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Health, Safety, and Dignity of Sanitation Workers: An Initial Assessment

"Examining nine case studies of sanitation workers in low- and middle-income countries"

The global sanitation workforce bridges the gap between sanitation infrastructure and the provision of sanitation services. Sanitation workers provide an essential public service but often at the cost of their dignity, safety, health, and living conditions. They are some of the most v... view more

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Executive Summary: The global sanitation workforce bridges the gap between sanitation infrastructure and the provision of sanitation services.

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Introduction: Beyond operational health and safety risks of working in direct contact with hazardous biological and chemical agents in dangerous environments, sanitation workers also face stigma and social discrimination resulting from the nature of their work.

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Main Findings: The challenges and risks faced by sanitation workers can be categorized into four dimensions: occupational and environmental health and safety, legal and institutional issues, financial insecurity, and social issues.

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Areas of Action: Action areas are identified for focused, coordinated, and reflective efforts and then combined with future research, which could move the agenda to improve the working conditions of sanitation workers forward.

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Next Steps: The four organizations authoring this report are committed to continuing to collaborate with one another and with other development partners to raise awareness about the plight of sanitation workers and make progress on these action areas.

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Case Studies: Each case presents current aspects of sanitation work in addition to, where available, progressive actions aimed at improving sanitation working conditions.