Disability Helpdesks serving the WASH needs of people with disabilities

A disability help desk focal person is sitting at the desk in Nepal, viewed side on, as if through a door

A focal person of the Chandandagar Rural Municipality at the help desk on a work day (SNV Nepal) 


People with disabilities are often excluded from accessing water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services. Such was the reality in the rural municipalities (RMs) in Sarlahi district of Nepal. Here their WASH needs were overlooked - with little information available about existing services within the municipality, and a lack of coordination within RMs on disability inclusion and related service improvements.


However, with technical support from SNV, through their Australian Government supported Water for Women project, WASH services are steadily improving in these RMs.


In early 2021, Chandranagar, Parsa, Kaudena, and Ramnagar RMs established disability helpdesks which are now are offering services to persons with disabilities relating to water and hygiene. These helpdesks, mandated as part of the Government’s decentralisation plan, have been set up to actualise the needs of persons with disabilities through advocacy, capacity building, networking and collaborations, and act as a referral service providing WASH related information (services made available by the Government, etc.) and maintain an updated dataset on persons with disabilities in the municipalities.


Set up jointly as a collaborative effort between the disabled people’s organisation (DPO) and the RMs, these helpdesks provide a one-stop facility for addressing WASH and other development needs of persons with disabilities. Towards this objective, SNV and local partner staff actively lobbied for such a set up with the RMs, including sensitising the RMs to the need for such a helpdesk, and the needs of persons with disabilities in particular with regards to water and hygiene. Once active, the services of the helpdesks were promoted through behaviour change communications (BCC) initiatives to support uptake.


These helpdesks, run also by persons with disabilities, have been providing regular counselling services to persons with disabilities on WASH; as well as provisioning sanitary pads and soaps, etc. during the Covid-19 pandemic and related lockdowns in the country.


Chandranagar was the first rural municipality in Sarlahi district to establish a helpdesk. Every day, the help desk serves an average of 15 people, including 5-7 females. Owing to the availability of sanitary pads at the helpdesk, its female staff are regularly at work during menstruation and themselves have been promoting the importance of availability of sanitary pads at work places. Khushbu Jaiswal, Focal Person, Kaudena, helpdesk noted, "We support women with disabilities in managing menstrual hygiene by providing counselling, sanitary pads and through our BCC efforts. As a result of the helpdesk, menstruation practices are steadily changing in our area”.


These efforts have also strengthened the RMs’ understanding of the needs of persons with disabilities. This is reflected in the RMs specifically allocating budgets for persons with disabilities for WASH services for the financial year.


The RM and WASH-CC Chair of Thantikhand noted, “Previously, we had little knowledge about the particular needs of people with disabilities, and that of women, when it comes to WASH. However, the Disability Inclusive Development training, the inclusive WASH assessment, and several activities organised by the project sensitised us and motivated us to include them in the WASH-CC at the RM and ward levels.”






Learn how Water for Women are engaging meaningfully with people with disabilities in their full range of diversity and how more marginalised people with disabilities can be successfully reached, even when disability inclusion is relatively new to an organisation or team by downloading our latest learning brief below.

A blue graphic with the words 'Just launched' and a thumbnail of the cover of a HWS learning Brief

On International Day of Persons with Disabilities we celebrate the diverse lives and capabilities of people with disabilities – their knowledge, aspirations, and the solutions they bring to the table.


Climate change has the most impact on the poorest people and people with disabilities make up 20% of those most vulnerable to climate impacts. Inclusive development is more important than ever for creating a fair and equal society and building climate-resilience. Without it, there cannot be resilience. Inclusive WASH is a critical building block for the creation of an accessible and equitable world – an essential pathway towards building the health and resilience of all people to respond to the climate-related challenges in fair, just and equitable ways.


Being able to account for diversity in populations is critical to ensuring WASH services reach all people. Despite people with disabilities making up an estimated 1 billion people globally, many, particularly those living in remote and marginalised communities do not have equitable access to WASH services because their needs and interests haven’t been considered.


Our partners are working across Asia Pacific to ensure WASH services and systems are disability-inclusive and accessible to all.


Contact Us