Waste and Sanitation workers are exposed to different occupational hazards, including the risk of infection. Lack of sufficient and suitable safety gear and cleaning agents increases their risk of chronic diseases. A study reveals that 80% of waste and sanitation workers do not have any occupational health and safety training focusing on preventing infectious diseases, including COVID-19.

ITN-BUET and CWIS-FSM Support Cell, DPHE have targeted to train more than 5000 waste and sanitation workers in association with the sector partners. In this regard, ITN-BUET Master Trainers trained the city-level trainers of 14 cities through an online capacity building platform. After receiving the training, the cities launched field-level training for waste and sanitation workers. The target audience for the field-level training is road sweeper, drain cleaner, public/community toilet cleaner, solid waste collector from households and secondary transfer stations, medical waste collector, manual and mechanical pit-emptier. The participants were provided with appropriate personal protective equipment, and instructions to use these were part of the training package.

Nine cities, including Mymensingh City Corporation, Khulna City Corporation, Cumilla City Corporation, Rajshahi City Corporation, Cox’s Bazar Paurashava, Faridpur Paurashava, Kushtia Paurashava, Satkhira Paurashava and Moulovibazar Paurashava have already started field-level training. The honorable mayors of the cities inaugurated the events. They appreciated the attempt to protect the health of this marginalized group of workers. In addition to that, during the COVID-19 pandemic, they considered it as a timely and essential intervention as high-quality safety gear was a crying need for the workers. The city-level trainers were mainly from the conservancy and engineering section. Playing the role of trainers was a new experience for most of them. They expressed the significance of the training to enhance their professional capability and supervise the workers properly.

The waste and sanitation workers, who received the field-level training, welcomed it as it inspired them to maintain hygiene during work. Most of them had never attended such a training program before. They expressed that the learnings will improve their health, especially to remain protected from outbreaks like COVID. The safety gear will help them to earn self-respect in society. It is expected to bring a huge positive change in their work life.

Representatives from ITN-BUET and CWIS-FSM Support Cell were present at the events as observers and provided essential guidelines to the city-level trainers to successfully implement the program. “The glow in the eyes of the workers after receiving the training made the events worthwhile. This motivates us to continue such kind of program in future, says Mr. Mohammad Imtiaz Sharif, Training Specialist of ITN-BUET, after monitoring some field-level training. All the course booklets have been made available online for broader use by the sector stakeholders.

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