People with disabilities represent a large portion of the world’s population
Fifteen percent of the global population has a disability – that’s one in seven people. People with disabilities include ‘people with long-term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairments which in interaction with various barriers may hinder their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others’. Of these:
- 1 in 3 people are aged over 60 and are at greater risk from COVID-19.
- An estimated 110-190 million adults have significant difficulties in functioning and often will rely on professional or informal caregivers.
Including people with disabilities is about recognising basic human rights
The UN recognises that the Human Rights to Water and Sanitation are essential to achieving all other human rights. This includes the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which has been signed by 163 countries, and stipulates that humanitarian responses must be disability inclusive (Article 11). Recently, the UN’s Secretary General urged governments “to place people with disabilities at the center of COVID-19 response and recovery efforts and to consult and engage people with disabilities”.
As a number of human rights specialists state in this blog, applying the principles of human rights (equality and non-discrimination, participation, transparency, accountability and sustainability) within COVID-19 responses can reduce inequalities. Community-level hygiene and COVID-19 prevention programmes are also an opportunity for WASH actors to practice disability-inclusive WASH, something the sector has been prioritising in recent years.
Want to know more about considering disability in COVID-19 hygiene programmes:
- Are people with disabilities at higher risk during the COVID-19 pandemic?
- What do we know in general about disability and WASH access?
- What specific barriers might people with disabilities face in relation to handwashing with soap?
- How can we ensure people with disabilities are included in all COVID-19 hygiene promotion programmes?
Written by: Jane Wilbur
Last updated: 25.5.2020