Uniting for inclusive sanitation in Solomon Islands

Community members gather in a rural village in western Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands. In the surrounds there are houses made from bamboo with thatched roofs and sandy ground.

Community members gather ahead of a meeting to discuss household sanitation (Plan International Solomon Island and Live & Learn Solomon Islands)


For people living with a disability in the rural community of Isunavara in western Gualdalcanal Province, Solomon Islands, accessing safe sanitation was a daily challenge and safety concern. As is the case in many societies, throughout Solomon Islands sanitation is a taboo topic that is not usually discussed, despite the issue of open defecation, which remains a major challenge.

Around 58% of the rural population of Solomon Islands has no choice but to resort to open defecation, which is harmful to their individual health and well-being, as well as their community's, and threatens the environment, including the safety of vital waterways and crops. 

For those who do have access to a toilet, toilets are typically positioned a long way from the home, often requiring them to navigate uneven pathways that can become inaccessible during the country's regular heavy rainfall and periods of flooding. Social norms also dictate that toilets are not shared with members of the opposite sex. 

These realities can make it difficult to meet the needs of people living with a disability to accessible, inclusive and safe sanitation.Supported by Australia through Water for Women, Plan International and Live and Learn Environmental Education have been partnering with communities in western Guadalcanal and their water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) committees for the past five years to improve this situation.

During community and household monitoring activities undertaken in Isunavara as part of the context-specific, community-led total sanitation (CLTS) approach, people living with disabilities shared their experiences and difficulties with accessing inclusive WASH. 


"A community member shared that his frail father and brother who has difficulty walking, restrict their food consumption when it rains because they do not want to walk long distances to defecate in the nearby bush."

Water for Women partner


Through this process, WASH committee members became more aware of the importance of sanitation and their responsibility to support equitable access for all members of their community. Understanding the experiences of people living with disabilities in their community, and also recognising their own biases and need to change behaviours in order to leave no one behind, the WASH committee realised the importance of giving more support for those living with disabilities.

The WASH committee rallied the community to build proper toilets for people with disabilities. With support from project partners, the committee supported community sanitation efforts with technical advice and assistance to dig pits, source raw materials and construct toilets.

Water for Women partners with Plan International and Live and Learn Environmental Education to deliver Climate Adaptive and Inclusive WASH in Solomon Islands for 5,249* people living in Guadalcanal Province, including at least 525* people living with disabilities, by the end of 2024. Building on Plan International's New Times, New Targets project, completed in 2022, systems strengthening is a major focus of this current project to ensure equitable and sustainable WASH for all.


 A large piece of poster paper stuck to a wall with texta markings to indicate quartiles for high / low interest and power in relation to household sanitation. Yellow Post It Notes with community groupings and leadership positions are stuck in the different quartiles to communicate their power and interest. A note with "Old people" and "Disabled" is in the bottom right corner indicating low power but high interest.

A power analysis from a community looking at household sanitation - "Old people" and "Disabled" are shown with high interest and low power (Plan International Solomon Islands and Live & Learn Solomon Islands)



December 3rd is the United Nations International Day of Persons with Disabilities.

This year's theme, 'United in action to rescue and achieve the SDGs for, with and by persons with disabilities' conveys the solidarity and accelerated efforts needed now in order to get many of the Sustainable Development Goals back on track for 2030 - especially those for persons with disabilities that are lagging even further behind.

Across Asia and the Pacfic, Water for Women partners are united in action for SDG 6 - safe water and sanitation for all - upon which all 17 goals of the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development rely.

Working in partnership with Organisations of Persons for and with Disabilities, rights holder groups, communities, sector stakeholders and governments, our partners are accelerating access to climate-resilient, gender equitable and disability inclusive WASH services for all.

With a core focus on systems strengthening and commitment to leave no one behind, partners are also helping to build resiience within the networks and infrastructure that underpin these services. 

Together, we have reached more than 3.4 million people in 16 countries so far, including almost 70,000 people living with disabilities and more than 1.7 million women and girls.

Inclusive communities are resilient communites.



*Project targets are based on partner Civil Society Organisations (CSO) project baseline studies. Project targets are updated periodically in response to changes in context as appropriate.


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