Socio-Economic Status, Hygiene Practices and Microbial Exposure of the Waste Collectors of Dhaka City in Bangladesh

  •  M. A. Rifat    
  •  Asit Biswas    
  •  Hazera Binte Sufian    
  •  Faria Azad    
  •  MD Khurshidul Zahid    


Waste is a discarded part generated from primary use of a material. In most cases, waste is very much unwanted and unusable but may be usable and beneficial for our economy and environment. Waste collectors are playing vital roles for the management of wastes though they are deprived of their basic needs. They are involved directly or indirectly to our economy and environmental development. However, whether waste collection activity has any effect on the socioeconomic status, hygiene practices, and microbial exposure of waste collectors remain unknown. Here we investigated socio-economic status, hygiene practices and microbial exposure of the waste collectors of Dhaka city in Bangladesh.

This study included two types of waste collectors in Dhaka city. One is the household waste collectors (HWCs) who belong to the formal waste management system of the city corporation and the other is the street waste collectors (SWCs) who belong to the informal waste management system that is executed mainly by the vulnerable groups of people locally called "Tokai". The total sample size was 150 (75 HWCs and 75 SWCs) who were randomly selected from 15 different sites (clusters) of the city. The research findings showed that 20% waste collectors were children and 76.67% were illiterate. The majority (72.7%) earned less than 150 BDT/day but the lion’s share was spent on food. The coverage of sanitary toilet facility was 42.0% whereas 70.7% SWCs had no toilet facility. The majority (82.7%) used to drink untreated water and 41.3% had disease episode in previous 30 days of data collection time. Only 28.0% waste collectors had bathing facility at home. Noticeably, no waste collector was wearing mask, gloves and apron while handling the waste. Analysis found that the status of HWCs was better than that of SWCs. Association among the variables showed that significant relationship existed between income level and percentage of expenditure on foods, types of drinking water and disease episode in previous 30 days, types of toilet used and hand washing practices. Microbiological analysis showed that the waste collectors were more exposed to the microbial hazards than the normal people.

HWCs and SWCs included in this study belong to vulnerable groups of Bangladesh. They are playing vital roles for cleaning and developing environmental conditions and living standards of Dhaka city though their contributions were mostly unrecognized. The present results suggested that socio-economic status, hygiene practices and microbial exposure of waste collectors of Dhaka city in Bangladesh are in poor and critical conditions. To address the present needs, proper measures should be taken by the coordinated activities (short and long-term) of both govt. and non-govt. organizations.

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