Lack of access to safe water and basic sanitation can exacerbate impairments and poverty for people with disabilities. The extent to which people with disabilities lack access to safe water and sanitation is unknown (Wilbur et al., 2013, p. 1). However, studies show that people with disabilities face difficulties collecting water due to the distance to travel to the water pump, and heavy pump handles and water containers (Wilbur et al., 2013, p. 2; UNICEF, 2013, p. 25). In addition, they are sometimes discouraged from using water sources or forced to wait longer in line as a result of being considered unclean (Wilbur et al., 2013, p. 2; UNICEF, 2013, p. 25).
Having to use other WASH facilities, or use them at different times, increases the risk of accidents and physical attacks, including rape, especially for girls (UNICEF, 2013, p. 25). Toilets are often inaccessible and there have been cases where people have soiled themselves as a result (Wilbur et al., 2013, p. 2). Lack of accessible toilets can prevent children with disabilities from attending school (UNICEF, 2013, p. 26). Being viewed as ‘dirty’ can negatively affect people’s dignity and ability or desire to take part in the community, as well as lowering their self-esteem and willingness to assert their rights (Wilbur et al., 2013, p. 3). Communities are often unaware of how to make facilities accessible for people with disabilities (Wilbur et al., 2013, p. 3).
- UNICEF. (2013). The state of the world’s children 2013: Children with disabilities. New York: UNICEF. See document online
- Wilbur, J., Hones, H., Gosling, L., Groce, N., & Challenfer, E. (2013). Undoing inequality: Inclusive water, sanitation and hygiene programmes that deliver for all in Uganda and Zambia. Paper presented at the 36th WEDC international Conference, Nakuru, Kenya. See document online