How to make sanitation workers more visible - with SFDs!

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  • rkaupp
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How to make sanitation workers more visible - with SFDs!

Hi everybody,

As you know many of us are passionate about the terrible working conditions of sanitation workers, despite their essential work. A common question is how to make them more visible, especially to authorities. Therefore we have asked Andy Peal and Chilala Haankuku Kapulu to look into a methodology to quantify and profile them. And this can be done by incorporating such findings in one of our favourite tools: Shit-Flow Diagrams! 

See WaterAid's blog for the summary and the complete report for more details. We will test this - and be curious about other agencies willing to do that too.
Rémi Kaupp
Urban Sanitation Advisor, WaterAid
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  • paresh
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Re: How to make sanitation workers more visible - with SFDs!

Thanks Remi for introducing to us this fascinating tool. I particularly liked the fact that like SFD reports, different levels of reports based on quality and depth of information have been considered. An important lesson from SFDs has been incorporated. It also addresses one of the critiques of the SFD and the service chain - that they are too focused on physical flow of waste while neglecting the flow of labour, political power and finance without which the material flows cannot exist ( Hyun et al, 2019 ). 
The other lesson of having a manual which standardises outputs and therefore makes them comparable over geography and temporally is incorporated, which is great. This will open up opportunities for regional and global monitoring of the status of sanitation workers. 

Reproducing below (from the manual), the types of workers proposed to be considered in such an assessment 

I am wondering how workers involved in sweeping public streets and cleaning storm water drains can be included in such an analysis. I am reminded of an argument by Prof. Sharada Prasad - given realities of the Global South, these workers end up working with human and animal excreta. Including them would recognise this fact and also encourage municipalities and contractors to provide them with equipment and PPE to deal with excreta safely.  

An analysis along the  the 4 dimensions described in the report/manual, viz; physical security, financial security, legal security and dignity of all sanitation workers (incl. street sweepers for example) can nonetheless be carried out. This is especially important in cities where wastewater/excreta management services are not provided and sanitation is equivalent to SWM for the local authorities. 

I very much like the tool and look forward to using it in my own work in the future. I am sure, like the SFDs, this tool will encourage municipalities to collect and collate the required information. As the blog you shared points out

often municipal authorities (and others responsible for sanitation services) don’t even know how many workers operate in their cities, let alone the different types, their modes of employment, legal status, the conditions they work in or how many will be needed in the future. 

Regards
paresh
Paresh Chhajed-Picha
Researcher at Indian Institute of Technology - Bombay, India
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  • Chaiwe
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Re: How to make sanitation workers more visible - with SFDs!

Hello Remi,

I am curious about how far this activity has gone. Are there any new results to share? 

I had similar thoughts as Paresh when I read your post, with respect to how limiting the SFD can be for something of this sort. allow me to quote a resource he shared:

one of the critiques of the SFD and the service chain - that they are too focused on physical flow of waste while neglecting the flow of labour, political power and finance without which the material flows cannot exist (  Hyun et al, 2019  )

I look forward to your feedback.

Regards,
Chaiwe
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(With financial support by GIZ from June to October 2021)

Chaiwe Mushauko-Sanderse BSc. NRM, MPH
Independent consultant located in Lusaka, Zambia
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  • rkaupp
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Re: How to make sanitation workers more visible - with SFDs!

Hello, from what I know in Zambia, NWASCO (regulator) is using this for assessments in Lusaka and another city. No results yet but we'll share when we know more!
Rémi Kaupp
Urban Sanitation Advisor, WaterAid
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