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

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

At last, when all designated speakers finished their presentation, the organisers invited me to share my experience as a disabled person. I could see many people were excited to hear my story as I wheeled to the stage. I started with my own experience. I told them how lack of disabled friendly toilets has affected my personal and professional development. I also shared the story of my other friends who had different kind of disability but going through same problem as me.

I felt that the audiences were fully engaged in my story. Most of them were high-ranking government officials. I told them how I interpret exclusion of disabled people and what I think we should do end this exclusion. Lastly, I ended my session with a question- “Don’t I have right to go to toilet as easily as you do?”

After I finished my experience sharing, some participants expressed their views regarding disabled people access to sanitation. They said, “Though this problem comes up many times in sanitation gathering, it is not effective unless the affected groups or people come forward with their problem like today.” Some government officers even made commitments to make at least one toilet in their office disabled friendly.

I believe- sharing personal experience develops emotional relation with those who are listening to us. My participation in the NeCoSan was of similar kind. The impact was- most of the participants felt the problem genuinely. Aftermath of my participation in this conference is that, government has now become more sincere towards the problem faced by disabled people. Recently, in the closing ceremony of National Sanitation Action Week on J11 June, the government had included experience sharing of Ms Amrita Gyawali representing women with disabilities.

I hope all the institutions working in the sanitation sector will take into account the problems that we are facing due to lack of disabled friendly sanitation facilities. I hope someday very soon, I can also go to toilet easily, wherever and whenever I like.

The post is written by Mr Sagar Prasai – sagarDOTprasain@gmailDOTcom

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