Planning for inclusion: exploring access to WASH for women and men with disabilities in Jaffna District, Sri Lanka
While Sri Lanka has made significant progress over the last decade in improving rates of access to Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH), this improvement has not been uniform across the country. People living in the conflict-affected Jaffna District have substantially lower rate of access to WASH services than the national average. Hence, efforts are being made to improve WASH coverage in this region. World Vision is one such organisation working to improve access to safe drinking water and sanitation in Jaffna District, with funding from the Australian Government. This program includes a specific focus on reaching the most vulnerable groups in the community, including people with disabilities. In 2015, World Vision completed a baseline assessment to inform project implementation, and establish an evidence base for measuring change. Given the focus on disability inclusion, a key part of this was to identify the extent to which people with disabilities had access to WASH in project areas. To supplement this baseline, in early 2016, World Vision funded an in-depth assessment of disability, to further explore the experiences and perceptions of people with disabilities in accessing WASH. Findings from both these studies are presented, which highlight the complex and interacting barriers faced by people with disabilities in accessing WASH facilities and the impact this has on their lives. The different experiences of women and men with disabilities are also explored, and recommendations to strengthen inclusive WASH practice in Sri Lanka are provided.