Footage of sanitation worker

ILYASU ABBAS, 50, PIT LATRINE AND SEPTIC TANK EMPTIER

Ilyasu has been employed as a pit latrine and septic tank emptier for 28 years. He supplements his work with farming but says the pandemic has drastically reduced his income and ability to care for his two wives and eight children.

He empties faecal sludge manually using drums, buckets, diggers, shovels, ropes and a scooping container. He wasn’t given any extra PPE or training to protect against COVID-19 and says he doesn’t even know where he could access a vaccine. He says, “The major risk we face during our work is harassment, injuries, loss of a limbs or our lives”. He has been cut several times by objects inside the pits like a broken bottle or needle and says he’s also been injured on several occasions “About two years ago, while emptying a pit in the night, a concrete block from the toilet structure broke off and fell on my head.” Despite the risks he says “We don’t' use PPE of any kind, we use the normal working cloth we put on our body. Our biggest belief is that God is the one protecting us whether we use PPE or not.”