Are the rights of people with disabilities included in international guidance on WASH during the COVID-19 pandemic? Content analysis using EquiFrame

  • Authors: Scherer N Mactaggart I Huggett C Pheng P Rahman MU Wilbur J.
  • Category: People with Disability


Purpose People with disabilities are at increased risk from COVID-19. Access to water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services and facilities is a fundamental right for all, and is vital in stopping the transmission of COVID-19. However, people with disabilities often face difficulties accessing WASH. Various international organisations have published guidance and recommendations on WASH service provision during the COVID-19 pandemic, and this must include information of relevance to people with disabilities. This study aimed to investigate the inclusion of core concepts of rights for people with disabilities in guidance on WASH during the COVID-19 pandemic. Method We used the EquiFrame content analysis tool to analyse the inclusion of 21 core concepts of rights for people with disabilities in international guidance documents on WASH during the pandemic. 29 documents were included from multilateral entities, international consortiums and non-governmental organisations. Key information from the included guidance documents was extracted for each of the 21 core concepts. Results One-third of the WASH guidance did not include any reference to the rights of people with disabilities, and the majority of information was provided by just one guidance document. Most commonly referenced across all was access to WASH, including details on accessible infrastructure (eg, handwashing stations) and communication strategies. Information on many important rights and considerations, such as the affordability of services and caregiver support, was rarely included. Conclusion Although some information is provided in international WASH guidance, this often has a narrow focus on access, rather than the full array of rights and considerations that are important for people with disabilities. International guidance should continue to be reviewed and updated to include further information of relevance to people with disabilities, informing a disability-inclusive approach to WASH during the remainder of the COVID-19 pandemic and future crises.