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T.1 Accessibility and Safety Audit

An Accessibility and Safety Audit is carried out on-site through a small group discussion about safety and access to identify problems and make design improvements. Discussions held at the location where people collect water or go to the toilet can be more practical and effective than relying on recall.

Issues are explored by walking around the water or sanitation site and engaging people in discussion about how they use it and how it might be improved. Discussion points include ‘can people with mobility problems access the facilities comfortably? Does it offer enough privacy? Do people feel safe using it during the day and night? Is there enough space for carers to take children to the toilet? Are the handwashing facilities accessible and easy to use? What solutions can be suggested for the current problems?’ The audit can be carried out in different ways, with different groups and at different WASH sites. It takes between 10 minutes and one hour. Checklists T.2 can help ensure that all the key issues are covered and can be filled in by a facilitator or participants. It is preferable to work with small groups who are comfortable with each other, but it is possible to work with only one or two people who happen to be at the site at the time of the visit. Women or men-only groups (including the facilitator) might elicit more open responses. Adolescent girls may prefer to try it on their own and give feedback to a facilitator or teacher they know. For shared facilities it can be useful to share the results with other similar groups to reach a consensus. For households, changes can be initiated by members of the household if they have the resources.


It can be used in all phases of the emergency and in most contexts with WASH facilities. It can also be used in areas where people go to defecate. To draw out people’s suggestions and get the best from the tool, people will need to feel comfortable with each other and with the facilitator.


  • Where possible, involve WASH engineers and all those constructing the facilities

  • Compile a Checklist [T.2] to remind and guide facilitators. Train facilitators by repeating the exercise several times

  • Include people with a variety of disabilities

  • Explain why some suggestions for improvements might not be possible or realistic and encourage practical suggestions


  • Do not work with larger groups (five to eight people maximum)

  • Do not raise people’s expectations for changes that are not feasible

Practical Example

The Women’s Refugee Commission completed a research mission to the Jijiga Somali refugee camps in Ethiopia to listen to Somali refugees and learn what measures would enable refugee adolescent girls to safely become resilient, self-reliant and leaders in their families and communities. Among other approaches, they used Safety Audits to understand the situation. The young Somali women said they feared harassment and attack by, ‘hyenas, lions snakes…and men’, particularly when collecting water and firewood. Amongst various recommendations they identified the importance of locating water points closer to girls’ housing (not only at male-dominated areas such as mosques and sports fields) and sturdy doors and locks for latrines.

Key Decision Critria

Response Phase
Acute Response
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Protracted Crisis
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HP Component
Preconditions and Enabling Environment
Community Engagement and Participation
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Assessment, Analysis and Planning
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Social and Behaviour Change
Monitoring, Evaluation, Accountability and Learning (MEAL)
Target Group
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Older People
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Persons with Disabilities
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Local Leaders
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Society as a whole
Application Level
Individual / Household
Community / Municipality
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In-depth information and checklists on accessibility and safety audits

WEDC, WaterAid (2013): Accessibility and Safety Audit of Water and Sanitation Facilities. Facilitators Notes

WEDC, WaterAid (2013): Accessibility and Safety Audit. Latrine Checklist

Ideas for designing WASH facilities for people with disabilities

Jones, H., Reed, R. (2005): Water and Sanitation for Disabled People and other Vulnerable Groups: Designing Services to Improve Accessibility, WEDC, Loughborough University

Case study from Ethiopia

WRC (2012): In Search of Safety and Solutions: Somali Refugee Adolescent Girls at Sheder and Aw Barre Camps, Ethiopia