Strengthening the inclusion of people with disabilities in WASH programmes
Ensuring that people with disabilities, who make up 15% of the global population, are included in WASH programmes in all settings is key. I am working with Oxfam Consults on a Norwegian Church Aid (NCA) funded project over September and October 2021 which will map the quality and quantity of inclusion of persons with disabilities in NCA’s WASH programmes. As a member of a team involving members of Oxfam’s humanitarian team and Brian Reed (freelance consultant), I will be acting as a specialist reviewer of progress reports and will provide feedback and insights into tools used in the mapping process.
Incontinence in humanitarian and low- and middle-income contexts
Incontinence, which is the involuntary loss of urine or faeces, significantly impacts upon the quality of life of people who experience the condition and those who care for them. Knowledge of incontinence is rare in many low- and middle-income countries, and therefore support for individuals with the condition is often lacking. Incontinence affects people of all genders at any stage of life, such as childhood, adolescence, pregnancy, the perimenopause and into old age. Incontinence can impact people’s physical and mental health, hygiene, and needs for practical and accessible WASH infrastructure.
I am currently supporting a project led by Oxfam GB and HelpAge International on ‘Improving the lives of older people – Understanding barriers to inclusion of older people with incontinence in humanitarian WASH programming‘, in Malawi and Ethiopia, due for completion in December 2021. My role in this project to date has been to support the team to gain ethical approval from institutions in Malawi and Ethiopia, and has recently expanded to supporting remote fieldwork between August and September 2021 in humanitarian settings in both countries, bringing new learnings around working with colleagues across the world to collect data without travelling during COVID-19. I have been involved in the writing of various publications on incontinence in WASH. As part of a multidisciplinary team, I have contributed to Guidance on supporting people with incontinence in humanitarian and low- and middle-income contexts, and a Frontiers of Sanitation published through the Sanitation Learning Hub, compiling case studies of why addressing the needs of people with incontinence is important, and highlighting effective methodologies to work with people with incontinence in order to meet their needs.
Exploring the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on progress towards the rights of girls
Progress towards achieving the rights of girls across the world has been put under threat by the COVID-19. I am currently supporting Save the Children USA and Save the Children UK’s Girls Advocacy Working Group to conduct desk-based research for and to develop their flagship Global Girlhood report, due for publication in October 2021. This project will assess how key metrics on adolescent girls’ health, protection and education have changed positively or negatively as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Understanding the experiences of disability NGOs in adapting to the COVID-19 pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected all aspects of life, including the ways in which non-governmental organisations working in the global South are operating their programmes. I worked with the International Disability and Development Consortium to produce a report, ‘Adjust and Respond: the experience of organisations working with people with disabilities in adapting to the COVID-19 pandemic’. This report was based on findings from a survey about their member organisations’ experiences of adapting to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and responding to the challenges it brings. This project was conducted as part of the UN Partnership on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities initiative and it is envisaged that the work will feed into work by UN entities. You can read a blog about the process of developing the questions for the survey and the lessons learned from this experience here. The report was launched at the United Nations Conference of State Parties at a side event in June 2021.
Building the capacity of small charities to deliver menstrual health projects in East Africa
Small charities are working in different parts of the world to deliver community-led menstrual health projects, but require some support in capacity building to ensure that their projects are effective. I have completed a project for Irise International on ‘Building the capacity of small charities to deliver effective, community-led menstrual health projects in East Africa’. This project involved a desk-based study using a survey, email interviews and a review of reports to understand the needs of small charities to deliver menstrual health projects across Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Malawi and Nigeria, to produce a report of these findings. You can read about how I designed and conducted this desk-based research in this blog.
Modern energy cooking services for people with disabilities in low-and middle-income countries
People with disabilities in low- and middle-income countries can face huge challenges when it comes to access to clean energy sources and cook stoves which are safe and easy for them to use. This project acknowledges this and aims to deliver solutions modern energy cooking services. My involvement in this research included literature review and interviews with experts on disability in low- and middle-income countries to produce four reports on cooking and disability, access to energy services for disabled people, how cooking products can be adapted to meet the needs of people with disabilities, and effective techniques to engage with people with disabilities in low- and middle-income countries. You can read a blog about this here.
The use of PhotoVoice in WASH
PhotoVoice (participatory photography) is a technique in which people are given cameras to identify, represent and enhance their communities by taking photographs. It is particularly useful for exploring hidden and taboo topics and can enable people to convey the issues they experience everyday to decision makers. In recent years, this method has been increasingly used in the WASH sector.
I have published a Learning Paper with the Sanitation Learning Hub at the Institute of Development Studies in the UK, to provide lessons learned on using PhotoVoice to explore taboo and hidden WASH topics. I conducted online interviews and literature searches to understand how PhotoVoice has been used to understand different topics in WASH, to provide information about what PhotoVoice is and how it can be useful for the WASH sector. I have taught Masters students at the Center for Water and Sanitation at CEPT University in Ahmedabad on this topic, and you can read a blog about teaching this class here.
Guidance for building accessible WASH facilities
People with disabilities often face barriers to accessing and using WASH infrastructure. In recent years, the WASH sector has increasingly looked at how to meet the needs of infrastructural needs of people with disabilities across urban, rural and humanitarian settings. I conducted some preliminary desk-based research for WaterAid UK to explore how existing guidance on constructing accessible WASH facilities for people with disabilities can be updated. This involved semi-structured online interviews and conducting an online survey. I consolidated the findings into a report recommendations for the next steps of the process.