Using a dirty washroom can be a real challenge. This is the kind of defy I face when I travel and work overseas. Each time, I think I am a lucky girl, imaging what it would be like if I were disabled!
Disabled people represent the largest socially excluded group across the world. In many cases, they live without access to basic toilets, thus exacerbating poverty and lack of dignity. Earlier this year, the World Health Organization (WHO) published the world’s first report on disability, showing that over a billion people—15% of the world’s population—are disabled, a large majority of whom living in developing countries.
Interestingly, disabled people have historically been excluded from development work and research. One of the best examples is the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs, http://www.un.org/millenniumgoals/). How can we impact significantly the different facets of global poverty, if there is not a specific focus on the poorest of the poor—i.e. the disabled.
Disability is less about health and far more about social and economic barriers to inclusion. Poor sanitation, unsafe water, a lack of access to healthcare, and malnutrition can all lead to disabling conditions. For this reason, the WHO report puts safe water and sanitation at the centre of helping to prevent disability and poverty.
Accessible toilets enable disabled people to be independent and lead healthier, more dignified lives. Simple adaptations can make a world of difference, allowing a disabled person to use a latrine rather than needing to defecate in the open. This would help to put an end to poor health and debilitating diarrhea.
WaterAid (http://www.wateraid.org/) is committed to ensuring access for all and breaking down the barriers that face disabled people.
To read more about the different initiatives undertaken by WaterAid and how simple ideas and technology can change lives and re-establish a person in society, go to:
~~Stay tuned for updates about the wonderful things happening around the world~~