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

June 26, 2013

You have the power to change our world!!

Most of the times, Nepali media present the persons with disabilities as someone who are weak, ill-fated and fragile. This portrayal has often influenced common people to think that- providing basic needs to people with disability is a noble deed, a social welfare. What is never discussed is that- people with disabilities have equal rights as others to basic needs and services. Every development sector should consider these rights while providing its services to the general people. Water and sanitation sector is no different.

We all know that, of all disadvantaged groups of people, persons with disability are most vulnerable. They are among the poorest and untreated groups. It is very common that they may be left out in many development programmes including water and sanitation. But it shouldn’t be concluded that- all disabled persons are weak and fragile based on the above facts.

A person’s disability is the result of different barriers around him/her rather than his/her impairment. For example, if a disabled person is provided with accessible infrastructure around his/ her house and community then s/he her/ himself can lead own life with ease. These accessible infrastructures would include- ramps instead of stairs, wide doors, toilets with commode and support bars, wash basins at low heights, shower chairs, kitchen utensils and accessories at low heights etc. On the contrary, a person with some physical impairment, if not provided with accessible facilities, will suffer from severe disabilities. In that case, he would need support for everything- to get inside a home, use toilet, bathing or even to move. (more…)

June 19, 2013

I do not need a separate toilet

One of the reasons that the organisations working in the sanitation sector do not give much interest in building disabled friendly toilets is – they think it requires more additional costs. They believe that the inclusion of people with disability in the sanitation means building a separate toilet for disabled people and this would certainly hike up their budget. Therefore, even the issue of accessibility comes up in the planning and discussion phase, very few people actually build one. Thus it is very important to make everybody understand- the actual meaning of inclusion.

Inclusion process does not require building a separate toilet for people with disability. Instead, it is a process of making the sanitation facilities accessible and suitable for every member of the community- whether they are disabled persons or not. Also, an inclusive toilet doesn’t increase one’s budget.  Some cases opened up by the different organisations have shown that if planned from initial phase, accessible toilets would cost only 2-3% more of the actual budget. (more…)

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


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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