Repossessing Respect
Project Azmat is an endeavour to liberate the Manual Scavengers by providing them a sustainable source of livelihood through development of a micro-enterprise and to facilitate construction of proper toilet systems.

Project ‘Azmat’, meaning dignity in Urdu, uses a multi-faceted approach for the rehabilitation of manual scavengers - by providing them an alternative source of livelihood and replacement of dry latrines with proper toilets.

The act of manual scavenging involves humans cleaning dry latrines (non-flush toilets) by picking up human excreta with their bare hands and then carrying it to the place of disposal. This practice was banned in India in 1993, however, it still continues to be practiced in many parts of the country.

Goals and Objectives of Project Azmat

// Rehabilitation of women employed in scavenging

Rehabilitation of women by organizing them into a cooperative society and providing them basic literacy and financial training and training in detergent making to make them proficient to practice an alternative livelihood. The business model will generate enough revenue to increase their income by 655%.

// Removal of dry latrines

The dry latrines are demolished and two pit toilets are constructed for the entire village. These toilets require no maintenance costs, require little water and convert waste into manure. Enactus SRCC has collaborated with Sulabh International Social Service Organisation for the purpose of construction of 128 two-pit toilets to ensure that the women do not go back to that profession.

// The Community and the Business Model

Enactus SRCC identified a community of 22 women manual scavengers in Nekpur near Ghaziabad with the help of the Safai Karamchari Andolan (SKA). They lack basic amenities such as education, health care and sanitation. Coupled with the indignity of their job, they are usually paid a meager amount of around Rs.10 per day in kind. The women are the sole bread winners of the family as the men remain unemployed for large parts of the year. In order to provide a sustainable source of livelihood to our community, we explored various alternatives which could be pursued by our women entrepreneurs.

We decided to pursue a project involving Zardosi stitching because: 

Azmat 2

We have collaborated with National Safai Karamchari Finance and Development Corporation- a wing under the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment and E-Ashram, a Bareilly-based organisation to impart training in Zardosi stitching to members of our community.


  Azmat 1                                                                

The women are nearing proficiency in the process of Zardosi stitching and have commenced manufacturing apparel for a variety of clients.

Triple Bottom-Line Impact

// Economic

The development of the sustainable business model of Zardosi stitching ensures the well-being of the current and future generations of the community. Once the women attain proficiency in the art, they will earn a minimum of Rs.6000 per woman per month.

// Social

The project is a contribution to the abolition of the deplorable and pitiable practice of manual scavenging. The women will not face differential treatment and will be able to hold their heads high with dignity.

// Environmental

The two pit toilets conserve water and convert human waste into nutrient rich manure, which creates a positive environmental impact and also promotes the agrarian economy of the village. 

Since the model presents an opportunity to transform the lives of thousands of manual scavengers across India, the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment has decided to implement Enactus SRCC’s initiative across many villages in India.