Supporting sanitation workers for a waste-free environment

Sanitation workers provide invaluable service to our daily lives and to the environment. The truth remains, however, that in many parts of the world, they often do their jobs without gloves or any other protective gear for very little money.

Hoping to lessen the burden of sanitation workers, PHINLA Global Program, a partnership project of World Vision Development Foundation and EcoWaste Coalition with funding from the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Global Development (BMZ), distributed another set of pedicabs (bicycle-operated vehicle) and kolong-kolongs (motorbike with sidecar), as well as protective equipment to its beneficiaries in three barangays in Davao City, Quezon City, and Cagayan de Oro City.

Niño, 37, is among the dedicated drainage maintenance staff in Barangay Bagong Silangan, Quezon City. His job entails cleaning drainage, canals, creeks and rivers in the barangay. It has already been three years since he started and Niño can say that it is not a job for the fainthearted. “Mahirap talaga, kase pinapasok namin ang drainage at manhole na kailangang buksan. Delikado rin lalo na ngayong pandemic,” Niño said.

This job often requires a wide range of tools and equipment. However, acquiring such tools can be costly, so sanitation workers just rely on what is provided to them. Niño, for instance, used to do his work using only disposable gloves, which give minimal protection and can be easily damaged.

To aid Niño and other sanitation workers, PHINLA donated anti-cut gloves, full-gear raincoat, heavy-duty boots and respiratory masks as added layers of protection.

“The ongoing pandemic exacerbated the problems of waste and also highlighted the call on the protection of the environment as it is important to human health and well-being. As we are focused on the recovery phase of waste, the PHINLA Global Program ensures that preventive measures are in place and one of this is through the provision of waste collection tools and equipment,” said PHINLA Program Coordinator Joben Asuncion.

PHINLA beneficiaries in Barangay Bagong Silangan also received a unit of bio-shredder, three units of kolong-kolong, and seven pedicabs. Niño said that these vehicles make their daily operations much easier. Before, they would often walk to their areas of assignment. It’s quite a long walk but they could not afford to rent a tricycle either.

The barangay can only provide five service vehicles catering to many people and departments. Waiting is an option, but it will surely take up so much of their time and will leave them working until midday. “Dati alas dose nandoon pa kami sa area. Masakit na sa balat ang sikat ng araw. Kanya-kanyang diskarte na lang talaga,” Niño shared.

“Nagpapasalamat po kami sa PHINLA. Pinagaan po ninyo ang trabaho namin. Maraming, maraming salamat po talaga,” Niño further said.

But as Niño remarked, sanitation workers like him can only do so much to keep the environment clean. The people’s discipline remains the key. Niño appeals to his fellow Filipinos, “Sa sarili natin nagsisimula lahat. Sana ay tulungan kami ng aming mga kababayan sa pagsugpo sa problema sa basura.”

It is everyone’s dream to live in a waste-free environment. Hence, it is essential to take measures that would also improve the lives of those who work to make this possible. Sanitation workers cannot be left behind.