Africa WASH and Disabilities Study

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World Vision WASH Agent participating in a disability simulation.

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The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that persons with disabilities make up approximately 15% of the population in most developing nations. About 5% of these populations have limiting physical disabilities resulting in reduced mobility (notably transport or walking aid users and the visually impaired). Often little attention has been given to the needs of persons with disabilities in the community when implementing new structures such as wells, hand pumps, and domestic tools. World Vision Mali's (WVM) engagement with the West African Water Initiative (WAWI) began in 2003, while WAWI was in the process of drilling and placing some 200 boreholes, hand pumps and associated structures among WVM Area Development Program communities. To date, the WAWI-Mali Rural Water Project (MRWP) program is actively achieving its objectives relative to these goals. However, given increased dialogue among WAWI partners with regards to the needs of persons with disabilities and in the interest of exploring enhanced access and use of these facilities in served communities of Mali, WVM invited Messiah College in 2005 to join WVM in conducting an initial in-country assessment of existing conditions. Messiah's Mali and Water Disabilities Study, in partnership with World Vision Mali and with the assistance of a grant from the Conrad Hilton Foundation, seeks to accomplish this goal and improve access to WAWI facilities for persons with disabilities.

In 2011, a phase two grant of the water and disability project was approved by World Vision with the assistance of a grant from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation. For the 2011-2014 period, Messiah College will continue WASH-related disability work in Mali and expand to Niger and Ghana. During this second phase, Messiah will conduct multiple training workshops in each country for World Vision staff. Additionally, Messiah will continue to develop and roll-out low-cost technologies for persons with disabilities using WASH facilities.

Purpose statement

  1. To conduct an assessment of the limitations and opportunities for access and use of water and sanitation facilities by persons with disabilities and elderly persons in communities served by World Vision and WAWI initiatives in Mali, Niger and Ghana.
  2. To identify and/or develop simple, low-cost hardware and software alternatives to eliminate or reduce identified constraints.
  3. To provide guidelines and recommendations to World Vision Mali, Niger and Ghana as well as WAWI and additional NGOs to assure effective access and use of potable water and sanitation facilities by persons with disabilities.


  • Spring 2007
  1. Provide input into the disabilities survey to be conducted in the Tominian and San regions in Mali
  2. Review survey drafted by WVM and provide feedback
  3. Program completed survey into SPSS format to prepare for data input by WVM
  4. Assist WVM in presenting survey results during June, 2007 trip
  5. Review information gathered from the J07 trip to Mali
  6. Research already available technologies to aid people with disabilities
  7. Brainstorm possible technologies to assist in each of the three sub team areas
  • 2007-2008
  1. To translate the two survey results documents provided by World Vision Mali from French to English by the end of September 2007.
  2. To read and understand the documents, including synthesis of information and knowledge of the needs and situation of the population, by October 2007.
  3. To recruit the help of other departments, primarily statistics majors, in order to obtain a summary of the numerical research and an evaluation of the most prevalent concerns of the population, by October 2007.
  4. To use the above information to develop 3-4 research priorities for each sub team, before the end of October 2007.
  5. To obtain and construct the pump being shipped from Mali in order to have a full-scale model of the set-up to be modified, within one month of its arrival.
  6. To design and implement an adjustable resistance mechanism for within the pump, to recreate the effects of varying water-tables.
  7. To research and organize the construction of the surrounding pump area, including drainage, concrete base, and walls.
  8. To conduct background research for all research priorities from October 2007 to November 2007.
  9. To give a formal presentation from each sub-team of background research conducted for at least two research priority solutions by December 2007.
  10. To have working prototypes of at least two research priority solutions from each sub-team by May 2008.
  11. To plan and raise support for the January 2008 site visit.
  • 2008-2009
  1. To compile documentation and measurements of pump superstructure, handle redesign, bucket tipper, and latrine seat by May 2009.
  2. To create a video outlining the project that can be used in marketing forums by May 2009.
  3. To have finalized designs from each sub-team of their individual projects by May 2009.
  4. To have the statistics data compiled and published by May 2009.
  5. To research the likelihood of and interest in a Phase II of the Mali Water and Disabilities Study project by May 2009.
  6. To organize all existing documents associated with the project by May 2009.
  • 2009-2010
  1. To finish the final report by December 2009.
  2. To write a grant proposal no later than May 2010.
  3. To acquire a new adviser or two to help with our writing.
  4. To write employee requirements by May 2010.
  5. To connect with representatives from Joni Eareckson Tada's organization through the year and try to form a lasting partnership with them.
  • 2010-2011
  1. To find out if grant proposal is accepted and move on from there.
  2. To acquire a new adviser or two to help with our writing.
  3. Write employee requirements by October 2010
  4. Finalize and improve connections from Joni and Friends
  5. Create new workshop schedules and activities for different regions
  6. Create pamphlets, business plans, and tools for artisans
  • 2011-2012
  1. To find out if the revisions to the West Africa phase two grant are accepted.
  2. To find out it if the grant proposal for the expansion to East Africa is accepted.
  3. Prepare a professional disability training module to be used at World Vision workshops.
  4. Plan and raise support for the January 2012 site visit.
  5. Continue to connect with partner organizations Joni and Friends and Relief International.
  6. Finalize assistive technologies in Mali.
  7. Prepare for expansion to Niger beginning in spring 2012.
  • 2012-2013
  1. Increase project awareness with the development of a project-specific website.
  2. Create a video that summarizes Phase II objectives.
  3. Create final AutoCAD drawings of the technologies.
  4. Construct final prototypes of the assistive technologies.
  5. Prepare for the J-Term site team trip to Ghana and Niger.
  6. Prepare for the May/June site team trip to Ghana and Niger.
  7. Develop marketing strategies for both the private and public sectors for our assistive technologies.
  8. Prepare and administer technology evaluation surveys.
  9. Revise our strategy for conducting focus group and community group meetings in target communities.
  • 2013-2014
  1. Complete SolidWorks drawings of the Niger and Ghana modified pump superstructures and latrines.
  2. Compile quality standards documentation to guide the construction of modified pump superstructures and latrines.
  3. Document marketing strategies in place in each country. Based on existing marketing strategies, develop a plan that can be replicated in other countries.
  4. Analyze field research on WASH committees and the use of faith-based organizations in water provision.
  5. Complete a survey to document project outcomes and use it in the field.
  6. Present a finalized WASH & Disability national policy statement for World Vision-Ghana's WASH program (GI-WASH).
  7. Finalize AWDS project website.
  8. Complete an AWDS logo and print project T-shirts.
  9. Develop a short promotional video highlighting the second phase work.
  10. Work with the Collaboratory video team to complete a project documentary.
  11. Facilitate regular project updates through regular blog posts, facebook updates and bi-weekly newsletters.
  12. Continue to focus on regular fellowship events (i.e. at least one per month).
  13. Plan and conduct a J-Term trip to Ghana and Niger.
  14. Plan and conduct a Spring Break trip (location to be specified).
  15. Plan and conduct a Summer 2014 trip (location to be specified).


  • Proposal for project and approval conducted in S05
  • Team formed in F06 under the Water Purification Group
  • Water Transport, Pumps and Associated Structures, and Latrines and Domestic Water Use Subteams formed in F06
  • Trip to Mali for preliminary research and survey input in J07
  • Survey of people with disabilities in Tominian and San Regions conducted in S07
  • Trip to Mali in S07 to take part in survey results discussion conference
  • Mali Water and Disabilities Study is moved to the newly formed Disability Resources Group in F07
  • Trip to Mali in J08 to begin testing designs.
  • S08 Designs reassessed, prepared for S08 trip. The line of latrine seats began.
  • The S08 trip further tested designs and new implementations and began the line of metal baskets for jerry cans.
  • F08 consisted of working through time lapse photography from the previous trip and preparing new designs.
  • The J09 trip was one of our last opportunities to have a site team test our designs. A major oversight was found in the pump superstructure that is being addressed.
  • S09 Continued improving upon various designs and began working on final report.
  • Trip to Mali in S09 to wrap up current projects and acquire final data.
  • Spring 2011 Hire full-time project manager.
  • S11 Trip to Mali with the new project manager and representatives from Joni and Friends.
  • S11 WASH partnership workshop held at Messiah College with World Vision, Pure Home Water and the Desert Research Institute.
  • S11 Draft project expansion concept papers to be submitted to World Vision.
  • F11 Trip to Mali with International Relief consultant to begin the technology roll-out study.
  • J12 Trip to Mali to conduct two training sessions for World Vision WASH Agents.
  • S12 Reconnaissance trip to Niger was conducted. Two training sessions were conducted as part of this trip.
  • A F12 Trip to Ghana and Niger was completed. The project manager assessed progress made on project goals in the two countries visited.
  • A J13 Trip to Ghana and Niger was conducted as part of the Phase II expansion.
  • A S13 Trip to Ghana and Niger was completed.
  • A S13 Trip to Ethiopia was conducted by the project manager. The main purpose of this trip was to attend the annual meeting of World Vision's operational team whose main focus is on disability issues.
  • A S13 Trip to Nakuru, Kenya was performed by Dr. Lamarr Widmer. Dr. Widmer presented work from the AWDS at the 2013 WEDC (Water, Engineering and Development Center).



  • Dr. Ray Norman
  • Dr. Lamarr Widmer
  • Angela Hare
  • Evie Telfer

Project Manager

Current Members

Previous Team Members


  • Jones, Hazel and Bob Reed. Water and Sanitation for Disabled People and Other Vulnerable Groups: Designing Services for Improve Accessibility. Water, Engineering and Development Centre. Leicestershire, UK: Loughborough University, 2006.


  • This is the sampling methodology used by World Vision Mali in conducting the S07 survey.
Survey Household Sampling Methodology
  • This is the final survey that was programmed into SPSS and conducted on approximately 900 households in the Tominian and San Regions of Mali.
Final Survey Conducted in Mali During S07

Contact Information

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