Access to All

 

Disability is a significant barrier to accessing adequate water and sanitation. Depending on the type of disability, the individual may require more water (e.g. for washing hands regularly for people who walk with their hands), and more regular access to toilets, yet in practice they may not be able to achieve these. For instance, people using wheelchairs in rural Nepal (admittedly not very common due to the difficult terrain) usually cannot fit into toilets – either at home or in institutions such as schools. Tap stands usually have a ledge that may obstruct access by the mobility disabled.

 

As well as facing physical barriers, these groups are easily forgotten when planning meetings and public activities. Due to difficulties of accessing government buildings with stairs or walking several hours to the municipality or district headquarters, they cannot easily raise their concerns with the relevant authorities. Furthermore, for cultural reasons they are often stigmatised and sometimes hidden in houses.

 

Relatively small adjustments to water and sanitation services can ensure that the needs of people living with disabilities are not overlooked, improving the dignity, health, and overall quality of life of those already disadvantaged.Whether women, female-headed households, elderly, disabled people and people living with HIV/AIDS have access to safe and adequate WASH facilities is determined foremost by poverty, remoteness and caste/ethnicity of their community and household. However, lack of access to WASH facilities by these such individuals is further exacerbated due to their exclusion from the decision making process, meaning their concerns are not incorporated in the design and operation & maintenance systems.

 

Inappropriate designs might prevent people with disabilities and elderly people to access facilities, and prevent women from being effective in their traditional role of guarding water safety, therefore it is critical that designs incorporate principles of ‘appropriate technology’ and human-cantered design. Also, discriminatory social restrictions to facility use might be enforced on menstruating women, female-headed households, people living with HIV/AIDS, and Dalit households so RWSSP-WN programmes must ensure a holistic approach to issues relevant to each context.

RWSSP-WN II will:

 

  • Raise awareness and provide information to Ward and Municipality WASH Coordination Committees, Water Users and Sanitation Committees, women's tap groups and other stakeholders on options available, both in terms of technical designs and the location of water and sanitation infrastructure. Conducting participatory audits of accessibility is one practical tool in this regard.

  • Work with target organisations to sensitize individual households, and suggesting latrine designs that are accessible and child, gender and disabled-friendly. Ward and Municipality WASH Coordination Committees (W-WASH-CCs and M-WASH-CCs) shall then identify houses with elderly or disabled and give them suggestions of how to make their toilets more accessible (e.g. tie a rope on back of the door, fix hand rails, building a toilet stool, making structure bigger combined with bathroom having enough doorway space for wheelchair movement etc.).

  • Use modified designs for toilets in institutions such as schools to improve physical access.

  • Invite representatives of Disabled People’s Organisations to provide training and advice

  • Improve physical access to water supplies by designing tap stands with a higher and lower tap (‘child tap’).