01 EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
WATER SANITATION AND HYGIENE (WASH)
Safely managed drinking water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) are essential to human health and well-being.
Access to WASH contributes to good health and the prevention of disease, enables participation in other areas of life such as livelihoods, school and training and has social and economic impacts on individuals, as well as communities and nations.
WASH is a gendered issue, with women often bearing the socially prescribed responsibility for household water provision and providing WASH-related care to family members who require it. Women and girls have additional WASH requirements related to menstrual hygiene management, and may be more at risk of incontinence.
Incontinence can be classified as faecal, urine, or both. Urinary incontinence is defined as the involuntary loss of urine that is objectively demonstrable, and is a social or hygienic problem. Faecal, or bowel, incontinence is an inability to control bowel movements, resulting in the involuntary passage of stools.
Incontinence is a complex health and social issue that is largely taboo and widely overlooked. It is estimated that incontinence affects 1 in 4 women over the age of 35 years, and 1 in 10 adult men. These figures are mostly from high-income settings and it is likely may be higher in Low and Middle Income Countries, although evidence is lacking. Incontinence affects a wide variety of people, particularly older people, mothers, children and persons with disabilities. Incontinence also leads to additional WASH requirements, in part due to increased need to bathe and use the latrine, and can be extremely stigmatising – particularly when these WASH requirements cannot be met.