Call for contributions: Sanitation Workers Forum 2021

Image credit: Sally Cawood


Between 22nd-26th November 2021, the first Sanitation Workers’ Forum will be held entirely online. The organising committee involving volunteer MSc, PhD students, researchers and professionals based in the UK, USA and India working on and passionate about the topic of sanitation labour, and the Initiative for Sanitation Workers,  a collaborative partnership for global advocacy on sanitation workers between ILO, WaterAid, WHO, World Bank and SNV, invite you to submit your contributions to this forum.


The working and living conditions of sanitation workers – men, women and children engaged in the handling and management of human faecal matter across the globe– are receiving increasing amounts of attention in the spheres of research, policy and practice. Sanitation workers in many countries often face a myriad of challenges: exposure to health risks; inadequate safety protections; low, irregular pay; limited access to financial opportunities; or social stigma and discrimination. Community members, researchers, activists, and policymakers are calling for increased attention to and resources for these workers, including the promotion of decent work; alternative skill development; improved conditions; and, in some cases, rehabilitation.

Despite some global progress, hazardous and degrading forms of sanitation work persist. Numerous knowledge gaps remain about sanitation work globally, including information about workers’ everyday lives; effective forms of intervention; health and safety best practices; alternative livelihood options; and many other aspects of this labor force.

This forum aims to address some of these critical knowledge gaps by raising the visibility of sanitation workers and fostering discussion and collaboration between activism, research, policy and practice.

The forum objectives are to

1. Share knowledge and good practices about sanitation workers globally.
2. Build a community of practice around the topic which includes sanitation workers representatives, activists, policymakers, practitioners, students and academics.
3. Discuss and prioritise future areas of research, policy and practice.


Register your interest to participate here through the call for contributions.


Organising committee: Sally Cawood, Mariam Zaqout, Reychel Sanchez Martinez, Alix Lerebours, Amita Bhakta, Jennifer Barr, Purva Dewoolkar, Maisie-Rose Byrne, Kanika Singh.

Organisational Partners: Initiative for Sanitation Workers (a collaborative partnership for global advocacy on sanitation workers, between ILO, WaterAid, WHO, World Bank and SNV).

For further information, please contact the organising committee at: