Laetem Dak Kona: gender-equitable and disability-accessible WASH in Vanuatu

Water for Women partners with World Vision Australia in the delivery of Laetem Dak Kona: gender-equitable and disability-accessible wash in Vanuatu to reach people in Sanma and Torba Provinces.


With a population of approximately 280,000, Vanuatu stretches across 1,300km of the South Pacific Ocean with over 80 individual islands. Vanuatu lies to the east of Australia, northeast of New Caledonia and west of Fiji.

Women in Vanuatu play an active role in family life however, they face serious inequalities when it comes to decision-making and in social, cultural, economic and political spheres of life. This is also the case for social minorities such as women with disabilities.

Vanuatu is a highly traditional society, with customary beliefs, practices, values and structures (including traditional governance) dominating community life.  There are limits to women’s participation in decision-making at all levels, which results in policies and practices that do not account for their particular needs and priorities, and result in inequities. The high risk of gender-based violence underpins day-to-day life. 

People with disabilities are believed to comprise between 5% and 12% of Vanuatu’s population, and are more disadvantaged than other sections of the population:

People with disabilities are far less likely to have attended primary school than those without disabilities,

People with disabilities are far more likely to be in the lowest and next-to-lowest household wealth quintile.


Commonly reported barriers to participation include stigma, accessibility of the built environment, accessible information, literacy and numeracy, transport, and lack of specific disability support services such as sign language and assistive technology including mobility devices. 




Water for Women will be partnering with World Vision Australia in delivering Laetem Dak Kona: gender-equitable and disability-accessible WASH in Vanuatu to address these issues. 

Laetem Dak Kona (LDK) will be implemented on the ground by World Vision Vanuatu with and through its key partners in two northern provinces of Vanuatu, Sanma and Torba. 

Regional map of Vanuatu

Gender-equity and social inclusion are the focus of Laetem Dak Kona.  

  • People with disabilities, especially women, will be project staff, lead advocates in communities, and core implementing partners. 
  • They will cast “light into dark corners”(the meaning of Laetem Dak Kona) and lead similar groups to raise their own expectations, voice, and agency for removal of WASH barriers. 
  • At the policy level, the project will focus on developing a better evidence base on the situation of people, especially women, with disabilities and their caregivers, the barriers that they face in accessing services and opportunities, and interacting with formal/informal decision-making institutions.  

This project’s foundation builds on the understanding that shifting power is essential to achieving inclusion at all levels. 

Group of people with disabilities performing on a stage to raise awareness in Vanuatu

The Wan Smolbag Rainbow Disability Theatre group performing to raise awareness on the rights of people with disabilities.

World Vision Vanuatu


This project aims to achieve improved health and wellbeing for women with and without disabilities in Sanma and Torba provinces through access to gender-equitable and disability-inclusive WASH systems.  

In order to achieve this goal, LDK seeks the following outcomes: 

Outcome 1: Women with and without disabilities are actively participating in community life & governance

  • Women with disabilities and their caregivers demanding inclusion at participating more at household, community and national level.
  • Women with disabilities and their caregivers valuing and accessing inclusive WASH services, safe facilities and devices.
  • Women and people with disabilities knowing and actioning their rights to decision-making and equitable participation in society.
  • All women in Sanma and Torba provinces accessing dignified, appropriate menstrual hygiene and continence management products.
  • The people of Sanma and Torba provinces, with women with disabilities as lead advocates, holding their provincial governments accountable for delivery of these services. 

Outcome 2: Government at national level committed to develop inclusive WASH policies and standards at Torba and Sanma provincial level creating inclusive WASH facilities

  • Sanma and Torba provincial governments knowing who is living where with what disability. 
  • Government at all levels valuing this information enough to use it to plan/budget for inclusive WASH services.
  • Key provincial government offices listening to the voices of people with disabilities and women by modelling accessible WASH infrastructure within their own offices. 

Outcome 3: Community, provincial, national & international stakeholders are using new knowledge & effective practices identified & developed within the project

  • New knowledge, evidence, and effective practices generated by the project are being recognised, accessed and used by many different stakeholders, including evidence on the WASH situation of people with disabilities and innovative infrastructural approaches. 

Outcome 4: World Vision Vanuatu adopts a “stik faea” approach, becoming catalysts for change and modelling gender-equitable and disability inclusiveness at all levels

  • WVV staff have a personal conviction that women and people with disabilities have the right to inclusion.
  • WVV models best practice gender-equity and disability inclusion practices through its policies, offices and staff.
  • WVV are viewed by project partners as supportive and assisting them to achieve their organisational objectives.  Partners feel like they are equals with WVV during project implementation. 



 A water and WASH response is a COVID-19 response


In 2020, the importance of water, sanitation and hygiene was underscored as the globe grappled with the COVID-19 pandemic. With support from Australia's Partnerships for Recovery, our partners pivoted their projects and worked collaboratively to support countries in their COVID-19 responses and to embed COVID-19 preparedness into their WASH projects.

In Vanuatu, World Vision worked with local partners including national and provincial government, the Vanuatu Disability Promotion & Advocacy Association (VDPA) and the Vanuatu Society for People with a Disability (VSPD) to focus on disability inclusion in Vanuatu's WASH response to benefit an estimated 21,000 people.

The initiative:

(i) prioritised the voices and needs of people with disabilities in COVID-19 WASH preparation; and

(ii) informed the Department of Water Resources COVID-19 response with practical and sustainable measures for disability inclusion using evidence and practices from the Laetem Dak Kona project.

The central activity was a disability inclusion advocacy COVID-19 WASH campaign, which aimed to foster attitudinal and behaviour change and create momentum to encourage disability inclusion in the Government COVID-19 (and disaster) response and preparedness.

Australia continues to support COVID-19 preparedness, response and recovery activities across the Indo-Pacific region to secure our region's health, wellbeing and stability in these challenging times.

An unprecedented crisis requires a coordinated response. Through our water resources management and water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) projects, we are not only delivering safe, equitable and sustainable water and WASH, we are also building healthy, inclusive and resilient societies. We're supporting individuals, communities and countries to endure, and recover from, the COVID-19 crisis as well as build resilience to future extreme events and natural disasters. 




water for women logo

World Vision logo

*Project targets are based on partner Civil Society Organisations (CSO) baseline studies. Project targets are updated periodically in response to changes in context as appropriate. To see our latest progress towards targets, see our progress.

Header photo: Young girl washing her hands using a bamboo Tippy Tap.
World Vision Vanuatu, 2018

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