Cracking the code for inclusive WASH in Vanuatu

A smiling mother and her daughter sit outside their home in a community in Vanuatu

In Vanuatu, World Vision has been supporting people with a disability and their caregivers with accessible latrines. Caroline and her mother, Lesline, are very happy with these changes! (World Vision Vanuatu) 


In Vanuatu, innovative VIP latrines made from locally sourced and sustainable materials are helping to crack the code for safe and inclusive water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) for people with disabilities and their caregivers.


For 12-year-old Caroline, who was born with cerebral palsy that affects her posture and balance, and her mother Lesline, a 30-year-old single mother of two who relies on agriculture for her livelihood, a customised disability-inclusive VIP latrine and walkway providing clear access to it has made a significant and positive difference in their lives.


Before receiving the VIP latrine through World Vision Vanuatu’s Laetem Dak Kona project, Caroline would have to crawl to reach the toilet, which was located outside her home and some distance away, often in unsanitary conditions. With the toilet itself built to the specifications of her mobility needs, Caroline can now manage her own hygiene needs in a safe and more dignified way. Her family also has improved WASH access, which is essential for everyone’s health, wellbeing and participation in economic, educational and social opportunities.


WASH is a gendered issue, with women often bearing a socially prescribed responsibility for household water provision and providing WASH-related care to family members who require it. People with disabilities are believed to comprise between 5% and 12% of Vanuatu’s population and are more disadvantaged than other sections of the community. People with disabilities often experience substantial barriers to accessing WASH, particularly within their households – barriers are wide-ranging and variable, but can include the physical inaccessibility of WASH facilities or the path towards them, risk of violence or stigma, inaccessible WASH information, unavailability of support and lack of involvement in policy and practice.


The 2030 Agenda is underpinned by a commitment to leave no one behind. We will not get SDG6 back on track without accelerating gender equality and including diverse and First Nations/Indigenous voices, and programs targeted at empowering women and  marginalised groups.


Climate change will escalate risks and exacerbate impacts, particularly on vulnerable populations. Inclusive water and WASH are critical connectors for community resilience and the ability to adapt and respond to increasing climate hazards. Vanuautu has recently experienced multiple climate disasters


The Laetem Dak Kona project, supported by the Australian Government through Water for Women, was implemented by World Vision Vanuatu with and through key partners in the two northern provinces of Vanuatu, Sanma and Torba, from 2018-2022.


With the aim of achieving improved health and well-being for women and people with disabilities in these provinces through access to gender-equitable and disability-inclusive WASH systems, the project delivered improved WASH access for more than 5,900 people, including over 2,939 women and girls, 1,405 people with a disability and 3,048 men and boys during its five-year implementation.


Building on Laetem Dak Kona, Water for Women is partnering with World Vision Vanuatu from 2023-2024 to improve climate-resilient WASH for at-risk community members by promoting systems strengthening, new learning and use of evidence at national and subnational level, with community-wide WASH improvements that adapt for climate change and extreme weather events and consider the different needs of women and marginalised people within communities.


To celebrate International Women's Day, we are pleased to invite you to our World Water Day event that will highlight Pacific voices for climate-resilient water and WASH and take these learnings and messages to the UN Water Conference 2023 in New York, a watershed moment for the water and WASH sectors.


Wednesday 22nd March

10am Melbourne | 11am Fiji | 6pm New York


Register now

A blue graphic tinted overlay of a scene of a rural village in PNG. There is an event title written in white: 'Women at the forefront: Valuing diverse voices, leadership and action on SDG6' along with event details

A climate-resilient future needs #WomenUpstream


Women are at the forefront of change - Recognising and valuing the critical contributions of women, including Indigenous women, as decision-makers, stakeholders, farmers, educators, carers and experts across sectors and at all levels is key to a climate-resilient future. Recognition and meaningful action on this front is a “game-changer” and the key to successful and sustainable solutions to climate change and achieving SDG 6.


Climate change will escalate risks and exacerbate impacts, particularly on vulnerable populations. Inclusive and equitable water and WASH are critical connectors for community resilience, equipping communities to adapt and respond to increasing climate hazards.


On International Women's Day we call for diverse perspectives at the decision-making table to strengthen prospects for more holistic and sustainable solutions to climate related issues at all levels – from global to local.


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