Toilet stories

The worst job on earth?

Working with toilets can be dirty work, especially when the sanitation facilities in an area aren’t up to standard. One of the by-products of helping communities improve the quality of their water and toilet facilities is that we can help eliminate the need for some of that dirty work.

Vinod doesn’t want to work in sanitation, but he feels it’s the only way we can earn enough money. “I feel helpless and angry that the government won’t help me get a different type of job. I need money to set up my own business.”

As a teenager, Vinod made money from manual scavenging, following in the footsteps of his parents and their parents before them. “I often had to use my hands to scrape the waste into the bucket as it would spread out.”

Vinod found himself stuck in that job for ten years, before finding a job cleaning septic tanks and toilets. In his eyes, it’s a step up from scavenging, but still a long way from what he’d like to be doing. “I still have to use my hands sometimes as a last resort... I used to get 150 rupees ($3 AUD), now it varies. I would be happier in another job.”

Not only is sanitation work unpleasant, unhygienic and underpaid, but it’s humiliating too. Vinod explains that there’s a stigma attached to people who work in cleaning and sanitation jobs. “The ladies in our community… aren’t allowed to cook because they are linked to sanitation tasks. People say we can’t touch things, which makes me angry.”

It can be easy to forget that for every poor quality toilet, there’s somebody whose job it is to deal with it. At WaterAid, we think it’s important to acknowledge the people whose job is to help make toilets safer and cleaner for others.

Watch this video to celebrate the efforts of our global sanitation superheroes:

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