Free course supports water disability-inclusion

Image: WaterAid / Sokmeng You

A free online resource has been launched to help make global water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services more disability-inclusive.

Figures from the World Health Organisation show around one billion people - or 15% of the world’s population - lives with a disability. It is estimated that around half of this number live in countries affected by conflict and natural disasters.

People with disabilities have generally poorer health, fewer economic opportunities and higher rates of poverty than people without disabilities, largely due to the lack of services available to them. They often report experiencing physical, social, and institutional barriers to water and sanitation services, especially in developing countries.

It is vital the people responsible for proving water and sanitation services at every level understand the additional barriers preventing those with disabilities from accessing these services, and are empowered to help change it. That is why a new online course has been produced by The World Bank, Unicef and WaterAid, with financial support from the Global Water Security and Sanitation Partnership Trust Fund.

It teaches concepts, tools and mechanisms to ensure WASH programmes, services and facilities are accessible to people with disabilities, especially in development and humanitarian contexts.

Through the introductory online course, learners can:

  • Increase their knowledge and understanding of people with disabilities, disability-inclusive WASH
  • Understand the barriers people with disabilities face when accessing WASH services and products; and how to identify and address these barriers
  • Learn how to design, implement, monitor and evaluate disability-inclusive WASH programmes in development or humanitarian contexts.

The course is open to a global audience, but is especially relevant to WASH practitioners and decision-makers (governments, utilities, NGOs, service providers, UNICEF, WaterAid and the World Bank Group staff) working in development, fragile and conflict-affected states or humanitarian contexts. It takes around 90 minutes and users can complete modules in any order and at their own pace.

Addressing the physical, institutional, and social barriers to accessing water and sanitation is critical to making these critical services available to people with disabilities whether they are at home, at school, using healthcare services or out in public spaces.

Not only that but it also has significant knock on benefits for those providing care and support roles for family members with disabilities and those with other vulnerabilities, for example young children, pregnant women, older persons, as well as those with temporary injuries and disabilities - which is a group particularly visible in conflict-affected and fragile areas.

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