Mainstreaming disability and ageing in WASH programs

December 2, 2013 · 0 comments

Mainstreaming disability and ageing in water, sanitation and hygiene programmes; A mapping study carried out for WaterAid UK, 2013.

Hazel Jones, WEDC.

WEDC was commissioned by WaterAid to carry out a desk study to present an overview of the current state of disability and ageing issues in WASH, from the perspective of the WASH sector. This report presents the findings from this study. Both disabled and older people were looked at together, because many frail older people, although they may reject the label ‘disabled’, experience impairments that limit their daily activities, which result in them facing similar kinds of barriers to accessing WASH.

There is an increasing body of literature related to access to WASH for disabled and older people. The problems caused by this lack of access are widely documented for disabled people including the impact on their health and well-being. To a lesser extent, comparable literature is beginning to emerge for older people. In terms of solutions to the problems, the most widely documented are ‘hardware’ solutions, ie the technology required to improve physical accessibility and use, which appear to be straightforwardnd do not have to be expensive.

Less has been documented about the ‘software’ aspects of service delivery: what changes need to be made in the way organisations work, and in the way programmes are planned and implemented, to deliver accessible and inclusive services. A range of general programming guidance is available, mainly produced by the disability/ageing sector, about mainstreaming disability/ageing into programme approaches. However, the devil is in the lack of detail – on consultation with disabled and older people, on appropriate information about low-cost technology options, on inclusive design and its cost, on capacity building and attitude and behaviour change, etc.

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