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

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

Dear SuSanA Members.

We have had many posts since long,  on the definition of worker and specification of work, in the sanitation and waste management field is turning very intricate, however for a common man to identify the title of worker in thse types of work , the best title would be "Sanitation worker". 

The specification of the work done by the concerned, can be indicated in the "Work contract " and needed jobs carried out accordingly.

What we have been stressing is that, as the job is needing some skills and care to be followed, Guidance SOPs may be followed. And in working, PPEs to be used for safety of personnel, machinery and others.

Well wishes.
Prof Ajit Seshadri .  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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  • paresh
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Re: Sanitation worker, waste collector, manual scavenger - same thing? One, two or three Wikipedia articles?

Dear Elisabeth,
In the webinar today, Sharada Prasad who has worked extensively on issues of sanitation workers made an interesting point. The spectrum of activities that can be called as sanitation work is very broad; includes manual scavenging, cleaning of sewers, emptying on-site sanitation systems, cleaning storm water drains, etc. One thing which struck me was the mention of workers involved in annual maintenance of storm water drains.

(Sharada didn't say it in as much words, but here is my understanding of his reasoning) 
Typically, in cities and villages in South Asia (may be true for other South-East Asia as well) storm water drains are cleaned and maintenance work carried out before the onset of monsoons. Since, on-site systems are the norm and systems are far from perfect, some part of wastewater inadvertently ends up in these drains (reasons include direct disposal of blackwater from some houses or supernatant from septic tanks, grey water). Consequently, the workers hired as construction workers for the job come in contact with wastewater. Sharada is of the opinion that these workers should also be referred to as sanitation workers and the risk they face needs to be recognised. 

I understand, we may be far from adding this to Wikipedia for lack of adequate work and reference, but thought it was important to  inform the forum. 

Regards
paresh
Paresh Chhajed-Picha
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  • Elisabeth
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Re: Sanitation worker, waste collector, manual scavenger - same thing? One, two or three Wikipedia articles?

Thanks for pointing this out, Paresh. I agree with you that stormwater drainage cleaning is another task that sanitation workers may be involved with. Even if there was no wastewater in the stormwater drains, it's still part of sanitation - i.e. drainage being the "lesser known" part of sanitation, see also discussion about sanitation definition here

The Wikipedia article about Sanitation worker starts like this and includes stormwater drains cleaning in the third sentence:

sanitation worker (or sanitary worker) is a person responsible for cleaning, maintaining, operating, or emptying the equipment or technology at any step of the  sanitation  chain. [1] :2 This is the definition used in the narrower sense within the  WASH  sector. More broadly speaking, sanitation workers may also be involved in cleaning  streets parks public spaces sewers stormwater drains  and  public toilets . [2]  Another definition is: "The moment an individual’s waste is outsourced to another, it becomes sanitation work." [3] :4

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sanitation_worker

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Elisabeth
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Dr. Elisabeth von Muench
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  • EMary
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  • Researcher by profession. Experienced in content creation, research, training and project management and coordination in the Sanitation sector. One of the Moderators in this forum.
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Re: Sanitation worker, waste collector, manual scavenger - same thing? One, two or three Wikipedia articles?

Interesting points in the discussion.  I recently came across a training done by CDD Society for Sanitation Health Workers on safe collection and disposal of discarded Covid19 medical waste and on personal hygiene practices (Twitter link to CDD Society's status) .

It is an interesting usage of the term and arising from the need of the hour. 

I do agree that with their article defining the roles of sanitation workers, WHO brings to light the human link in the sanitation value chain who is vital in many regions for the existence of the sanitation management services. And it shows that terms are used and adapted to highlight/ uplift the section of people to bring them out of sidelines to mainstream.

On side note, I have come across the term Sanitation Worker being used in companies to posting jobs with the tasks of "sanitation and upkeep of facilities and facets of operation within a company" in South Africa , further broadening the usage of the term.

Best,

Eva
Eva Mary

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Faecal Sludge Management Alliance
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