Inclusive water, sanitation and hygiene essential for life with dignity, says WaterAid

WaterAid/Guilhem Alandry

From Liberia to Nepal, Ethiopia to India, progress is being made to ensure more disabled people are living lives with dignity with inclusive water infrastructure, accessible toilets and improved hygiene services, as demonstrated in new photos released by international non-governmental organisation WaterAid to mark the International Day of Persons With Disabilities (3 December).

The images show the progress in installing accessible facilities – including wheelchair-friendly toilets and shower blocks – as well as in changing mindsets around disability in communities and in local governments.

One billion people – 15 per cent of the world’s population – have some form of disability. The vast majority are living in the poorest communities in low- and middle-income countries, where poverty is both a cause and a consequence of disability.

A lack of access to water, sanitation and hygiene particularly affects disabled people living in poverty. Disparities are even more stark when disability combines with another common cause of exclusion, such as gender, remoteness, ethnicity, chronic illness or ageing.

WaterAid has been calling for action from policymakers, local and national governments, and water and sanitation practitioners to ensure access to water, sanitation and hygiene for all, including disabled people.

Avinash Kumar, Director – Programmes and Policy at WaterAid India, said:

“WaterAid is conscious of the fact that we will never be able to realise the goal of a Swachh Bharat by neglecting the physically disabled and elderly persons. Almost 15 per cent of world’s population is disabled and without accessible toilets, they remain excluded from opportunities to attend school or gain employment.

In spite of the enabling policies, there have been challenges faced by service providers because of lack of appropriate technology options, absence of adequate information or lack of money.

This International Day of Persons With Disabilities, WaterAid is calling on the governments and all the service providers to deliver services that are accessible for all thus creating an enabling environment that discourages any form of discrimination towards persons with disabilities and elderly people. No one should be left behind in our attempt to become a clean India.”

WaterAid works with governments to develop guidelines for delivering proper services and supports on implementation. In India, WaterAid worked with the government to develop and roll out their Handbook on Accessible Household Sanitation for Persons with Disabilities with practical, accessible water, sanitation and hygiene designs of varying costs.

WaterAid is calling on governments to meet their promises to ensure that no one is left behind, after every member state of the United Nations signed on to the Sustainable Developments Goals in autumn 2015, promising a healthier, fairer, more sustainable world by 2030.

WaterAid works on inclusive programming in 37 countries helping ensure no one is left behind, including disabled people.

To download images of WaterAid’s inclusive water points, toilets and shower blocks and their users, please click here.



Toilet Facts

44 per cent of the total population in India still defecate in the open.

Open defecation causes chronic diarrhoea that leads to stunting.