sanitation for the roadside worker

DSCN8399 The World Health Organization states that:

“Sanitation generally refers to the provision of facilities and services for the safe disposal of human urine and faces. Inadequate sanitation is a major cause of disease world-wide and improving sanitation is known to have a significant beneficial impact on health both in households and across communities. The word ‘sanitation’ also refers to the maintenance of hygienic conditions, through services such as garbage collection and wastewater disposal.[1]

Last women’s day, one of the nuns who deal with the health of migrant workers brought up the issue of migrant workers, their accommodation, sanitation where they dwell etc.

Ronald Martins of Goa consumer’s forum has been bringing this issue time and again, the issue of sanitation when migrant workers come. “where will they go to ease themselves?”

I realized the gravity only when I experienced this irresponsibility first hand. Suddenly the CM decides to build a stadium in 10mnts and a four lane road in half that time. Let’s not talk about the need for these structures at the cost of environment flora and fauna. The greater concern for me at this moment is….

The road is under construction, and workers are working for more than 12hrs. They have their temporary shelters along the road where their kids play, and they cook and sleep but we are depriving them of a fundamental need, the sanitation.

Where will these men and women go to easy their physiologic waste? There are no toilets provided. This is the situation at every construction site.  We complain about them using the roads to defecate, and the resultant influx of flies and odour, but have we provided them an alternate?

I have a spent a week with NDTV on the roads educating villages about this, yet I do not seem to voice the fact that this issue is not addressed in urban areas where we have labourers working.

Sanitation is the hygienic means of promoting health through prevention of human contact with hazards of wastes as well as treatment of disposal sewage or wastewater. These hazards could be physical, microbial, biologic or chemical. Wastes includes excreta human or animal, solid wastes, domestic wastewater, industrial wastes, agricultural wastes, all need to treated, with simple technology be it pit latrines, solid waste management, septic tanks.

When it comes to labourers in the open be it the road worker or the agricultural labourer we seem to forget to address this needs.

What are the options that we can think of?

  • In the case of urban labourers maybe we consider mobile toilets.
  • Construction houses need to provide proper accommodation for their workers
  • In rural areas, maybe community toilets at periodic intervals.

Even if this issue is addressed I noticed that large stretches of roadways have no provision of sanitation. Neither are there outlets for fundamental needs like water.

election2014On establishment of the toilets we face the next issue, maintaining its cleanliness and toilet training the people into using it. Somehow the current trend seems to be utilizing the western commodes which are not really hygienic. The best way to avoid toilet seat infection or water splash infection is the traditional Indian style toilet. This in addition to being hygienic is also physiologically sound.

We can provide toilets, train people to use them, create awareness about the need to keep them clean. But on the ground, we need to work processes for waste management, water management and waste water management. Unless this need is properly addressed we are pooped for sure.

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