December 3, 2021

Odisha Channel Bureau
Bhubaneswar: A state-level consultation on inclusive, accessible climate resilient WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene) was jointly organised by CFAR, Odisha Association for Blind and Odisha Vikalang Manch. The consultation stressed on sanitation for all free from discrimination and bias.
Rights of the disabled to secure WASH services as guaranteed under Section 24 and 37 of the Rights to Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 was affirmed by all stakeholders present on the occasion of International Persons with Disabilities Day.

This is about going beyond the 488 households or 5.7% of the disabled identified by the community management committee in 57 slums and include all those facing diverse disabilities and finding it difficult to access WASH.

Speaking about this Swagat Jhankar Mallick, Disability Lead in CFAR said that when we went house by house to 62 households in two slums we found 30% struggling to access WASH because some could not see, some could not hear and some could not climb stairs and some could not follow instructions in public facilities.

Team of community researchers facilitated by CFAR fielded six questions developed by Washington Group of Centre for Disease Control. The question that got posed was whether we are capturing disability related data meaningfully and effectively especially in the context of pandemic and climate threat.

Taking this forward, Samir Ranjan Dash, State Lead CFAR, said that given the global call to make realisation of the sustainable development goal everyone’s issue and ‘leave no one behind’, our major concern is to ensure proper estimation and counting of persons with disabilities. “Without proper enumeration and count of persons with disabilities we cannot succeed in making WASH services truly inclusive,” he said.

All decision makers and duty bearers were concerned about going beyond intent and strengthening social inclusion with focus on ensuring meaningful inclusion of persons with disabilities.

This was best reflected by Sarada Prasad Director, State Urban Development Agency and Special Secretary H&UD, Government of Odisha who in his inaugural address extended wholehearted support to CFAR and Community Management Committee and Single Window Forum in strengthening inclusive WASH.

“Let us join together for providing accessible WASH facilities to disabled persons like household toilets and accessible community toilets. We would like to partner with the Odisha Association for the Blind so that we can involve students in marketing and conduct special training programmes for them,” he said.

Sanyasi Kumar Behera, District Social Security Officer (HQs), SSEPD said that WASH is a fundamental right enabling persons with disabilities to live with dignity. Disabled persons should be linked to AJVIKA Livelihood Scheme and short term vocational training to enhance their livelihood under the Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Grameen Kaushalya Yojana, he added.

Sharing experiences and insights of WASH, Purna Chandra Mohanty, Programme Coordinator, Water Aid said that the three special elements for disability inclusion were safe water and sanitation, disaster preparedness and accessible sanitary toilets designed with support of persons with disability.

In his keynote address, Kalyan Rath, Additional Secretary, H&UD stated that as a first step Odisha Association for the Blind should be renamed as Odisha Association for Visually Challenged Persons. Secondly, we must reach out to CSR platforms to provide inclusive sanitation products and services for disabled community members.

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