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.

I will give my personal example. I am a wheelchair user. I have a ramp in my home. My toilet has a commode and wide door. I can use toilet and bath myself. I have four-wheeler scooter. I can get up to the scooter and ride it alone to my office. In my office too, there are ramps installed and accessible bathrooms. Here too, I can do all my works including moving in a wheelchair. Thus, due to accessible infrastructures provided, my disability has very little impact on my life when I am at my home or office. But when I am at my relatives’ homes, I am fully disabled. I can’t go to the bathroom, my wheelchair can’t go inside due to stairs, other people have to help me even for the small things in such places.

Different people will have different perceptions about me based on where they meet me. Those who meet me in my home will see me as one who is happy and leading a normal life. Others who meet me at inaccessible places may find me severely disabled. Here, they can make a guess – that I am weak and fragile. Similar is the case with other five hundred thousands people with disabilities in Nepal.

Thus I urge everybody working in the development sector including water and sanitation – instead of seeing us as needy and ill-fated people and thinking of providing services to us as a charity, please take into account that, we too, have human rights like you do. If it is a compulsion to provide basic services to non-disabled people, then it is the same for us as well. You have the power to minimise our disability by providing accessible facilities for us everywhere. So please use that power and make our life easier.

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