Assessment of the health, safety and dignity of sanitation workers in Tanzania

Tanzania, Sanitation
Julius Chisengo, 49, sanitation worker, emptying faecal sludge into a small sludge treatment plant, Kigambon-Umawa, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, June, 2019.
Image: WaterAid/ James Kiyimba

Sanitation workers provide an essential public service to reach the global goal on water, sanitation and hygiene. But providing this service often comes at the cost of their dignity, safety, health and living conditions. A key barrier to providing support for the profession is insufficient data on sanitation workers and their work environment. As such, this assessment aims to explore opportunities to support sanitation workers in Tanzania, including strengthening the enabling environment.

The methodology included a literature review and 19 key informant interviews including sanitation workers, local government workers and regulatory authorities. The assessment focused on three regions - Dar es Salaam, Dodoma and Arusha - and identified three main types of sanitation workers: government-employed workers, private service providers, and informal workers.

Sanitation workers face different levels of challenges concerning stigma, discrimination, social security, financial security, legal recognition and occupational hazards that can lead to illnesses and injuries. The assessment also confirmed that faecal sludge in Tanzania is extensively disposed of untreated into the environment.

As such, the assessment has identified the following recommendations to support sanitation workers and strengthen the enabling environment in Tanzania:

  • Advocate for the recognition of sanitation workers
  • Develop the capacity of local government authorities to register sanitation service providers
  • Develop a suitable model for the formalisation of sanitation worker groups
  • Promote innovative desludging equipment
  • Develop an appropriate economic support model for sanitation workers
  • Promote adherence to health and safety requirements
  • Develop national guidelines on safe sanitation services

Further reading 

Top image: Sanitation worker Julius Chisengo empties faecal sludge into a small sludge treatment plant in Kigambon-Umawa, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, June 2019.