WaterAid – Disability and the WASH sector

What the Global Report on Disability means for the WASH sector. 2011. WaterAid.

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This report gives an overview of the information relevant to the water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) sector in the world’s first report on disability. It also highlights how WaterAid is addressing the recommendations in the report, as well as where we could develop our approaches further.

Disabled people represent the largest socially excluded group globally and most live without access to basic sanitary services, which can exacerbate impairments and poverty. However, so far disabled people have typically been excluded from development intervention and research.

In 2011, the World Health Organisation (WHO) published the world’s first report on disability, which covers all forms of disability, from blindness to mental health issues. It updates global disability estimates for the first time in 40 years and finds that over a billion people (15% of the world’s population) are disabled.

The number of people aged 60 and over has tripled between 1950 and 2000; it is projected to triple again by 20506. Increased age increases the risk of acquiring a health condition (eg loss of sight, hearing, mental health disorders). The global disability estimate is set to rise due to increases in chronic diseases and improvements in methodologies used to measure disability.

The report states that disability is less about health conditions and more about social and economic barriers to inclusion. Health conditions that increase the risk of disability include environmental factors such as low birth weight and a lack of essential dietary nutrients. The situation is worsened by exposure to poor sanitation, unsafe water, a lack of access to healthcare and malnutrition. A person’s environment has a major effect on the prevalence and extent of disability. For this reason, the WHO report puts safe water and sanitation at the centre of helping to prevent disability and poverty.

2 responses to “WaterAid – Disability and the WASH sector

  1. Quite an interesting report from WaterAid. Thumbs up!
    All of us at some point in our lives might face some form of disability. Basic infrastructural structures need to be implemented to assure accessibility of sanitation facilities for disabled people. It is also important to incorporate inclusive designs taking into consideration age and gender aspects especially in terms of menstrual hygiene management. That way, all groups have access to safe sanitation facilities. This is possible through the active inclusion of key stakeholders and through carrying out baseline surveys in the communities. Engaging stakeholders is top priority so that different approaches and technical solutions can be implemented depending on the different types of disabilities in the communities.
    I would also highly recommend the Bench UDDT because the toilet can be located indoors and even on any level of the house reducing walking distances and increasing security. Further information can be found in the factsheet called, Making sustainable sanitation inclusive for persons with disabilities which can be founf here: http://www.susana.org/lang-en/library?view=ccbktypeitem&type=2&id=1210

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