Access to water a concern for them
Half of the people with disabilities in Bangladesh have problem in personally collecting water from sources, while 14 percent find it difficult to access drinking water at home when needed, said a study.
The study titled "Nationwide Assessment of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) and incontinence situation of persons with disabilities and older people in Bangladesh", was conducted by Bangladesh Society for the Change and Advocacy Nexus (B-SCAN) in collaboration with icddr,b.
A total of 2,378 individuals from 32 districts, including 1,253 with disability, participated in this study conducted between November 2022 and October 2023. Of the participants with disability, 47 percent were aged above 70.
Kazi Farhat Tabassum and Mehedi Hasan revealed the key findings at a discussion held at The Daily Star Centre in the capital yesterday.
Around 55 percent of persons with disability do not have privacy at their bathing place while above 90 percent said they lacked access to wheelchair-friendly entry paths and height-adjustable commodes, as per the study.
"More than 90 percent of them face physical constraints as the primary barrier while collecting drinking water, while 16 percent are dependent on caregivers. Besides, WASH facilities being available at a distance from home adds to their burdens," said Tabassum.
More than half of the female respondents with disabilities did not use sanitary napkins during their last menstruation, indicating an urgent need for a change in the future to maintain their menstrual hygiene.
Both people and policy makers should be made aware in this regard for sustainable and impactful reformations, recommended Salma Mahbub, general secretary of B-Scan.
"No budget or policy can bring change unless we alter our mindset about people with disabilities. We have to know of their needs and rights, and work to ensure them," said Fayazuddin Ahmad, advocacy and campaign lead of WaterAid Bangladesh
Khalekur Rahman, superintendent engineer of the Department of Public Health Engineering, stressed the lack of available data as this leads to failure in implementing development projects.