WaterAid in Nepal wishes all of you a very happy new year — 2013.
This coming year is of importance to us for two reasons. First, in March 2013, there will be a one-day event called NECOSAN, which stands for Nepal Conference on Sanitation. And in the middle of November, there will be the Fifth South Asia Conference on Sanitation in Kathmandu. (more…)
People with disabilities often face barriers to accessing water, sanitation and hygiene services. A major reason for this is that they are typically not consulted during the planning and installation of facilities.
Disabled people are often the poorest people in a community. Disability and poverty are interlinked – both a cause and effect of one another. As a result, disabled people are often excluded from community decision-making and their voice is left unheard.
Sometimes this exclusion happens unknowlingly, even if a service provider has planned to engage with every member of the community. Meetings may be organised at places that aren’t accessible to people with disabilities – for example, on the second or third floor. Consideration may not be given to severely disabled people who can’t leave home to participate in community meetings.
The biggest problems for people with disabilities are typically not related to their particular impairment, but obstacles in their environment and society’s perception of their value. All those responsible for providing water, sanitation and hygiene services have a key role to play in combating discrimination and overcoming attitudinal, institutional and environmental barriers to access.
Using appropriate, context-specific words that respect the dignity of people with disabilities is an essential part of equity and inclusion. If we refer to a disabled person as if there is a problem with them, we are more likely to focus on the person as a problem. This is in line with the ‘individual model’ of disability. The remedy, this model suggests, is to segregate the disabled person from society or cure them. However, if this is the case, the barriers to access will go unnoticed and continue to be an issue. (more…)
Not too long ago, high steps, narrow doors and other physical obstacles were considered to be the only barriers for people with disabilities to access water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) facilities. Service providers set about creating accessible WASH facilities focused on removing these barriers. They began to build toilets and water taps that were easy to reach, installed ramps for wheelchair users and widened toilet doors. These actions have certainly helped to make facilities more accessible for people with disabilities, but alone they have not proved to be sustainable solutions for inclusion.
Many people with disabilities are denied their right to WASH due to a different kind of barrier – attitudes. Attitudinal barriers relate to people’s perspectives towards disability; for example, people with disabilities are often viewed as ‘sick’ or ‘needy’, and providing WASH facilities for them is seen as an act of charity rather than an essential part of every programme. These barriers are due to cultural and social beliefs or taboos that have been present in society for many years. (more…)
Taps and toilets help girls stay in school
We all know how important pens and books are in schools. But less well known is how important water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) facilities are too. Schoolgirls in particular find it difficult to stay in school if there is a lack of clean, safe toilets. Without these basic facilities, the gender ratio of school-going children will never be balanced.
In Nepal, girls are treated differently to boys from early childhood, due to social and cultural beliefs. As a result, they tend to be shy, and find it hard to use mixed toilets. Mixed toilets often lack the necessary facilities for menstural hygiene management, leaving them nowhere to clean or dispose of their sanitary pads. As a result, many girls miss school or drop out completely, affecting their academic performance and limiting their options as adults. (more…)
Recently, I got the opportunity to take part in a rally to put pressure on the Government to take the issues of water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) more seriously. The rally was part of the South Asia Regional campaign on Sanitation. held on 19 March in Kathmandu.
The campaign was joined by school students, teachers, journalists, representatives from different non-governmental organisations (NGOs), Members of Parliament from countries in the South Asia region and high level government authorities from Nepal. The rally urged the South Asian governments to keep their promises on sanitation. Two members of the UK House of the Lords were also present and walked together with more than thousand other participants to show support for the cause.
I was amazed and encouraged to see a significant number of people with disabilities present at the campaign as people with disabilities are often not represented by issue-based organisations. But WaterAid in Nepal, who co-hosted the campaign, are committed to including people with disabilities in campaign activities. They invited the National Federation for the Disabled, Nepal (NFDN) and the umbrella organisation of all disability public organisations (DPOs) to the events.