Disability inclusive WASH benefits all!

A wheelchair user entereing an accessible toilet in Bangladesh
An accessible toilet for persons with disabilities, Bangladesh

CBM, together with partner organisation ‘Centre for Disability in Development' (CDD) has been working to improve access to safe water and sanitation during and after disaster periods in Bangladesh (where flooding is a common problem). This work is part of ongoing 'disaster risk reduction' projects and is being run in consultation with the local communities (including persons with disabilities and their families), local government and administration.

Disaster risk reduction

Flooding is a common phenomenon for the people of Shreepur union in the riverside district of Gaibandha, in northern Bangladesh.
CBM, together with its partner Centre for Disability in Development (CDD) implemented a pilot project - Disability inclusive Disaster Risk Reduction Project (DiDRR) from October 2009 to June 2011. The project was an extension of CBM commitment of Inclusive Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Response.

Inclusion essential

A tent toilet in Bangladesh ©CDD
A common inaccessible unhygienic toilet in the community a pre-project photo
The project was designed in consultation with the local communities (including persons with disabilities and their families) local government and administration.

One of the needs identified was access to safe water and sanitation during and after disaster periods. Persons with disabilities mentioned, "we feel that our dignity is stripped each day when we need to use the toilet depending on others; if only we could access and use the latrine and the water source by ourselves."
To encourage positive Water Sanitation and  Hygiene practices the project created local level awareness. In the working area, Ward Disaster Management Committees (WDMC) have been formed, where at least 10% are persons with disabilities and 30% are women. In each committee there is a task force on Water and Sanitation who are trained to support persons with disabilities to access water and sanitation facilities during flood.

If necessary they will communicate with different government and non-government organisations to face the situation. People are also assigned for the repair and maintenance of the accessible tube-wells - these groups also include persons with disabilities and their families.


A young man behind a could of steam (making tea) ©Shumon Ahmed/ CDD
A tea stall run by a person with disability next to an accessible tube-well location in a market
As a result of these developments, persons with disabilities using these facilities are happy, saying that they to some extent feel empowered to access the toilet and to collect safe drinking water from the tube-wells.

They no longer need to wait for a family member for support.

A physically impaired adolescent boy, who runs a tea-stall by an accessible tube-well in the market, mentioned more people are visiting his stall and drinking tea.

These people come to use and collect water, as the tube-well is installed in a public location, and is easier to access.

An example for the future

A woman in a wheelchair drawing water using a hand pump in Bangladesh ©CDD
A woman using an accessible hand pump
It is estimated that 9,000 people are benefiting from the inclusive WASH facilities of the CBM supported project.

It is expected that this demonstration of Inclusive Development will encourage future constructions to consider disaster risks as well as accessibility issues concerning persons with disabilities.

Related articles

Disaster Risk Reduction

CBM working to reduce the impact of natural disasters with partner CDD in Bangladesh


What is WASH?


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