Inclusive research: working with organisations of persons with disabilities in WASH research

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Conducting research was an unfamiliar experience for most members of the Working Group of Organisation of Persons with Disabilities in Palu Sigi Donggala (Pokja OPDs Pasigala). Through the 'Investing in Inclusive WASH' research project supported by Elrha's Humanitarian Innovation Fund (HIF), they have been introduced to research activities. Twenty-five members of Pokja OPDs Pasigala have taken part in the preparatory stage of data collection activities.

This project aims to explore the underlying factors that hinder inclusion in humanitarian activities, particularly in the provision of WASH (water, sanitation, and hygiene) services. It is being collaboratively conducted by ASB, Pokja OPDs Pasigala, and Gadjah Mada University. The research is being conducted in 20 villages in the Sigi and Donggala District of Central Sulawesi Province. This project is funded by the HIF and the United Kingdom Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO). More information about this project is available here

From May to June 2020, a series of 10 online trainings on various themes related to the introduction and basic principles of research were conducted. A dedicated session on how to ethically interact and engage with persons with disabilities in research setting has also been carried out. Earlier in July, members of Pokja OPDs Pasigala performed data collection trials, this activity not only prepared members but also ensured the usability of the data collection tools.

The trials were undertaken in nine villages, involving six persons with disabilities and six older persons as respondents. Through this initial process, members of Pokja OPDs Pasigala have already acquired important information and skills. Arta, a member of Pokja OPDs Pasigala, was worried about how to communicate with a Deaf respondent who is not familiar with Sign Language. But when she actually had to interview a Deaf respondent without Sign Language, she came up with a practical solution to use written messages, and her communication with the respondent went smoothly. Similarly to Arta, other Pokja OPDs Pasigala also faced some challenges when conducting the trials. Kusmiran who has mobility limitations had to deal with inaccessible environment, she even had to climb a gate when she visited a respondent in Kaleke Village.

Despite the challenges that they had faced during the initial process of the research, members of Pokja OPDis Pasigala showed great enthusiasm during their involvement in the training and trial activities. They also provided helpful inputs to ASB and the Gadjah Mada University research team in improving and adjusting the tools, methods, and approach. This has helped to make the research more relevant to the context and impactful for future WASH provisions. Pokja OPDis Pasigala will also be utilizing the results and findings of this research, and lead an advocacy effort to foster the inclusive provision of WASH services, particularly in humanitarian response setting.

Written by Rizma Kristiana, ASB