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Global advocacy for the health, safety and dignity of sanitation workers

2020 - 2024 • Initiative for Sanitation Workers (a global advocacy partnership between ILO, SNV, WHO, World Bank and WaterAid)


Global advocacy project for the health, safety and dignity of sanitation workers, undertaken by the Initiative for Sanitation Workers (ISW), which is a global advocacy partnership between SNV, ILO, World Bank, WHO and WaterAid


1. ILO South Asia regional tripartite workshop with governments, employers and workers’ representatives

2. Highlighting the issues of sanitation workers at global and national platforms, aiming towards adoption of commitments to strengthen sanitation workers’ rights in national/regional/global declarations or events

3. Supporting sanitation workers’ organizations and networks in their efforts for mobilization of workers, and engagement with local authorities

4. Integrating initiatives to support sanitation workers as part of World Bank’s urban sanitation projects

5. Building multimedia content on sanitation workers’ rights, challenges and good practices, and its dissemination with local as well as global stakeholders

6. Disseminating existing knowledge and resources, and project learnings and outputs at various global and national events and conferences.

7. Working with employers’ and workers’ organizations in order to support their engagement with informal sanitation workers

8. Developing a research agenda, highlighting the critical under-researched themes and knowledge gaps

9. Incentivising and supporting applied research on sanitation workers’ issues, in collaboration with workers and their representatives

10. Review of existing procedures, guidelines, and local regulations; and consolidation in the form of case studies and checklists

11. Review of existing and emerging technological innovations which protect the health, safety and dignity of sanitation workers; identification of good practices and gaps in innovation

12. Developing checklists for gathering data on sanitation workers; inclusion of indicators on sanitation workers in the GLAAS

13. Systematic review of evidence on sanitation worker safety

14. Developing a user-friendly online platform focusing on sanitation workers

Countries of activity

Location of main activity


1. Support inclusion of sanitation workers’ rights in government and civil society political agendas at the national and local levels

2. Influence the WASH and labour sectors to ensure sanitation workers’ rights are mainstreamed in WASH sector implementation and monitoring

3. Support research initiatives and products which address knowledge gaps (including gender dimensions) that are critical to supporting political prioritization and implementation for sanitation workers.

Further information

Sanitation workers – including pit emptiers, sewer workers, and others involved in faecal waste management – provide an essential public service but at the cost of their dignity, safety, health, and living conditions. Often invisible, unquantified, and ostracized, they are exposed to serious health and safety hazards risking illness, injury, or even death. Sanitation workers deserve greater recognition and attention, and policy and regulatory reforms aimed at safeguarding their rights, as highlighted in the 2019 assessment on the Health, Safety and Dignity of Sanitation Workers by WHO, ILO, World Bank and WaterAid (available at:

Contact information

Prerana Somani
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Filter tags

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Container based systems (CBS) Emptying and transport (non sewered) Faecal sludge treatment processes Global Health and hygiene International NGO Multilateral organisation Operation, maintenance and sustainable services Practitioners Public awareness, advocacy and civil society engagement Treatment of faecal sludge Urban (entire city)

United Kingdom

International NGO focused on water, sanitation and hygiene in low-income countries

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Kanika Singh (kanikawa)

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