Sanitation worker, waste collector, manual scavenger - same thing? One, two or three Wikipedia articles?

503 views

  • Elisabeth
  • Elisabeth's Avatar
    Topic Author
  • Moderator of this Forum; Freelance consultant and Wikipedian (former roles: program manager, lecturer, process engineer for wastewater treatment plants)
  • Posts: 2959
  • Karma: 54
  • Likes received: 791

Sanitation worker, waste collector, manual scavenger - same thing? One, two or three Wikipedia articles?

"Sanitation workers" is becoming a bigger topic - rightly so. We even have a sub-category for that here on the forum now to reflect this.

For outsiders, if they hear the term "sanitation workers" they may be unsure what that is. They may go to Google or directly to Wikipedia to find out what it is (the Wikipedia entry comes up third in a Google search).

What they find is this, i.e. a redirect to "waste collector":
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Waste_collector

From that page they can click through to "manual scavenger" to read about the situation in India.

Are we satisfied with this? I wonder if "sanitation worker" should become a separate article to "waste collector". Perhaps "sanitation worker" is overarching to "waste collector"? The article on "manual scavenging" could probably stay more or less like it is, i.e. focused on just India and the specifics there, e.g. caste-based occupation, outlawed etc.

Please provide your feedback. I have also written about it here on the talk page in Wikipedia: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:Waste_collector

Regards,
Elisabeth
Head moderator of this discussion forum
(Funded via consultancy contract with Skat Foundation funded by WSSCC)

Dr. Elisabeth von Muench
Independent consultant located in Brisbane, Australia
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Twitter: @EvMuench
Sanitation Wikipedia project leader: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:WikiProject_Sanitation
My Wikipedia user profile: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:EMsmile
The following user(s) like this post: AjitSeshadri
You need to login to reply
  • AjitSeshadri
  • AjitSeshadri's Avatar
  • Marine Chief Engineer by profession (1971- present) and at present Senior Faculty in Marine Engg. Deptt. Vels University, Chennai, India. Also proficient in giving Environmental solutions, Prof. Ajit Seshadri, Environment Consultant located at Chennai, India
  • Posts: 143
  • Likes received: 21

Re: Sanitation worker, waste collector, manual scavenger - same thing? One, two or three Wikipedia articles?

Dear Elisabeth and other SuSanA Members.

This term Sanitation Worker, or Waste Collector, Conservancy Worker, Worker in Manual Scavenging path, or any others -
All the above practices, have a noble role to preform for the Society at large.

In India and in most developing countries, this sector is not organised and no clear- cut Rules and Regulations even if laid are not adhered to while practices are carried out on a daily basis.
As Government Departments have formulated Rules and Regulations in the case of Electrical H/T transmission lines Etc, and workers follow Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) with use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) .
Similar practices need to be adhered to in the Sanitation field.

Certain sanitation-work spaces are dangerous and accidents, keep happening with no lessons learnt while age- old practices are followed, putting everyone to risks.

Government machinery ought to bring in strict enforcement with penal actions for defaulters Etc.

Notings issued in the interest of the workers community in the clean up practices.
Prof. Ajit Seshadri, Senior Faculty in Marine Engg. Deptt. Vels University, and
Environment Consultant (Water shed Mngmnt, WWT, WASH, others) Chennai, India
You need to login to reply
  • paresh
  • paresh's Avatar
  • Budding researcher, interested in governance, public policy, finance, its politics and social justice. Urban planner by training, Ex. C-WAS, India. I am the patient one
  • Posts: 48
  • Karma: 2
  • Likes received: 23

Re: Sanitation worker, waste collector, manual scavenger - same thing? One, two or three Wikipedia articles?

Dear Elisabeth,
I agree that sanitation worker is a bigger topic; waste collector and manual scavenger are sub-topics. There are certainly many other types of workers (street sweepers, gutter cleaners, collection-vehicle drivers, workers on emptying trucks, etc.) that should be considered under the larger topic. A separate Wikipedia article on sanitation workers will certainly be of value and could include a list of activities sanitation workers are involved in. In practice, there is also likely to be a hierarchy within this group of activities; It certainly does exist in many parts of India. For example, work dealing with excreta is considered inferior compared to work dealing with solid waste.

I also agree with Prof. Sheshadri that the sector is not organised in many developing countries and there is a lack of SoPs. Even when SoPs are in place, workers directly employed by the government follow them while those employed by private contractors may be forced to work around them. he government machinery often turns a blind eye to get the work done and keep the system running but will swing into action against the contractor in case of fatalities. This is exactly the point raised in the video posted by Prof Sheshadri in his post dated 12th Jan in the thread related to manual scavenging; see here
forum.susana.org/sanitation-workers/2200...a-job?start=12#28849

Regards
paresh
Paresh Chhajed-Picha
Researcher at Indian Institute of Technology - Bombay, India
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Twitter: @Sparsh85

Co-moderator of this discussion forum
(Funded via internship contract with Skat Foundation funded by WSSCC)
You need to login to reply
  • CharlotteM
  • CharlotteM's Avatar
  • Co-moderator of the forum. Marketer by profession. Expertise in sanitation social marketing targeting behavior change and positive uptake of water and sanitation projects for sustainability and maximum impact. I am the bubbly one.
  • Posts: 47
  • Karma: 2
  • Likes received: 15

Re: Sanitation worker, waste collector, manual scavenger - same thing? One, two or three Wikipedia articles?

Dear Elisabeth,
Thank you for your post on the issue of sanitation workers viz a vi waste collector. I tend to believe that “sanitation worker” should be the main topic that can be considered when highlighting the issues to do with sanitation. Currently “waste worker” leaves the question of whether it is solid waste collection or faecal sludge collection. The definition given by Wikipedia on sanitation is:

“..refers to public health conditions related to clean drinking water and adequate treatment and disposal of human excreta and sewage.”

The “Sanitation worker” title will then focus on the different types of workers giving a clearer breakdown on the many forms of handling human waste that are being carried out in the various parts of the world.
That is my opinion on this.

Regards
Charlotte
Co-moderator of the discussion forum
(Funded via consultancy contract with Skat Foundation funded by WSSCC)



Charlotte Mong'ina Maua
Sanitation Consultant

M +254 (0) 723 571 463
E This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
L: Nairobi, Kenya
You need to login to reply
  • Elisabeth
  • Elisabeth's Avatar
    Topic Author
  • Moderator of this Forum; Freelance consultant and Wikipedian (former roles: program manager, lecturer, process engineer for wastewater treatment plants)
  • Posts: 2959
  • Karma: 54
  • Likes received: 791

Re: Sanitation worker, waste collector, manual scavenger - same thing? One, two or three Wikipedia articles?

Thank you for your inputs so far. I am going to set up a separate Wikipedia article on "sanitation worker" now. But I am not sure we can claim it to be the overarching term. I am saying this because the landmark publication by World Bank Group, World Health Organization, International Labour Organization, Water Aid from 2019 defines sanitation worker as:

"The term sanitation workers refers to all people—employed or otherwise—
responsible for cleaning, maintaining, operating, or
emptying a sanitation technology at any step of the
sanitation chain. This includes toilet
cleaners and caretakers in domestic, public, and
institutional settings; those who empty pits and septic tanks once full and other fecal sludge handlers;
those who clean sewers and manholes; and those
who work at sewage and fecal waste treatment and
disposal sites (Dalberg Advisors 2017; WHO 2018). "


So they do not include the solid waste collection workers in this (which I find a bit of a pity).

Do we have any other publications available that define sanitation workers differently (more broadly?) which we can cite for comparison purposes? I can only add information on Wikipedia if I have publications to cite.

Regards,
Elisabeth
Head moderator of this discussion forum
(Funded via consultancy contract with Skat Foundation funded by WSSCC)

Dr. Elisabeth von Muench
Independent consultant located in Brisbane, Australia
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Twitter: @EvMuench
Sanitation Wikipedia project leader: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:WikiProject_Sanitation
My Wikipedia user profile: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:EMsmile
The following user(s) like this post: AjitSeshadri
You need to login to reply
  • AjitSeshadri
  • AjitSeshadri's Avatar
  • Marine Chief Engineer by profession (1971- present) and at present Senior Faculty in Marine Engg. Deptt. Vels University, Chennai, India. Also proficient in giving Environmental solutions, Prof. Ajit Seshadri, Environment Consultant located at Chennai, India
  • Posts: 143
  • Likes received: 21

Re: Sanitation worker, waste collector, manual scavenger - same thing? One, two or three Wikipedia articles?

Dear Dr Elisabeth.
We need a mention of all others cleaning and maintaining works left out eg
The term - solid waste collection - is left out..
This if I am not mistaken could be under " conservancy works "
Willing to assist..
Well wishes.
Prof. Ajit Seshadri, Senior Faculty in Marine Engg. Deptt. Vels University, and
Environment Consultant (Water shed Mngmnt, WWT, WASH, others) Chennai, India
You need to login to reply
  • Elisabeth
  • Elisabeth's Avatar
    Topic Author
  • Moderator of this Forum; Freelance consultant and Wikipedian (former roles: program manager, lecturer, process engineer for wastewater treatment plants)
  • Posts: 2959
  • Karma: 54
  • Likes received: 791

Re: Sanitation worker, waste collector, manual scavenger - same thing? One, two or three Wikipedia articles?

Here is what the new Wikipedia article on "Sanitation worker" (created by me today) looks like:
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sanitation_worker

Help needed to make it better. Please suggest more content and more references that should be added.

E.g. it would be interesting if we found other definitions for the term (personally I think "solid waste collectors" should be part of "sanitation workers" just like solid waste management is part of sanitation!). So far we have cited the Worldbank definition but we could also cite others if they exist.

Ajit, what is a "conservancy worker" and is that perhaps Indian English?

Regards,
Elisabeth
Head moderator of this discussion forum
(Funded via consultancy contract with Skat Foundation funded by WSSCC)

Dr. Elisabeth von Muench
Independent consultant located in Brisbane, Australia
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Twitter: @EvMuench
Sanitation Wikipedia project leader: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:WikiProject_Sanitation
My Wikipedia user profile: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:EMsmile
You need to login to reply
  • pson
  • Technical Support Unit, WSSCC
  • Posts: 1
  • Likes received: 1

Re: Sanitation worker, waste collector, manual scavenger - same thing? One, two or three Wikipedia articles?

Dear all,

This is a fascinating discussion that I think brings up questions about the purpose and the history of the terminology “sanitation workers.” Broadly, I also agree with you all that “sanitation worker” could be potentially used as an all-encompassing term that covers “manual scavenging” and solid waste collection. However, as Elisabeth has indicated, the landmark World Bank/WHO/ILO/WaterAid publication ( www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/---ed_d...tion/wcms_728054.pdf ) uses the term more narrowly to describe those working with human excreta and sewage. I do believe, though, that this was a strategic choice that successfully enabled the report to highlight the plight of workers in the WASH sector who are often overlooked in the development sector—all despite their continued social, economic, and legal marginalization.

I do not think that this means that “sanitation worker” should only be used describe those in the WASH sector per se. For example, the Memphis Sanitation Workers’ Strike in 1968, supported by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., brought together both garbage collectors and sewer/drain maintenance workers ( www.memphislibrary.org/diversity/sanitat...tion-workers-strike/ ). The fact “sanitation worker” is used in an overarching way to describe the now-famous event indicates the broader potential of the term. Further, the only time the above-discussed joint report mentions solid waste collectors is when it discusses this event—suggesting that the report itself acknowledges the ability of the term to be used beyond the WASH sector.

I wonder, however, if using the term too broadly could lead to confusion and potentially undo the work that the report has done to zero in on the hardships of those in the WASH sector. I noticed that Waste 360, a U.S.-based industry organization focused on solid waste, recycling, and organics, uses “sanitation worker” to only describe garbage collectors ( www.waste360.com/ ). Some academic articles also do the same ( access.portico.org/Portico/#!journalAUSi...rk:/27927/pgk5t03gsr ). Do we risk losing the focus on precarious WASH sector workers by using the term too broadly?

Perhaps this issue would be resolved with a clear statement (in the Wikipedia entry) that acknowledges the different uses of the word, but reiterates the term’s importance for those in the WASH sector more specifically. It would be interesting to hear about what others think about this.

Kind regards,
Phil
Technical Support Unit, Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC)
Website: www.wsscc.org / Twitter: @WatSanCollabCou / Facebook: WatSanCollabCouncil
The following user(s) like this post: AjitSeshadri
You need to login to reply
  • Elisabeth
  • Elisabeth's Avatar
    Topic Author
  • Moderator of this Forum; Freelance consultant and Wikipedian (former roles: program manager, lecturer, process engineer for wastewater treatment plants)
  • Posts: 2959
  • Karma: 54
  • Likes received: 791

Re: Sanitation worker, waste collector, manual scavenger - same thing? One, two or three Wikipedia articles?

Dear Phil,
Thanks for your thoughtful response! I think we need to do exactly what you said here:

Perhaps this issue would be resolved with a clear statement (in the Wikipedia entry) that acknowledges the different uses of the word, but reiterates the term’s importance for those in the WASH sector more specifically. It would be interesting to hear about what others think about this.


Would you be able to help me get the wording and the references right? Every major statement in Wikipedia needs to be verifiable which means I have to give a source. ( en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Verifiability )
What we sometimes do is write a piece of text and then add "citation needed" as a reminder to other editors to help find a citation. But often the statement actually gets deleted in that case.

Please note the Wikipedia article on "sanitation workers" should describe it for all sectors and for all English-speaking countries. So even if we from the WASH sector wanted to limit "sanitation workers" to exclude solid waste collection, we would still have to acknowledge that elsewhere in the world, the term does include solid waste collection. This is the tricky thing about many terms used in the WASH sector: something means one thing to me, but something else to another... In Wikipedia we have to give a balanced view.

I can start by trying to weave what you wrote into the Wikipedia article, maybe using those two websites that you gave as references although "proper publications" would be better...

Regards,
Elisabeth
Head moderator of this discussion forum
(Funded via consultancy contract with Skat Foundation funded by WSSCC)

Dr. Elisabeth von Muench
Independent consultant located in Brisbane, Australia
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Twitter: @EvMuench
Sanitation Wikipedia project leader: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:WikiProject_Sanitation
My Wikipedia user profile: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:EMsmile
The following user(s) like this post: AjitSeshadri
You need to login to reply
  • Elisabeth
  • Elisabeth's Avatar
    Topic Author
  • Moderator of this Forum; Freelance consultant and Wikipedian (former roles: program manager, lecturer, process engineer for wastewater treatment plants)
  • Posts: 2959
  • Karma: 54
  • Likes received: 791

Re: Sanitation worker, waste collector, manual scavenger - same thing? One, two or three Wikipedia articles?

P.S. I have now added the information that you provided to the Wikipedia article, please check.

In the lead (summary) I have added:

Some organisations use the term specifically for municipal solid waste collectors, others exclude the solid waste sector from its definition.

(since the lead is a summary of the article it does not necessarily require inline citations)

And in the definitions section:

In the United Sates however, some organisations use the term exclusively for municipal solid waste collectors.[3][4] A famous example of "sanitation worker" referring to waste collectors is the Memphis Sanitation Workers’ Strike in 1968, supported by Martin Luther King Jr., which brought together both waste collectors and sewerage maintenance workers.[5]


More work is required to figure out how the term is used colloquially in various English-speaking countries.

Regards,
Elisabeth
Head moderator of this discussion forum
(Funded via consultancy contract with Skat Foundation funded by WSSCC)

Dr. Elisabeth von Muench
Independent consultant located in Brisbane, Australia
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Twitter: @EvMuench
Sanitation Wikipedia project leader: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:WikiProject_Sanitation
My Wikipedia user profile: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:EMsmile
You need to login to reply
Recently active users. Who else has been active?
Time to create page: 0.412 seconds