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Impact Accelerator - Bangladesh

Bangladesh

Project Update

WaterAid/Parvez

WaterAid/Parvez

WaterAid/Parvez

WaterAid/Parvez

WaterAid/Parvez

WaterAid/Parvez

WaterAid/Parvez

WaterAid/Parvez

The Context

Sanitation workers represent one of the most important yet undermined workforces in Bangladesh. The work they do impacts the collective health and hygiene of the country, yet the discrimination faced by the people in this occupation is one of the most pronounced and far-reaching. Unfortunately, their plight is also one of the most ignored and overlooked. Sanitation workers in their course of work face various health hazards; handling toxic and hazardous materials, getting injured at work and an inability to call in sick with paid holidays, added to the already stressful nature of the tasks involved.  Workers have little or no protective equipment to combat or minimise the hazards. As well as the health hazards and poor working conditions of the sanitation and waste workers, the group also face social stigma and obstructions to social mobility due to their nature of work. They find it hard to get work in a different field, get access to better education and overall are unable to command a respectful place in society.

 

The Problem We Will Solve

Within this context, WaterAid Bangladesh is focusing on the plight of female sanitation workers, as the issues and negative effects faced by the sanitation workers as a whole are magnified for the women in these groups, and even further overlooked. As many as 27 per cent of female sanitation workers face some sort of physical or sexual abuse.

Women face an increased threat to their health due to not having enough support or time off during menstruation and pregnancies, and lack access to toilets. Lack of paid sick leave and affordable health check-ups also hinders the maintenance of good health and hygiene. Women also face an unfair pay gap while doing the same work as a male worker.

The Proposed Solution

WaterAid Bangladesh will produce a short film documenting the unheard and unseen difficulties of female waste and sanitation worker’s health, safety, and dignity. Female workers make up the frontline of the waste and sanitation workforce and yet they have little to no representation in the mainstream media. This project aims to raise awareness of their daily struggles and support them to improve their working conditions and livelihoods.  This idea was inspired by the on-the-ground experience of WaterAid and a rigorous study into the working conditions of female sanitation workers.

The film will show the day in a life of a fictitious female sanitation worker, based on real-life stories. The plot will follow the protagonist as she faces her everyday challenges, including the daily struggle to put food on the table, securing a future for her child and keeping herself safe during her working day. The film will be an important call to action for change for the underrepresented female waste and sanitation workers working in such unjust conditions.

WaterAid Bangladesh will launch a dissemination campaign for the film which will involve showcasing the film on key media platforms, as well as with key media personal, arts communities and the local authorities. WaterAid Bangladesh will partner with leading news agencies to maximise the films reach.  Building on the momentum from the film's premiere, WaterAid will follow up with advocacy and dialogue to increase awareness and action from local authorities and contractors.

WaterAid/Parvez

WaterAid/Parvez

WaterAid/Parvez

WaterAid/Parvez

What we aim to achieve

Success for us would look like:

  • Increased awareness among the general public of the plight of female sanitation workers and getting traction to support their needs.
  • Five million people reached with the film and campaign messaging.
  • Increased awareness among the media and key policy and decision makers, to escalate the importance of the issues, and use this as a way to influence policy and practice to improve working conditions for sanitation workers.  

What We Have Learnt

Check back in soon to find out the projects and solutions that evolve during Bangladesh’s Impact Accelerator. To stay up to date, sign up to the newsletter and hear more about how the pilot solutions are progressing and other WaterAid projects.

WaterAid/Parvez

WaterAid/Parvez

“I and other waste workers are the reason people can live at home during the lockdown without worrying about their waste disposal. If we don’t work during this pandemic, people do not know what to do with this waste. We are continuing our job under great risk only to give the public some level of comfort. But it is very unfortunate that people do not value our sacrifice.”  - Rehana, a waste worker in Khulna, who collects waste from households.

Emon, Dhaka North City Corporation’s sewerage contractual cleaner, poses for a photo during cleaning the sewerage dirt from the drain near Tejgaon Police station, Farmgate, Dhaka Credit: WaterAid

Emon, Dhaka North City Corporation’s sewerage contractual cleaner, poses for a photo during cleaning the sewerage dirt from the drain near Tejgaon Police station, Farmgate, Dhaka Credit: WaterAid

Hear from a sanitation expert in Bangladesh

Hear from a sanitation expert in Bangladesh

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