Baseline Analysis of the Socio-Economic Situation of Safai Sathis


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Baseline Analysis of the Socio-Economic Situation of Safai Sathis

December 14, 2021

Safai Sathis are key stakeholders in the waste recycling ecosystem across the country. Given the contribution of the Safai Sathis to the overall economic development of the country, UNDP India surveyed 9,300 Safai Sathis in 14 cities across 10 Indian states in 2020 to understand their demographic, work, income, financial and housing conditions along with their levels of enrolment and access to social protection measures.

We find that the work undertaken by Safai Sathis is highly informal in nature and limits the earning potential of its workers (leading to constrained household budgets and expenditure). Over-representation from socially disadvantaged communities and those with lower levels of education further impedes financial and social mobility of these workers.

While advances on financial inclusion, social protection, and basic amenities (such as housing, electricity, and piped water) are widespread and notable, increased awareness, higher enrolment, and more efficient delivery mechanisms of schemes across these themes are required to assist the Safai Sathis community. Formalization of work, initiation of skill training, work diversification, education of the children of Safai Sathis and exploring alternate livelihoods emerge as some key policy priorities.