WaterAid Nepal launched two reports on Tuesday that found that the lack of handicap accessible sanitation infrastructure in public places has deprived differently-abled persons of their right to proper sanitation and water.
According to the reports, people with disabilities don’t enjoy the same right to water and sanitation as other because of the inaccessibility of taps and toilets in private homes, housing colonies, and public places like governmental offices, schools, malls, amongst others. Of the 61 public toilets in the Kathmandu Valley, not a single one is handicap accessible.
The reason why the issue is so problematic is because most of the people with disabilities live in rural areas, where the access to proper sanitation is even worse due to remoteness, lack of safe water, and open defecation practice. The lack of safe, private, dignified access to sanitation facilities has an adverse effect on the health of persons with handicaps.
The problems are also particularly rough in the country’s airports and hospitals.
Nepal’s Tribhuvan International Airport ails from congestion, stinking toilets, and crowded desks, which creates clear problems for everyone, particularly handicapped persons. Ang Tsering Sherpa, President of Nepal Mountaineering Association said, “Tourists often complain about poor service at the TIA. When we point this out to the authorities, they always turn a deaf ear.”
The Himalayan Times reported that there wasn’t a single toilet in working condition at the Bajura District Hospital. “I got admitted to the hospital today,” Khinta Rawal, a patient, said. “I do not know how am I going to stay here given such dirty toilets here in the hospital.”
Perhaps the issue might be resolved with more governmental regulation. The U.S. has the Americans with Disabilities Act to help disabled persons with various situations, such as restrooms. The ADA sets a standard height of 17″-19″ from the floor to the top of the seat. If the Nepalese government were to adopt such measures, less disabled persons would be deprived of their right to sanitation and water.
Khagaraj Adhikari, Minister for Health and Population, pledged to take important steps to improve handicap accessibility. He said, “If the needs of the differently-abled are not prioritized, we will be deprived of talented minds.”