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United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs Sustainable Development

Towards Health, Safety and Dignity of All Workers

Indian Institute for Human Settlements (
Academic institution

    We commit to embedding sanitation workers’ rights in the Water Action Agenda, to ensure sanitation and urban development interventions do not neglect issues that could potentially increase the risks they face. The commitment focuses on social protection, access to health, occupational safety, fair contracts, recognition of worker groups and federations, and opportunities to grow within the profession as well as the option to choose alternate careers for themselves and their families. With a focus on informal sanitation workers, our commitment seeks to enable them to voice their challenges and ensure they have the agency to improve their lives and livelihoods. Sector cooperation and strategic partnerships are vital to enable various governments, authorities, organisations, businesses, unions, and other key players to work collaboratively towards improving the working conditions of sanitation workers, a key step towards retaining and expanding the sanitation workforce and delivering on the promise of safely managed sanitation services and decent work for all as set out in SDGs 6.2 and 8. The following are the main intervention areas and vision for the end of the Water Action Decade: Build evidence: Commit to effective approaches to improve working conditions across all aspects (e.g., legal, policy, regulatory, business models, technologies, behaviour change, funding). By 2030, collectively the partners aim to have significantly improved the evidence around numbers, conditions, challenges, and approaches that have worked for sanitation workers at the global and local levels. Reform policy, legislation, and regulation: Commit to including operational guidelines to acknowledge and professionalise the sanitation workforce along the sanitation service chain. These will include operational guidelines and government and employer budgets for their implementation. By 2030 collectively the partners aim to have improved aspects of policy, legislation, and regulation in at least 10 countries. Facilitate improved workplace conditions, benefits, agency, and recognition: Commit to amplifying the voices of workers, towards protecting their rights and thereby promoting their dignity and respect. Recognising their contributions to public health and raising awareness of the importance of their work. By 2030 collectively the partners aim to have supported workers' groups in amplifying voices, establishing or strengthening platforms, associations, and global champions capable of organising and advocating for improved working conditions in at least 10 countries. Dissemination of leading initiatives and enabling cross-learning: Commit to documenting innovative approaches for sanitation workers from diverse experiences (workers to technical agencies and vice versa), enabling replication and scaling across contexts involving other players (government, funders, private sector). By 2030, collectively the partners will engage regularly to take stock of the initiatives, share appropriate practices, work with local players in respective contexts, and hold at least one global workshop for dissemination.

    Expected Impact

    Sanitation workers provide a crucial public service. Despite being integral to the sanitation chain and playing a pivotal role in achieving SDG 6.2, they are often invisible in the eyes of the government and citizens. Health, safety, dignity, employment security, and quality of life are basic human rights, and it is vital to ensure sanitation workers have access to them. Curtailed rights and entitlements of sanitation workers often adversely impact the quality of services they provide, leaving urban settlements prone to issues of health and climate change. A range of multilateral and bilateral agencies are working across the globe, in close coordination with national and sub-national government agencies to improve the lives and working environment of sanitation workers. By bringing together experts of these agencies into forming working groups, it is expected that ideas will travel fast, and innovations will take root more easily. Frontline sanitation workers will find platforms to voice their concerns and agendas through targeted communications and advocacy campaigns.


    ● Indian Institute for Human Settlements (IIHS) ● International Labour Organization ● Pan-African Sanitation Actors ● Sustainable Sanitation Alliance ● SNV Netherlands Development Organization ● UN-Habitat ● WaterAid ● World Bank ● World Health Organisation

    Additional information

    Startpage - Sanitation Workers Hub (

    Goal 3

    Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages

    Goal 3


    By 2030, reduce the global maternal mortality ratio to less than 70 per 100,000 live births

    Maternal mortality ratio


    Proportion of births attended by skilled health personnel


    By 2030, end preventable deaths of newborns and children under 5 years of age, with all countries aiming to reduce neonatal mortality to at least as low as 12 per 1,000 live births and under-5 mortality to at least as low as 25 per 1,000 live births

    Under-five mortality rate


    Neonatal mortality rate


    By 2030, end the epidemics of AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and neglected tropical diseases and combat hepatitis, water-borne diseases and other communicable diseases


    Number of new HIV infections per 1,000 uninfected population, by sex, age and key populations


    Tuberculosis incidence per 100,000 population


    Malaria incidence per 1,000 population


    Hepatitis B incidence per 100,000 population


    Number of people requiring interventions against neglected tropical diseases


    By 2030, reduce by one third premature mortality from non-communicable diseases through prevention and treatment and promote mental health and well-being

    Mortality rate attributed to cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes or chronic respiratory disease


    Suicide mortality rate


    Strengthen the prevention and treatment of substance abuse, including narcotic drug abuse and harmful use of alcohol


    Coverage of treatment interventions (pharmacological, psychosocial and rehabilitation and aftercare services) for substance use disorders


    Alcohol per capita consumption (aged 15 years and older) within a calendar year in litres of pure alcohol


    By 2020, halve the number of global deaths and injuries from road traffic accidents

    Death rate due to road traffic injuries


    By 2030, ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health-care services, including for family planning, information and education, and the integration of reproductive health into national strategies and programmes


    Proportion of women of reproductive age (aged 15-49 years) who have their need for family planning satisfied with modern methods


    Adolescent birth rate (aged 10-14 years; aged 15-19 years) per 1,000 women in that age group


    Achieve universal health coverage, including financial risk protection, access to quality essential health-care services and access to safe, effective, quality and affordable essential medicines and vaccines for all


    Coverage of essential health services


    Proportion of population with large household expenditures on health as a share of total household expenditure or income


    By 2030, substantially reduce the number of deaths and illnesses from hazardous chemicals and air, water and soil pollution and contamination

    Mortality rate attributed to household and ambient air pollution


    Mortality rate attributed to unsafe water, unsafe sanitation and lack of hygiene (exposure to unsafe Water, Sanitation and Hygiene for All (WASH) services)


    Mortality rate attributed to unintentional poisoning


    Strengthen the implementation of the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control in all countries, as appropriate

    Age-standardized prevalence of current tobacco use among persons aged 15 years and older


    Support the research and development of vaccines and medicines for the communicable and non-communicable diseases that primarily affect developing countries, provide access to affordable essential medicines and vaccines, in accordance with the Doha Declaration on the TRIPS Agreement and Public Health, which affirms the right of developing countries to use to the full the provisions in the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights regarding flexibilities to protect public health, and, in particular, provide access to medicines for all


    Proportion of the target population covered by all vaccines included in their national programme

    Total net official development assistance to medical research and basic health sectors

    Proportion of health facilities that have a core set of relevant essential medicines available and affordable on a sustainable basis


    Substantially increase health financing and the recruitment, development, training and retention of the health workforce in developing countries, especially in least developed countries and small island developing States

    Health worker density and distribution


    Strengthen the capacity of all countries, in particular developing countries, for early warning, risk reduction and management of national and global health risks


    International Health Regulations (IHR) capacity and health emergency preparedness


    Percentage of bloodstream infections due to selected antimicrobial-resistant organisms

    Goal 6

    Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all

    Goal 6


    By 2030, achieve universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all


    Proportion of population using safely managed drinking water services


    By 2030, achieve access to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene for all and end open defecation, paying special attention to the needs of women and girls and those in vulnerable situations


    Proportion of population using (a) safely managed sanitation services and (b) a hand-washing facility with soap and water


    By 2030, improve water quality by reducing pollution, eliminating dumping and minimizing release of hazardous chemicals and materials, halving the proportion of untreated wastewater and substantially increasing recycling and safe reuse globally


    Proportion of domestic and industrial wastewater flows safely treated


    Proportion of bodies of water with good ambient water quality


    By 2030, substantially increase water-use efficiency across all sectors and ensure sustainable withdrawals and supply of freshwater to address water scarcity and substantially reduce the number of people suffering from water scarcity

    Change in water-use efficiency over time


    Level of water stress: freshwater withdrawal as a proportion of available freshwater resources


    By 2030, implement integrated water resources management at all levels, including through transboundary cooperation as appropriate


    Degree of integrated water resources management 


    Proportion of transboundary basin area with an operational arrangement for water cooperation


    By 2020, protect and restore water-related ecosystems, including mountains, forests, wetlands, rivers, aquifers and lakes

    Change in the extent of water-related ecosystems over time


    By 2030, expand international cooperation and capacity-building support to developing countries in water- and sanitation-related activities and programmes, including water harvesting, desalination, water efficiency, wastewater treatment, recycling and reuse technologies

    Amount of water- and sanitation-related official development assistance that is part of a government-coordinated spending plan


    Support and strengthen the participation of local communities in improving water and sanitation management


    Proportion of local administrative units with established and operational policies and procedures for participation of local communities in water and sanitation management

    Goal 8

    Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all

    Goal 8


    Sustain per capita economic growth in accordance with national circumstances and, in particular, at least 7 per cent gross domestic product growth per annum in the least developed countries

    Annual growth rate of real GDP per capita


    Achieve higher levels of economic productivity through diversification, technological upgrading and innovation, including through a focus on high-value added and labour-intensive sectors


    Annual growth rate of real GDP per employed person


    Promote development-oriented policies that support productive activities, decent job creation, entrepreneurship, creativity and innovation, and encourage the formalization and growth of micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises, including through access to financial services


    Proportion of informal employment in total employment, by sector and sex


    Improve progressively, through 2030, global resource efficiency in consumption and production and endeavour to decouple economic growth from environmental degradation, in accordance with the 10-Year Framework of Programmes on Sustainable Consumption and Production, with developed countries taking the lead


    Material footprint, material footprint per capita, and material footprint per GDP


    Domestic material consumption, domestic material consumption per capita, and domestic material consumption per GDP


    By 2030, achieve full and productive employment and decent work for all women and men, including for young people and persons with disabilities, and equal pay for work of equal value

    Average hourly earnings of female and male employees, by occupation, age and persons with disabilities


    Unemployment rate, by sex, age and persons with disabilities


    By 2020, substantially reduce the proportion of youth not in employment, education or training

    Proportion of youth (aged 15-24 years) not in education, employment or training


    Take immediate and effective measures to eradicate forced labour, end modern slavery and human trafficking and secure the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labour, including recruitment and use of child soldiers, and by 2025 end child labour in all its forms


    Proportion and number of children aged 5‑17 years engaged in child labour, by sex and age


    Protect labour rights and promote safe and secure working environments for all workers, including migrant workers, in particular women migrants, and those in precarious employment


    Fatal and non-fatal occupational injuries per 100,000 workers, by sex and migrant status


    Level of national compliance with labour rights (freedom of association and collective bargaining) based on International Labour Organization (ILO) textual sources and national legislation, by sex and migrant status


    By 2030, devise and implement policies to promote sustainable tourism that creates jobs and promotes local culture and products


    Tourism direct GDP as a proportion of total GDP and in growth rate


    Strengthen the capacity of domestic financial institutions to encourage and expand access to banking, insurance and financial services for all


    (a) Number of commercial bank branches per 100,000 adults and (b) number of automated teller machines (ATMs) per 100,000 adults


    Proportion of adults (15 years and older) with an account at a bank or other financial institution or with a mobile-money-service provider


    Increase Aid for Trade support for developing countries, in particular least developed countries, including through the Enhanced Integrated Framework for Trade-Related Technical Assistance to Least Developed Countries

    Aid for Trade commitments and disbursements


    By 2020, develop and operationalize a global strategy for youth employment and implement the Global Jobs Pact of the International Labour Organization


    Existence of a developed and operationalized national strategy for youth employment, as a distinct strategy or as part of a national employment strategy

    Name Description

    Collectively build a repository to support global advocacy that can holistically improve overall well-being, health, and occupational safety for sanitation workers

    Actively engage in communication and advocacy campaigns to: i ) Facilitate visibility of diverse voices of champions/ sanitation workers from the ground ii) Drive policy changes in partnership with local/ national governments and other key players

    Dissemination of appropriate practices through an online platform and a global workshop

    Staff / Technical expertise
    Partners will earmark technical assistance funding to support project design to ensure that opportunities for promoting workers’ voices are maximised, and to support knowledge management. Time allocated by partners to work with multiple stakeholders, and
    Staff / Technical expertise
    Communications around Sanitation Workers, including maintaining websites, and also on relevant social media channels
    No progress reports have been submitted. Please sign in and click here to submit one.
    Action Network
    water logo
    21 March 2023 (start date)
    21 May 2030 (date of completion)
    Indian Institute for Human Settlements
    3 6 8
    1. Africa
    2. Asia and Pacific
    Other beneficiaries

    Primary beneficiaries include a range of sanitation workers along the sanitation chain (e.g., toilet cleaners, fecal sludge emptying and transport workers, sewer cleaners, and wastewater treatment plant workers). This includes workers and their families across formal, informal, semi-formal, and contractual arrangements. Others include micro and small water/ sanitation businesses and local volunteering organisations. By extension, all citizens will benefit from the services of a larger and better-protected sanitation workforce delivering safely managed sanitation services.

    Burkina Faso
    Burkina Faso
    Global Action Plan
    Contact Information

    Kavita , Head – Practice, Indian Institute for Human Settlements (IIHS)