Understanding work patterns and health risks in the informal WASH sector in low and middle-income countries

Authors: Florence Dery*, Queen's University, Kingston, Canada
Topics: Gender, Africa, Women
Keywords: Water and sanitation, gender, informal labor, inequality
Session Type: Virtual Poster
Day: 4/8/2021
Start / End Time: 1:30 PM / 2:45 PM
Room: Virtual 52
Presentation File: Download



Access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services has tremendous influence on health. Meeting this need is a major challenge facing communities especially in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Private WASH enterprises are recognized as essential solution to improving access to WASH services. Both male and female WASH entrepreneurs provide critical WASH services especially to areas not served by public water and sanitation systems. They contribute significantly to their communities and economies but not without health risks. The work pattern and health risks are different for men and women. However, these are not clearly understood. This study employed scoping review to explore informal WASH entrepreneurship in order to understand the existing work patterns and health risks of men and women involve in informal WASH labor market. Medline, Embase, and Global Health databases were searched for peer-reviewed literature published in English. A total of 17 studies were identified. Preliminary findings indicate men mostly engaged in door to door distribution of water by using pushcarts, Tankers, or by hand. Women dominated stationary vending of water and domestic work including cleaning, waste picking, and sweeping. The findings also show that informal WASH workers are exposed to serious occupational and environmental health hazards risking illness and injury. We recommend several action areas that are needed to ensure that efforts in reaching Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) 6.2 and 6.3 do not compromise the dignity, health, sand safety of the informal WASH workforce.

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