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

July 17, 2013

ODF and disability issues

When the Nepal government brought the Sanitation and Hygiene Master plan in 2011, the concept of the Open Defecation Free, ODF in short was relatively new. Master plan targeted to improve the status of sanitation dramatically in the whole country by 2017 and the main indicator set to judge this was to check whether the particular area was ODF or not. ODF simply means that nobody in a certain area defecates in Open. In other words, everybody has access to a toilet.

The result was- every development activity in any villages or cities in Nepal got linked up with ODF. In these two years, more 800 Village Development Committees (VDCs) and 8 districts have been declared ODF. There are more of them on the verge of ODF declaration. The ODF declaration ceremony is also.

ODF is a very good start. It will certainly help to improve the sanitation practice at a certain place. But, I think ODF itself is incomplete when it comes to addressing the needs of people with disability. According to national census 2011, there are more than 500,000 people with disabilities in Nepal and of them more than 350,000 are vulnerable and don’t have access to sanitation facilities. The prevalence of people with disabilities is in such way that they are distributed all over the country- more in rural areas than urban. These facts help us to conclude that- there are at least some persons with disability in every VDCs of Nepal.

Based on the nature and extent of their disability, persons with disabilities have different special needs while going to the toilet. Studies have shown that- there are very few disabled friendly toilets in Nepal. If we look in Kathmandu, not a single public toilet is disabled friendly. If this is the situation of capital city, we can visualize the condition of other less developed parts of the country. The bottom line is that- almost all persons with disability don’t have access to toilets. Some of them adapt them to use local solutions for using common toilets. But most of them has no alternative than to defecate in open, even today.

During ODF declaration of any village, this part of the problem is never discussed. In 800 VDCs that are declared ODF, we will be unable to find even 8 disabled friendly toilets. It is not that, these 800+ VDCs don’t have any persons with disabilities. So then the big question is – where do the persons with disabilities of these places defecate?

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

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