Some of the poorest and most marginalized people in the world are unfortunatly those with disabilities.

Relatively small adjustments to water and sanitation services can ensure that the needs of disabled persons are not overlooked, improving the dignity, health, and overall quality of life of those already disadvantaged.

According to UN estimates, 4 to 6% of the world's population suffer some form of disability, with the poorest of the poor the most affected. Disability appears in many forms and poses obstacles to daily life also related to water and sanitation. Fetching water, personal hygiene, washing clothes and dishes, and accessing and using the toilet – water and sanitation-related tasks – all pose challenges to those living with disability.

Planning for and including people with various disabilities in the design of water and sanitation services is a necessary first step to inclusive coverage. Adjustments do not have to be expensive or extensive, yet they create benefits for everyone. Equal-access facilities support self-confidence, independence, and dignity of the disabled while easing the burden of caregivers – often women and girls.

Planning for those with a disability during construction of water and sanitation services should not overlook basic ergonomics in design. While it is important to have a water tap stand at the level of a wheelchair, for example, designers should also include taps at a level of the average adult lest disability result from usage – such as adults lifting heavy buckets of water from low tap stands.

WSSCC advocates for better inclusion of disabled people's needs in planning and implementation of water and sanitation facilities, to enable everyone to enjoy the benefits of this basic human right.

Last updated: Tue, 11/16/2010 - 12:20