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Alarm over sanitation workers’ fate as world marks Toilet Day

Alarm over sanitation workers’ fate as world marks Toilet Day

THE WaterAid Tanzania has raised a red flag over sanitation workers, saying most of them work in unhygienic conditions, which endanger their health and lives.

Sanitation workers are local staff, who work at sanitary places right from the floor to toilets in a chain that ends where waste is disposed or recycled for other purposes.

Their work can include cleaning toilets, emptying pits and septic tanks, cleaning sewers and manholes and operating fuel pump stations and treatment plants.

With the realisation, the Global non-governmental organisation, therefore, on Monday appealed for concerted efforts from different stakeholders to ensure that the staff work in friendly environment, including using necessary protective gears.

The call comes as countries today marks the World Toilet Day, with a theme, ‘Leaving no one behind’.

Reached for a comment, WaterAid Tanzania Project Manager, Twaha Mbaraka said despite providing an essential public service, the workers seem to be often the most marginalized, poor and discriminated members of the society.

“They go about their work with no equipment, protection or legal rights, and often their dignity and human rights are violated,” he added.

However, the global report compiled by the International Labour Organisation (ILO), WaterAid, World Bank and World Health Organisation (WHO) that was recently released paints astonishing real picture on ground.

Though there is no statistics to show the real situation in Tanzania, but in India alone, it is estimated that three sanitation workers die in every five days.

In Dar es Salaam, for instance, it is estimated that 10 per cent of the city is connected to the sewerage system, which means that the majority of the city dwellers rely on other mechanisms to empty their full latrines.

Those who do this work are known as ‘frogmen’ and would be seen manually emptying latrines, often without the correct safety equipment, which is unhygienic and dangerous.

“This situation exposes them to contracting infectious diseases such as cholera, which also puts the general public at risk, because once such a worker is infected, the disease can easily spread to other members,” Mr Mbaraka said, while addressing journalists in the city.

The WaterAid Tanzania has been closely working with sanitation entrepreneurs to create legal enterprises and ensure that such staff work in safe environment and professionally dispose the waste in hygienic manner.

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