Paying tribute to septic tank & pit emptiers


The FSM Network in Bangladesh is organising the first national convention for septic tank and pit emptiers, as this population group often faces social stigmatisation even while risking their own lives doing work for the community on a daily basis. Almost 100 septic tank and pit emptiers will be brought together to share their life stories, and together with government and development officials come up with inclusive ways to improve their situation.

Household sanitation in urban areas consists predominantly (80%) of on-site technologies, i.e. septic tanks and pits. These require regular emptying, but presently most of them are never emptied as they are directly connected to drains or open water bodies. The ones that are, are emptied manually by sweepers and not mechanically. As the urban population is increasing exponentially, there is a need for efficient and effective faecal sludge management (FSM) services. This can only be achieved through better organisation of the current services, and by ensuring improved occupational safety and health standards for the service providers.

The national ‘Dignity for Septic Tank Emptiers’ convention will be held at IGED Bhaban, Sher-e Bangla Nagar, Agargaon in Dhaka on 7 December 2016. It will be a day-long event, starting with an opening speech by the Honourable Kazi Reazul Hoque, Chairman Human Rights Commission, followed by speeches from septic tank and pit emptiers and other special guests. Then issues related to septic tank emptying will be discussed along the lines of the four domains of Decent Work as defined by the International Labour Organization (ILO): Dignity, Equality, Fair Income, and Safe Working Conditions. Suggestions and recommendations will be collected from septic tank and pit emptiers and other stakeholders, after which the event will be concluded by a cultural programme.

The day for septic tank and pit emptiers is part of a two-day convention on faecal sludge management organised by the FSM Network (a.o. WaterAid, WSUP, Practical Action) in Bangladesh, a collective learning and sharing platform to address the challenges in the sanitation sector. Overall, the convention aims to find the way forward in terms of policy making, technology and commercialisation, in order to scale up FSM in municipality and town planning.

For more information on FSM services in Bangladesh, please contact Rajeev Munankami, Programme Leader FSM for SNV in Bangladesh.