Author : Sulaiman Ahmad Muhammad
Type of publication : Report
Date of publication: November 2021
Globally, 3.3 billion people use on-site sanitation systems with pits, chambers, and septic tanks. These systems accumulate faecal sludge and require regular servicing by sanitation workers to empty, transport, treat, and use/dispose of the sludge.
Sanitation workers are among the most vulnerable groups, often working without protective equipment, job security, proper access to preventive and remedial health care or social protection.
This document presents the working conditions and the enabling environment of sanitation workers in Kano City, the administrative headquarters of Kano State in Nigeria.
The key stakeholders involved in faecal sludge management are:
- Ministry of Environment: The government body entrusted with the affairs of sanitation workers and their practices.
- Primary Health Care Boards (PHCBs): Located within the state Ministry of Health, and responsible for registering sanitation groups/companies and routine inspection.
- Departments of Pollution Control: Located within the Ministry of Environment, and responsible for routine inspection.
- Sanitation Service Providers: mechanical/gully pit emptiers, also known as Vacuum Trucks Owners Association, and manual pit emptiers, also known as Gidan Kowa Da Akwai.
All workers are male, as opposed to the solid waste management sector, which includes women. Overall, there appears to be a lack of coordination between sanitation workers and the government.
Policies and Regulation Framework
The legal and regulatory framework for sanitation workers and FSM is weak at both the national and state level.
At the national level, the literature review identifies the National Environmental (Sanitation and Waste Control) Regulations 2009 regulated by the National Environmental Standards and Regulation Enforcement Agency (NESREA) and the Federal Ministry of Environment.
Weak implementation and lack of coordination among the government bodies is a challenge to ensuring hygienic emptying services.
Kano City seems to have two dysfunctional Wastewater Treatment Plants (WWTPs) and only three faecal sludge disposal sites. Respondents stated that there are not enough disposal sites, and the existing ones don’t have drying beds or fencing to limit access to the sites. As a result, faecal sludge is extensively disposed of untreated into the environment.
Most sanitation workers were forced into this profession to earn a livelihood and are aware of the associated health risks. It appears that poor economic status is the pulling force into sanitation work, with all sanitation workers stating they had no alternative.
Manual and mechanical sanitation service providers lack property for their businesses, including office and parking space. As a result, sanitation workers often squat on open land or near their trucks and face eviction due to temporary occupancy.
Sanitation workers in Kano City face various occupational hazards, including close contact with faecal sludge and injuries and death sustained from equipment.
The assessment revealed that most sanitation workers don’t use PPE (e.g., gloves, face masks, and boots). When asked about safety measures, all sanitation workers unanimously agreed on the importance of using PPE and understood its necessity. For mechanical emptiers, a key challenge is the accessibility and affordability of PPE.
- Reform policies, regulations, guidelines, and the institutional arrangement: This includes the development of a legal framework relating to FSM and the legal rights of sanitation workers, as well as occupational and health hazards and other benefits in line with the International Labour Organization (ILO).
- Provide support to sanitation workers: This includes financial tools such as loans and grants, facilitating linkages with financial institutions, and the provision of tools/equipment, vehicles, and office and parking space.
- Revisit the health and safety guidelines for sanitation workers: This includes ensuring the guidelines are aligned with the ILO standards and informing sanitation workers on the guidelines to ensure compliance.
- Develop and implement a behaviour change campaign on the rights and dignity of sanitation workers: This campaign would target the general public, health workers, NGOs, CBOs, and religious organisations to improve their understanding of sanitation workers and their rights.
- Establish partnerships with various stakeholders: This includes increasing the government’s commitment to sanitation to attract investors to engage in Public-Private Partnerships (PPP).
Les Wathinotes sont soit des résumés de publications sélectionnées par WATHI, conformes aux résumés originaux, soit des versions modifiées des résumés originaux, soit des extraits choisis par WATHI compte tenu de leur pertinence par rapport au thème du Débat. Lorsque les publications et leurs résumés ne sont disponibles qu’en français ou en anglais, WATHI se charge de la traduction des extraits choisis dans l’autre langue. Toutes les Wathinotes renvoient aux publications originales et intégrales qui ne sont pas hébergées par le site de WATHI, et sont destinées à promouvoir la lecture de ces documents, fruit du travail de recherche d’universitaires et d’experts.
The Wathinotes are either original abstracts of publications selected by WATHI, modified original summaries or publication quotes selected for their relevance for the theme of the Debate. When publications and abstracts are only available either in French or in English, the translation is done by WATHI. All the Wathinotes link to the original and integral publications that are not hosted on the WATHI website. WATHI participates to the promotion of these documents that have been written by university professors and experts.