Dysfunction throughout the water cycle is undermining progress on all major global issues, from health to hunger, gender equality to jobs, education to industry, disasters to peace. In 2015, the world committed to Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6 as part of the 2030 Agenda – the promise that everyone would have safely managed water and sanitation by 2030.    

Right now the world is off track to achieve water and sanitation for all by 2030 and people in humanitarian settings face some of the highest barriers to access safely managed water and sanitation. This is also the case in Northern Mozambique, where currently over 1 million people have been displaced due to conflict. Many of them struggle to access basic services and facilities in already overstretched host community or displacement sites. One of those people is Amina. 

A few years ago, Amina had to flee her hometown when it became unsafe to stay due to insecurity: “Having to leave our home and belongings behind was very painful.” Together with her husband Abilio and their eight children, they tried to cope with the displacement situation. But a little while after she started to notice her health deteriorating: “One morning, a sharp pain shot up from my toes to my hips, and then my legs gave way. I was unable to walk", Amina recalls. The pain and inability to walk independently stayed, and she had to rely on her husband and children for all her daily tasks. Being in a displacement setting did not make things easier, as facilities were often already overstretched and poorly suited for special needs, including Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) services. 

In 2021, Amina and her family were relocated to Nicavaco Displacement Site, in Metuge district. Though a roof over their heads and a safe place for the family to stay made a big difference, even some of the simplest tasks still involved a great effort and dependence for Amina due to her physical disability. One of the main issues was the lack of accessible sanitation, which not only meant depending on other people and little privacy, but also a risk to her health, since poor sanitation and hygiene practices pose a higher risk of water-related diseases. 

IOM works in displacement sites in Northern Mozambique to deliver inclusive, durable and appropriate WASH services and identified Amina's needs. She was provided with a latrine adapted to her needs. It is made easily accessible through tailoring the dimensions and height of the latrine and bathing area to her needs, and installing handlebars so she can independently make use of it, during the construction her feedback was essential to ensure the design was comfortable and useful for Amina. 

The latrines are constructed using local, sustainable materials available to the community. © IOM 2023/Maria TORO

Being away from home is still not easy for Amina and her family, but having an adapted latrine has given her some measure of independence and dignity. She no longer had to rely on her husband Abilio, or anyone else to help her with basic needs like using the bathroom. It may seem like a small thing, but to Amina, it meant the world: “My daily life is now much easier, my dependence on others is reduced and that has improved my self-esteem a lot,” she says. She is also aware that she is taking care of her health: “Before, we were much more exposed to diseases because we didn't have a proper latrine. Now we take care of it and clean it; we are safer.” 

As time goes by, Amina's strength and resilience continue to shine through. She knows that life would never be the same as it was before the displacement, but she is grateful to be able to live with dignity and hope for a better future.

“Step by step and together with my family, we are being able to rebuild our lives.”

During 2022, IOM has supported over 1,350 people, including Persons with disabilities and their families, to access to water and sanitation services. © IOM 2023/Maria TORO

Providing access to WASH upholds the health, dignity, and overall wellbeing of communities. Persons with disabilities face additional barriers to access to WASH services in situations of risk and humanitarian emergencies such as conflict, displacement, and disasters. With the support of USAID’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance (BHA), IOM supports displaced and host-communities - in particular those in situations of vulnerability - by addressing their WASH needs in emergency situations and supporting long-term preparedness and resilience. 

SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities
SDG 6 - Clean Water and Sanitation