What the Global Report on Disability means for the WASH sector. 2011. WaterAid.
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This report gives an overview of the information relevant to the water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) sector in the world’s first report on disability. It also highlights how WaterAid is addressing the recommendations in the report, as well as where we could develop our approaches further.
Disabled people represent the largest socially excluded group globally and most live without access to basic sanitary services, which can exacerbate impairments and poverty. However, so far disabled people have typically been excluded from development intervention and research.
In 2011, the World Health Organisation (WHO) published the world’s first report on disability, which covers all forms of disability, from blindness to mental health issues. It updates global disability estimates for the first time in 40 years and finds that over a billion people (15% of the world’s population) are disabled.
The number of people aged 60 and over has tripled between 1950 and 2000; it is projected to triple again by 20506. Increased age increases the risk of acquiring a health condition (eg loss of sight, hearing, mental health disorders). The global disability estimate is set to rise due to increases in chronic diseases and improvements in methodologies used to measure disability.
The report states that disability is less about health conditions and more about social and economic barriers to inclusion. Health conditions that increase the risk of disability include environmental factors such as low birth weight and a lack of essential dietary nutrients. The situation is worsened by exposure to poor sanitation, unsafe water, a lack of access to healthcare and malnutrition. A person’s environment has a major effect on the prevalence and extent of disability. For this reason, the WHO report puts safe water and sanitation at the centre of helping to prevent disability and poverty.