Who are frontline WASH workers?
There are many people involved in the provision of WASH services, from planning and construction to operation and maintenance. For example, engineers, health workers, social development and economic professionals, community leaders, community mobilisation experts, builders, contractors, and many others are involved. They contribute from town level, to zonal or regional level, and, depending on the scale of the project, to federal level. Even small projects such as construction of public latrines involve many different stakeholders including user communities, private contractors, town municipalities and utilities.
Frontline WASH workers are those who work closely with the beneficiaries of a scheme. Their role focuses on WASH service provision and maintenance. They mobilise urban communities to work towards improved personal hygiene and environmental sanitation, and promote proper care and utilisation of WASH infrastructure. They include health workers and those who operate WASH infrastructure and provide the necessary care and maintenance to WASH services, such as trained technicians, operators and facility administrators. All are important, irreplaceable contributors who improve and sustain basic services in urban areas.
Which of the following would be frontline WASH workers? Urban Health Extension Workers, members of the Health Development Army, woreda water experts, WASH facility operators, plumbers, mechanics, technicians and sludge collection operators.
Which do you think would be the most crucial for improving and sustaining WASH services in your locality?
All these are frontline WASH workers. The most crucial groups will vary from project to project, but are likely to be the Urban Health Extension Workers, members of the Health Development Army, woreda water experts, and both public and private WASH facility operators.
If these crucial groups of workers are absent, inadequately trained or not undertaking their daily tasks effectively, access to urban WASH service facilities will be restricted or reduced. In extreme cases, WASH facilities may break down altogether leading to total lack of WASH services.
The following sections outline the roles of the key groups of frontline workers.