The inhumane practice of manual scavenging enslaves an estimated 1.2 million people in India, 95% of whom are women. They are subjected to ongoing caste-based discrimination and humiliation. Manual scavengers clean dry latrines used by others in villages and semi-urban areas. They lift and dispose of heavy loads of excrement in cane baskets by hand, exposing them to illness and infection.
Communities of manual scavengers are placed in the lowest rung of society and are seen as ‘Untouchables among the Untouchables’. This degrading work undermines their self-esteem and dignity.
The project works to promote decent livelihood opportunities for liberated manual scavengers through enhancing their skills and capacities. The project also works with young people from ex-manual scavenger families to offer them alternatives through social entrepreneurship. The project also trains ex-manual scavengers to become leaders and advocates in their own communities, identifying cases of discrimination and acting as beacons of empowerment and dignity.