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Our new focus area on Disability and Older Age Inclusion, funded by the UK Department for International Development (DFID), will explore the barriers to and support opportunities for the inclusion of older people and people with disabilities in humanitarian response.

This Challenge is focused on understanding the barriers faced by older people and people with disabilities when it comes to accessing and meaningfully participating in Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) humanitarian programming.

The Problem

People with disabilities and older people can face a range of barriers when it comes to inclusion in humanitarian WASH programming. These can include physical barriers (such as the presence of stairs and the absence of a ramp or an elevator) and communication barriers (such as only one format being used to provide information), attitudinal barriers (such as negative perceptions of older people or people with disabilities) and institutional barriers (such as policies that can lead to discrimination against certain groups).

A Rapid Review of disability and older age inclusion in WASH, commissioned by us, found evidence of more WASH programmes that address physical barriers to inclusion, and a significant gap regarding organisational, attitudinal and communication barriers. Additionally, of the interventions reviewed, more focused on the inclusion of people with disabilities, compared to the inclusion of older people.

Pesto Laso, a 40-year-old father of five who has a visual impairment, standing in front of a user-centred design latrine. Photo Credit: Achikule Ali / Welthungerhilfe.

While there are standards and guidance for what inclusive WASH programming should look like (see Challenge Handbook for examples), these are not being implemented in practice. The reasons for their limited uptake are not clear, but are likely to include a limited awareness or access to such guidance, a lack of incentives for uptake, or the guidance may simply be incomplete or inappropriate for some contexts.

The aim of this Challenge is to build on existing evidence and insights to further understand the barriers to inclusion that people with disabilities and older people face in WASH humanitarian programming, so that more effective and inclusive WASH programmes can be developed.

La Piste resettlement site, Haiti, November 2011. 368 shelters where build in this camp. Most of the beneficiaries have hearing and speech impairments and, in some cases, physical disabilities. IFRC Haiti provides water and sanitation services to the residents. Photo Credit: Haitian National Red Cross Society (HRC) / IFRC Haiti.

The Challenge

We’re looking to understand the barriers to inclusion faced by people with disabilities and older people in WASH humanitarian programming: including needs assessments, programme design, implementation, and monitoring and evaluation.

Projects will be at the Problem Recognition stage of humanitarian innovation and will aim to provide a comprehensive and developed understanding of the barriers to inclusion faced by older people and people with disabilities in a specific humanitarian context.

Get the full details in the Challenge Handbook

For further information about the Challenge, criteria for solutions, expected deliverables and application timelines, as well as a glossary of key terms, please read the Challenge Handbook.

Read now


How do I apply?

To apply for the Challenge, fill out the Expression of Interest (EOI) via our Common Grants Application platform.

Already have an account? Login to start an application.

Don’t have an account? Sign up to open an account and start an application.

Why focus on older people and people with disabilities?

Humanitarian principles require that humanitarian assistance and protection are provided on the basis of need, without discrimination. However, older people and people with disabilities can face discrimination and multiple barriers to accessing humanitarian assistance; including cultural, physical and legal/policy barriers. Simultaneously, the capacities and rights of people with disabilities and older people are often overlooked.

Older people and people with disabilities are diverse and have diverse lived experiences. However, older age and disability intersect with each other; and we believe that this intersection and potential commonalities in barriers faced warrant further exploration and presents significant potential to improve inclusion outcomes for a diverse range of people.

Whilst disability and older age is the predominant focus of this work, we recognise that disability and older age also intersect with other identity characteristics, such as gender, race, colour, ethnicity, sexual orientation, language, religion, health status, political or other opinion, national or social origin. This intersection can lead to compounding and distinct forms of discrimination that must be recognised in order to fully understand and address barriers to inclusion. For example, in particular, for the area of gender-based violence in emergencies, women and girls are especially at risk of violence, abuse and exploitation (UNFPA, 2015).

Please see further background and information on this focus area within the Challenge Handbook.

What is the total funding for the Challenge?

We have a total budget of £150,000 available for this Challenge. From this, we envisage funding a selection of projects with varying budgets; ideally in the range of £30,000 to £70,000 per project. The projects will run for between 12 and 18 months and the total duration should cover both implementation and dissemination.

The proposed budgets and timelines should align with the level of ambition of each individual project within the Challenge parameters. Each solution will be assessed on its own merit and potential for impact: this means that both smaller and larger projects will be on equal footing when being evaluated.

Please note that the grant amount requested at EOI stage can be indicative. Detailed budget plans will be requested at the full proposal stage.

What are the timelines?

The Challenge launches on 23 May 2019. The deadline for expressions of interest (EOIs) is 23 June 2019 (23:59 BST). Apply via the Common Grants Application platform.

For further information about the application process and timelines, see Challenge Handbook.

Who can apply?

We welcome applications from any legally registered entity (eg, INGO, NGO, UN, academic, private company). Successful applicants must work in partnership with a humanitarian actor. Wherever it is possible, applicants should develop meaningful partnerships with local organisations to support implementation; in particular, with local humanitarian actors and civil society groups (organisations of people with disabilities (OPDs) and older people’s associations (OPAs) ). Any partnerships can be indicative at the Expression of Interest (EOI) stage but must be formalised when your full application is submitted if your proposal is shortlisted.

For further information about requirements and success criteria, see Challenge Handbook.

Are you able to facilitate collaborations?

Where possible, we will support applicants search for partners, but we are not able to commit to securing partners for applicants. If you have a particular type of partner in mind, get in touch with us and we will see how we can help.

Still have questions?

We’re here to help. For any questions that are not covered by the Challenge Handbook or FAQ section, please email us at, referencing ‘DOAI GBV Challenge’ in the subject line.

Helpful Tools & Research

Report COVID-19, Inclusion of People with Disabilities and Older People, Water, sanitation & hygiene

Rapid review of disability and older age inclusion in WASH

Tool Innovation Management

Humanitarian Innovation Guide

Tool COVID-19, Water, sanitation & hygiene

WASH Innovation Catalogue

Report Water, sanitation & hygiene

Gap Analysis in Emergency Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Promotion

Related projects we fund

Discover more funding

Take a look at our other Disability & Older Age Inclusion Innovation Challenge: Understanding the barriers to inclusion faced by people with disabilities and older people in GBV humanitarian programming.

Read more

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