Manual Scavenging - It is pity that they have to perform such a job

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  • F H Mughal
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Manual Scavenging

Manual Scavenging

The second picture in: www.pacsindia.org/projects/advocacy-and-...is-manual-scavenging , the subline of which reads “A female manual scavenger carries out her work, emptying a dry latrine in Lucknow district, Uttar Pradesh,” is the sight which can be found in the rural areas of Sindh province, Pakistan.

Look at the picture carefully, the woman covers her nostrils with the “dupatta” she is wearing. And, she is working with bare hands, her feet are uncovered. This is exactly the situation here. Called Dalit in India, here they are called as “bhangies.”

The blog says that the practice is illegal in India. According to my knowledge, that is not the case here.

I feel sad for these human beings. It is pity that they have to perform such a job.

F H Mughal
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Karachi, Pakistan
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  • gabrielahv
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Re: Manual Scavenging

In fact, that is a really sad situation! It is not acceptable that in 2018 with so many technologies, people are still doing this! There are some biodigestor treatment sanitation systems that could fix this situation, the solutions already exist! The question is, why the Government don't work to fix these issues?! Who is taking advantage of this situation?
Sanitary and Environmental Engineer, Graduating in Environmental Consulting.
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  • blevira
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Re: Manual Scavenging

I agree with you that its a pity kind of job. In reality and I will take this with reference to the city that I live where more than 70% is informal settlements and only 7% is covered with sewer system where 90% use pit latrines and septic tanks. The city is flat and its along the coastal so you can imagine the filling up of pits during rain and due to sea water intrusion. Most of the people living in these settlements are poor and cant afford mechanical emptying. On top of that, it is difficult to negotiate through the alleys as the houses are so close to each other. So the only relying solution is manual emptying services. I recently conducted a study to one of these settlements here in the city (n=492) and it appeared that above 50% opted for manual emptying the last time they emptied their toilets. I think scavengers (frogmen or vyura in our country language) should also be considered when looking for the FS management solution. People look for cheap emptying services and ask themselves as to why should they invest so much on waste as they still don't understand the importance of managing their waste at any cost. And the reality is that they cant afford! In my opinion I think that scavengers need to be recognized, enabled with working gears and equipment and at last be involved in small decentralized sanitation systems projects to offer service to poor communities at reasonable costs.
Beda Modest Levira
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Ifakara Health Institute (IHI)
Tanzania, East Africa
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  • Elisabeth
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Re: Manual Scavenging

Dear Beda,
Thanks for your forum post. Would you like to also share with us the study in Tanzania that you mentioned? If so, please attach it to a reply post. Who funded the study?

For those interested in the topic of "manual scavenging" please find previous discussion threads by putting "manual scavenging" into the search field above. We've had quite a few interesting discussions on this topic.

There is also a Wikipedia article on this topic which I have tried to keep up to date (more work needed):
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manual_scavenging

I have a question: I think the term "manual scavenging" is only actively used in India. Other countries call it "manual pit emptying" (versus mechanised or mechanical pit emptying). Do you agree with me? E.g. in Tanzania do you use the term "manual scavenging"?

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  • donaldkasongi
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Re: Manual Scavenging

Hi Elisabeth, it is true that Manual scavenging in Tanzania is popularly known as "Manual pit emptying ".....
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  • blevira
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Re: Manual Scavenging

Dear Elizabeth,

Apology for the late reply. I will share the study once I finalize it, I am happy to do so. Yes, in Tanzania we call it manual pit emptying and it is done by men titled frogmen ("vyura" in our language). This study is funded by DFID through HDIF.

Regards,
Beda Modest Levira
Environmental engineer and researcher
Ifakara Health Institute (IHI)
Tanzania, East Africa
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  • AjitSeshadri
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Re: Manual Scavenging

Dear Mrmbers.
No doubt it is a pity that manual scavenging is a tough and in a way, a job many will dislike to do.
But it always ought to be done, only that the person/s doing it ought to have SWPs ..ie safe work practices .
They need to wear PPEs protective gear . Also SOPs to be adhered to on operative practices.
System and others are duly secure and personnel with rescue gear etc.
This work can be akin to technical personnel doing jobs on HT electrical lines etc.
Manual intervention is needed to ensure apt deliveries and satisfaction.
Well wishes.
Prof. Ajit Seshadri.
Prof. Ajit Seshadri, Senior Faculty in Marine Engg. Deptt. Vels University, and
Environment Consultant (Water shed Mngmnt, WWT, WASH, others) Chennai, India
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  • samshancn
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Re: Manual Scavenging

I quite agree with you. 1) It is an inevitable work assdociated with the latrines, septic tanks or composting toilets in heavily populated areas where mechanical scavengers are inaccessible or the residents cannot afford the civil utility service. However, people (no matter men or women) doing this work should be provided with uniforms, gloves, shoes and sanitary masks. 2) The workers or the relative management offices should be provided with storage equipment for collecting and composting the human wastes. When they learn the technic of recycling the excreta safely, it is no longer a deplorable job.
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  • AjitSeshadri
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Re: Manual Scavenging

Dear Member.

We all need to agree that the task of entering sewage conveyance system at pipes, connections, accessories has to be done.

It is only that adequate safe guards are taken by having Protective Gear, and ensuring that the part of system under care is safe and secure for personnel to attend and man-entry safe.

Also all safeguards are present and rescue and relief measures are readily available at all times. And no ontoward incidents occur.

Well wishes.
Prof Ajit Seshadri .
Prof. Ajit Seshadri, Senior Faculty in Marine Engg. Deptt. Vels University, and
Environment Consultant (Water shed Mngmnt, WWT, WASH, others) Chennai, India
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  • AjitSeshadri
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Re: Emerging issues of Sanitation Workers and Manual Scavengers

Dear SuSana Members,
I attach a press cutting The Hindu, 22 Dec, 2019, detailing the points as below:
1. 286 deaths observed in 8 Nos. Indian states during 2016-2019, 3 years on account manual cleaning of sewerage systems and sewers Etc.

2. Employment of Scavengers for manual cleaning is prohibited since 2013 as per Act.-

3. Lead person Mr. Bezwada Wilson of Safai Karamchari Andoloan remarked that 1760 deaths have occurred and
only 286 deaths have been reported.

4. Mr. Bindeshwar Pathak of Sulabh Organisation opined that there are devices to measure the gas contents in tanks and for doing cleaning of the sewers and systems

5. All India data states that there are 60,440 manual scavengers in 17 states in India.

General Observation:

1. Imminent dangers exist in the sewers and sewerage systems, there is presence of dangerous lethal gases present.

2. Precisely it can be pointed out there is Methane, other Hydro Carbonaceous gases, Hydrogen Sulphide , CO2, SO2, N2 and others,

3. All the gases as indicated above are lethal and very harmful for human system,

4. It is probable that even in minimal amount, they get inducted into human respiratory system, and instantaneously the ill effects are felt which leads to failure of human respiratory and other functional systems, leading to fatal consequences,

I have covered certain pertinent aspects, as given above in this Susana Forum for apprising the Members in Developing Countries to become aware of the implications and take pre-emptive action Etc.

Well Wishes,

Prof Ajit Seshadri ,
Prof. Ajit Seshadri, Senior Faculty in Marine Engg. Deptt. Vels University, and
Environment Consultant (Water shed Mngmnt, WWT, WASH, others) Chennai, India
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  • ElineBakkerIRC
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Re: Emerging issues of Sanitation Workers and Manual Scavengers

Dear Prof Ajit et al.,

Thank you for raising important points regarding worker's safety and rights, SOPs and proper protection, etc. WaterAid seems to be putting in a lot of effort in raising awareness, like this interactive site with stories from different places, this story: Human Rights? But not for sanitation workers. and this interview with Bezwada Wilson . I really liked what Bezwada Wilson had to say: "Whatever the wages, whatever the safety gear, human beings should not clean other people's shit."

I'm curious, Professor (and others are welcomed), what are your thoughts on these SOPs Cleaning of Sewers and Septic Tanks from India by the Ministry of Housing and Municipal Faecal Sludge Management from Gujarat? Is there compliance/some adherence with the SOPs by certain service providers?

PS. I blogged about the issue late last year: Health and Safety of Sanitation Workers is on the line - this blog does not touch upon identity and castes, which is a crucial conversation to also be having.

Many thanks,
Eline
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  • AjitSeshadri
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Re: Emerging issues of Sanitation Workers and Manual Scavengers

Dear SuSanA Members, esp. Eline et all

I am not a WatSan person but have ovr years built up passion and interest.
Being a Mariner, have operated and maintained ( O&M ed ) STP systems on board ships as per IMO Pollution rules on Anexures 4 and 5.
Have been aware of many instances of fetal in nature, and have dealt with the Ops ssms and SOPs and SWPs Etc.

Human intervention cannot be totally avoided, because if even machines are used, one needs to ensure all is done well, because STP and systems, need to be functional 24x7 with no stoppages are accepted.

All find it demeaning to work on these ssms, and junior most gets the duty to work on the STPssm Etc.
In the sanitation field too the work of cleaning is given to only select group of workers.

In ships, we follow a strict regime of pre- maintainance checks, by way of check lists and practices.
Termed as spaces made ' gas free' , fit for man-entry, fit for cold work, fit for hot-work Etc..
We use SCBA, Self contained breathing apparatus, masks for breathing , protection-suits and cleaning gear Etc.

In Communities, We need massive awareness and participation campaigns to ensure that precautions are taken well, everywhere.
Like no one drinks water from unknown source and carry bottles of water always. Even school children are aware of safeties of drnkng water .

The risks in STP systems are very intricate, the gas is odourless and lethal even in minute proportions,
Gas meters are there to sense their presence and % ges also.
But as the costs are more, it is at most occasions avoided.
For a megre INR 200 to 1000 ie 3 to 15 USD, a tank is cleaned, and daily rate per person is also very similar.

As Electric HT workers are trained and safeties followed, similar procedures ie SOPs and SWPs, need to be followed.

With well wishes, I invite views and comments for doing good to communities.

Prof Ajit Seshadri. Chennai INDIA.
Prof. Ajit Seshadri, Senior Faculty in Marine Engg. Deptt. Vels University, and
Environment Consultant (Water shed Mngmnt, WWT, WASH, others) Chennai, India
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