Inclusive approach to public toilet design

Front cover of the report showing a young woman holding up a floor plan drawing of a toilet.Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) is a basic human right for everyone. And there are both technical and social dimensions to consider. The Australian Government funded a four year project in Eastern Indonesia to improve the lives of women and people with disability by focusing on improving access to public toilets. The project report outlines the issues, the context and how the researchers developed an inclusive participatory action research (PAR) approach. 

There is significant learning from this project, particularly about their inclusive PAR method. It shows how the method can be applied to any marginalised group. The learning as it applies to women and people with disability are listed and include: attentive listening, accommodating differences in language, meaning and ability, building on individual differences, and encouraging creative expression and being flexible.

The recommendations include being open about the risks, challenges and failures of a PAR project; moving towards more transformative ways of working with marginalised people, and engaging in inclusive dialogue about concerns and contextual issues with all stakeholders.

When it comes to public infrastructure, the humble toilet is essential. No matter where you live in the world, they are essential for getting out and about. For many, toilets make or break any activity outside the home – they are the deciding factor about where to go and how long to stay out.

The title of the report is, Participatory Action Research (PAR) In Practice – WASH for Women and People with Disabilities

Project partners included Plan International Australia, Water for Women, and Edge Effect.