familiar with the stories of “ghost workers” in municipalities. MCD recently admitted that it has 22,000 ghost workers!
Regular and ad-hoc categories of sanitation workers are attached to workers unions; their rights are somewhat secured by unions as pressure groups. The union membership records too can be a source from which to count the sanitation workforce?

The third category of contractual daily wagers is attached to a contractor (private, or NGOs), to whom the municipality has outsourced the sanitation work. These workers are highly vulnerable in terms of their service conditions. They can be counted by asking the contractor to provide employment records. How can we be sure that these contractors are keeping correct records? These contractors also hire workers on demand, on a daily basis, as and when required. Do they keep records of such workers?

There is yet another category -- the sublet worker, someone to whom a regular or ad-hoc municipal sanitation worker has sublet his/her job. Being illegal, they have no service conditions, work for below minimum wage, barely eke out a living, and remain uncounted.

If there are so many categories of sanitation workers, all keeping our cities clean, many employed to perform the “yellow and black” jobs, how will the municipality count the actual number of sanitation workers in a city? And if the municipality has the capacity and is smart enough to figure out this number, how will it ensure that the right people get skilled in “green” jobs? How will they ensure the inclusion of genders and castes in those who are chosen to be skilled?

Targeted awareness generation and information dissemination of available skilling opportunities among those who are doing these “dirty jobs” can lead to individuals making an informed choice of upskilling themselves and getting linked to opportunities for enhanced, “green” livelihood options. But, who is going to do this? Sustained awareness generation is complex and time consuming. Does the municipality have the skills, capacities and resources to do this? Are NSDC and skilling centres ready to take up this pre-skilling process? Can sanitation workers unions be persuaded to take on this responsibility? Is civil society, such as RWAs, traders associations, Lions Club and students, ready to facilitate this process and commit to bringing this change?

Please find below link to the study done by PRIA on state of Women sanitation workers in Jhansi, Uttar Pradesh "Bodies of Accumulation - A study on women sanitation workers
pria.org/uploaded_files/article_category...h%20Brief-Jhansi.pdf

We are doing similar studies for Ajmer (Rajasthan) and Muzaffarpur (Bihar) and these will be soon available at pria.org/resources-engaged-citizens-responsive-city-30-549

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  • JaisonThomas
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Re: Emerging issues of Sanitation Workers and Manual Scavengers

Dear Ankit,

I totally echo your sentiments that governments and stakeholders at multiple levels, including the civil society need to come together to address this issue. As I see, this has been a very unregulated area of work. WaterAid India has been working with a number of actors specifically looking at advancing the rights and freedoms of Manual Scavengers in India. The basis of this work is around effective implementation of Prohibition of employment of Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act (2013).

The fact remains that while there are provisions relating to various institutions responsible for implementation of the provisions of the act, including monitoring and rehabilitation programs for manual scavengers, they have largely remained in paper. I think there is greater need for CSOs and other interested stakeholders to come together to empower the community to access their rights and entitlements.

As I see there are no such laws with regard to 'sanitation workers' as such. Yes, with India moving to ODF, the question of FSM will emerge as a key health and environmental issue. The down side of this development would be the continued employment of manual scavengers and sanitation workers to deal with the fecal sludge - with no protection, safety gear, extremely poor working conditions endangering their health and right to life as well s to alternate dignified occupations.

CSOs and other enlightened citizens need raise this important issue and collectively advocate for strong regulation and adequate budget allocations, including for alternate livelihood options(entrepreneurial models).

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  • depinder
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  • Depinder Kapur is currently Director Water Programme at Centre for Science and Environment, Delhi.
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Re: Emerging issues of Sanitation Workers and Manual Scavengers

A consultation was held at NIUA in April 2018 on Sanitation Workers safety, that broadly falls under the popular heading of “manual scavenging” but is not restricted to cleaning of septic tanks alone. Since “manual scavenging” is legislated as a banned activity with penalties, city and town officials deny that it exists. There have been several incidents of deaths and injury of workers engaged in cleaning not only septic tank toilets but also sewers.

The consultation had a presentation made by Delhi Sanitation Workers Union represented by Ms. Hemlata and Mr. Ashok and their colleagues alongwith Ms. Sowmyaa Bhardwaj of PRAXIS.

The consultation brought about many hard hitting observations and facts that are usually not addressed in popular reporting on this issue. For example how many workers are engaged in the work on manual cleaning of sewers and septic tanks in Delhi and other cities and towns of India? How is the network sewers cleaned, how is work distributed across divisions and zones, what machines are used and what is their status? How is the manual cleaning work organised in terms of contracting, what about Municipal laws for workers safety and other related issues of training and their health safety?

Th consultation brought out that there could be anywhere from 20 to 30,000 workers engaged in manual cleaning of sewers and septic tanks in Delhi or the NCR. The Union representatives claimed that there were very few deaths in the manual sewer and septage cleaning work prior to the year 2000. More deaths of workers have been reporting since the year 2000 when the number of sanitation workers engaged full time employees of Delhi Jal Board has been falling with no fresh recruitments. That this number of workers has fallen from 7000 to 700. For the 32 Sanitary Divisions of DJB of Delhi, you need to employ approx. 300 workers per Division. While people complain that workers are not doing their job, more and more workers are dying because of poor working conditions and lack of training.

For full report with recommendations can be downloaded from our portal

scbp.niua.org/content/wash-knowledge-update-issue-1
Depinder Kapur is Director Water Programme at Centre for Science and Environment. He has taight at Shiv Nadar University and has lead the Sanitation Capacity Building Platform(SCBP) of National Institute of Urban Affairs. His professional engagements have been with AKRSP(Program Officer Forestry), SPWD(Sr. Program Officer), CARE(Director NRM), Oxfam(Program & Advocacy Director), WaterAid India(Country Head) and WSSCC(National Coordinator) and as an independent consultant.

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