Children with disabilities are one of the most marginalized groups in society, facing daily discrimination that bars them from enjoying their rights and participating on an equal basis with the rest of society. The circumstances are often exacerbated in emergencies, especially concerning the access to sanitation services.
During a humanitarian response, the sanitation facilities in displacement and refugee camps typically involve the construction of latrines. Unfortunately, these are not suitable for children with mobility or vision impairments who have difficulty squatting or balancing.
UNICEF worked with the private sector to develop an add-on product that attaches to the standard squatting plate dispatched in emergencies.
After consulting with field partners and beneficiaries to understand their needs, UNICEF worked with industry partners to develop two products to meet those needs: Product 1, a device that screws onto the squatting plate with a supportive frame; and Product 2, a similar device that fits over the squatting plate with a supportive frame, in addition to a transfer point to move onto the seat. Both products were developed to offer simplicity in terms of transportation and assembly so that implementation during emergencies is quick and seamless.
This is the first ever disability-inclusive latrine provided by UNICEF through a co-creation innovation process with industry partners.
“He can hold the handles on the sides when he sits so I don’t have to hold him. I just watch and make sure he’s okay.”
Monira’s son, Hashim, suffers from an intellectual impairment, making it difficult to access sanitation services.
The products were piloted in refugee camps in Bangladesh, directly supporting 33 per cent of persons w/disabilities in the targeted area. Additionally, secondary beneficiaries, like those with chronic illnesses, older people or pregnant women have also benefitted from the latrines. Results have been positive, with beneficiaries now able to independently use a latrine without the need for a caretaker’s support. Providing children with disabilities a chance to live independently and with dignity is essential to restoring their rights as children.
To ensure more children with disabilities are reached, UNICEF will introduce the product into their Emergency Supplies List and humanitarian responses in 2020, aiming to include the new add-on component to 10 per cent of all squatting plates dispatched in an emergencies. This estimates to 2,500 disability-friendly latrines dispatched each year, reaching thousands of children with disabilities worldwide.