Nepal WASH Blog Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) & Development in Nepal

March 25, 2014

I demand my money’s worth

Filed under: Advocacy,Amrita Gyawali's Post,Equity and inclusion,Human rights — nepalwash @ 9:55 am

Just recently I went to QFX Civil Mall (8th floor) to watch a movie with my friends I chose QFX Civil Mall because I found out that they had a wheelchair accessible toilet there. I was happy that I would get to watch a movie with my friends. However, when I entered the hall, I thought that there would also be accessible seating areas for a wheelchair but no attention was paid to this aspect. However, I managed to sit on a seat so that I could sit next to my friends. It wasn’t so comfortable, but I enjoyed the movie without any worries because I could use the toilet easily with privacy if had a sudden emergency.

Throughout my life; simple things such as going to a movie became a difficult task for me. As there were no disabled-friendly seats, I was always placed in the walking passage; this was very humiliating; I felt alienated. Moreover, instead of watching the movie I had to constantly wish that I did not have to use the toilet, as almost all movie theatres lacked disabled-friendly toilets.
QFX has certainly taken a good initiative by constructing disabled-friendly toilets, however if it had disabled-friendly seats that would have been even better.

The obstacles are not only limited to theatres, there are a number of big public buildings, (super markets, shopping malls, libraries, cafeterias etc) in the urban areas of Nepal but it is still hard for me to find a single wheelchair accessible toilet that I can use to relieve myself. At the end of the day, I have to return home with a sad face and heavy heart. Just try to imagine how you would feel if you had a sudden emergency to use the toilet but you couldn’t find a single toilet to urinate or defecate and had to hold it for long time; it is so distressing.

I have never enjoyed the same facilities as the other. I always have to receive second-class services. Why do I have to struggle to have enjoyable outings with friends? Sometimes I feel like being in a wheelchair is limiting my personal happiness, choices for recreation and get-together with friends and relatives. However , I know that being in a wheelchair is not the real problem, it is the way our environmental and attitudinal barriers, regards a person with disability ; people think that disability represents destitute and poor people who cannot afford to go out to cinema halls, shopping malls, restaurants and other public places. This is a misconception; just because you have a disability doesn’t mean you are destined to a poor quality of life. Such incorrect assumptions about disability are actually the most difficult barriers to overcome. As a paying customer I demand equal rights as any other customer who pays full to get services.

Why don’t people realize that making public buildings accessible for everyone will help make the lives of many people easier and happier; In addition, it will also help increase customers and gain profits. It is understandable that change cannot happen overnight but it should not be ignored. Accessibility is important for everyone -it should be everybody’s business.

This post is written by Ms. Amrita Gyawali, E & I consultant for WaterAid Nepal

June 24, 2013

A woman with disability speaks up for sanitation

I was one of the key presenters in the closing ceremony of the National Sanitation Action Week, held on 11 June in Kathmandu. The event was really informative for me. As a wheelchair user I am challenged on a daily basis when trying to access toilets. As a woman, it’s even harder.  It’s depressing that there’s not a single toilet that I can access.  This meant I had to stop going to school, college and many places I wanted to be. I missed my lessons at school and had to stay at home for self study. In a way, I was deprived of my fundamental human rights.

This post is written by Amrita Gyawali

June 14, 2013

Don’t I have right to go to toilet as easily as you do?

I attended National Conference on Sanitation (NeCoSan) on March 15. When I reached the venue, I could not see other persons with disability present there. I was the only one.

There were four different sessions going on. I went to one called- Reaching the Unreached. This session included the presentation of different experts from sanitation sector. They discussed how to include the marginalised community in the broader sanitation programmes. These were mostly technical. Some of the speakers also talked about problems faced by disabled people in sanitation. However, it all seemed very plain because neither the speaker nor the audiences were from disability community.

A volunteer helping Mr Bhoj Raj Shrestha to get out from a government building. Mr Shrestha, disability rights activitst was invited to attend a talk programme by Department of Communications. However, the main entrance of this building had stairs making it hard for him to get in. Photo Source: Republica National Daily

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May 24, 2013

Nothing about us, without us

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. (more…)

May 20, 2013

Language affects inclusion

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…)

April 29, 2013

Targeting attitudinal and institutional barriers

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…)

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