Sanitation workers

Sanitation work: light at the end of the tunnel?

Sanitation workers provide an essential public service, but all too often it comes at the cost of their health, safety and dignity.

These are people who empty toilet pits and septic tanks; enter inspection holes and sewers to fix or unblock them; transport faecal waste; work at treatment plants; or look after sanitation facilities.

They are often invisible, neglected and ostracised. They leave home each day to work in conditions most of us couldn’t begin to imagine, facing the possibility of disease and even death – just to earn enough money to feed and clothe their families.  

Sanitation workers not only deserve the fullest respect from society, they also deserve the highest levels of protection as they go about their work.

Here, they tell their own stories in a photographic exhibition on display in Palais des Nations, Geneva, commemorating World Toilet Day on 19th November. The exhibition is co-hosted by International Labor Organization, WaterAid, World Health Organization, World Bank and UN-Water.


This exhibition is based on the recently launched report ‘Health, Safety and Dignity of Sanitation Workers. An Initial Assessment‘.

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