Envis Centre, Ministry of Environment & Forest, Govt. of India

Printed Date: Saturday, July 13, 2024

Disability & Sanitation

Access to safe and clean water and sanitation facilities is a basic right of all people, including people with disabilities, the denial of which can have serious implications on their well-being. For example, inaccessible toilet and water facilities are major contributing factors for school dropout among children with disabilities.


The access to clean water and basic sanitation is a right also guaranteed under the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.


According to UN estimates, 4 to 6% of the world's population suffers some form of disability, with the poorest of the poor the most affected. Disability appears in many forms and poses obstacles to daily life also related to water and sanitation. Fetching water, personal hygiene, washing clothes and dishes, and accessing and using the toilet – water and sanitation related tasks – all pose challenges to those living with disability.




Article 28 in the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities focuses on the right of persons with disabilities “to an adequate standard of living for themselves and their families; this includes State Parties duty to ensure equal access to clean water services”.


Millennium Development Goal 7 Target C is to halve the proportion of the population without access to clean water and basic sanitation by 2015 (UN 2000). According to the UN, an estimated one billion individuals, roughly 15% of the world’s population is persons with disabilities (WHO 2011). Presumably, if persons with disabilities make up 15% of the world’s population, then they also comprise roughly 15% of all those reflected in such statistics. Thus Goal 7 Target C will not be achieved unless persons with disabilities are routinely included in water and sanitation programmes (Groce & Trani 2009).


Such access is a right also guaranteed under the new UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities which came into force in May 2008 (UN 2006). Article 9 of the Convention specifically ensures persons with disability equal access to the physical environment and the identification and elimination of all obstacles and barriers to such accessibility; Article 28 recognises the right of persons with disabilities to an adequate standard of living for themselves and their families, including adequate food, clothing and housing, and Article 32 ensures that international cooperation, including international development programmes, are inclusive of and accessible to persons with disabilities (UN 2006).













New Delhi, Feb 7, 2014: The Cabinet on 6 February, 2014 approved the proposal of the Department of Disability Affairs to incorporate amendments in the proposed Rights of the Persons with Disabilities Bill, 2014, which are:-


  • Definition of person with disability in terms of interaction with barriers also
  • High support needs person enabled to take independent and inform decision also;
  • Definition of low vision will be notified by the Government;
  • The appropriate Government to take necessary steps to ensure reasonable accommodation for persons with disabilities;
  • No person with disability will be discriminated on grounds of disability;
  • Appropriate Governments to ensure that the persons with disabilities enjoy legal capacity on an equal basis with others, in all aspects of life to have equal rights as any other person before law;
  • Recognizing legal capacity of person with disability, limited guardianship would be the norm, to enable the person with disability to take joint decision with legal guardian;
  • Person with disability would also have the right to appeal against the decision of appointment of legal guardian;
  • Disability Certificate to be valid across the country;
  • Educational institutions funded and recognized will have to provide inclusive education for children with disability;
  • The appropriate Governments to constitute to expert committee with representation of persons with disabilities for identification of posts for Government employment for persons with disabilities;
  • Review period shortened from 5 years to 3 years in case of identified posts;
  • 5 per cent vacancies reserved for persons with disabilities will be computed against the total number of vacancies in the cadre strength;
  • National Commission and State Commission will have power to exempt any post in an establishment from the purview of reservation for persons with disabilities;
  • For greater coverage and employability in Government sector, the appropriate Governments to prescribe relaxation for upper age limit for employment of PwDs;
  • National Commission shall formulate and enforce regulations. Read more....




The H-West Federation and Wake Up Bandra organised the third MUSTRun this morning in the suburb of Bandra. Over 400 Municipal School children and Senior Citizens raced down a 2 km route around the streets of Bandra while nearly 100 persons with disability on wheelchairs and crutches powered down a cool sea-kissed 1 km route.


MUSTRun this year saw the launch of two important initiatives by the H-West Federation. The first one is a campaign for a disabled-friendly H-West Ward in partnership with ADAPT, formerly The Spastics Society of India. Speaking on the occasion, Neenu Kewlani, crusader for accessibility for the disabled and a wheelchair user herself, said “Persons with disability find it extremely difficult to negotiate ordinary activities which able people take for granted, such as visiting a bank or a restaurant or a cinema hall or even using a toilet. Provision of access is the first change that needs to occur to make a difference to this community that constitutes such a large percentage of the population.” Varsha Hooja, Trustee & CEO, ADAPT, elaborating on the project said that the campaign would start with a disability audit in the Ward identifying institutions which do not have access facilities and then embarking on a task of enrolment of these entities to make the necessary infrastructural changes. She also mentioned that this project with the Federation was the first for any Ward in Mumbai and hoped that schools would also introduce access features for the differently abled including in toilets. 8 institutions in the Ward that have made some initial changes to their infrastructure to enable access to the disabled were honoured at the event. Read more....




Lack of disabled-friendly sanitation infrastructures in public places across the country has deprived differently-abled people of their right to water and sanitation. Of 513,321 people with disabilities, 233,235 are females and 280,086 are males. District-wise, Kathmandu has the highest population of people with disabilities (17,122) and Manang the lowest (204).


WaterAid Nepal today launched two reports The Status of Water-borne Disease and Sanitation in Different Districts, and Districtwise Disability Data and Their Access to Status of Their Health and Water, Sanitation and Hygiene. Eighty five per cent of households have access to drinking water. Eleven per cent of households rely on non-improved sources of drinking water. The majority of households (82 per cent) do not treat drinking water. Only 46 per cent of households in urban areas treat drinking water compared to 13 per cent in rural areas. Minister for Health and Population Khagaraj Adhikari pledged to take important steps to create a favourable environment for differently-abled citizens. “If the needs of the differently-abled are not prioritised, we will be deprived of talented minds,” he added. Read more....


Related Website


Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (Divyangjan) Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, Government of India