The World Bank in collaboration with the National Reconstruction Authority (NRA) has been developing a training manual for masons on “Making Homes Accessible to All”. The objective of the manual is to introduce the concept of accessibility to masons with the aim of building back better by keeping into consideration different needs of persons with disabilities/persons with functional limitations in reconstruction of houses.
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability (2007) defines disability as “an evolving concept that results from the interaction between persons with impairments and attitudinal and environmental barriers that hinders their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others”. The training intends to facilitate the persons with disabilities to overcome environmental barriers by promoting homes that are accessible to all.
The aim is to build back better by ensuring the reconstructed houses are not only multi-hazard resistant, but also inclusive for all. The training will enable masons to assess specific needs of persons with disabilities/persons with functional limitations and incorporate accessibility elements in the houses so that they can perform their daily functions independently.
The manual starts with the definitions of “persons with disabilities” and “persons with functional limitations” and moves towards concept of accessibility. By presenting barriers that persons with disabilities/persons with functional limitations encounter in the course of performing simplest of daily functions, the manual delves into how a simple structural/non-structural solution can assist them in overcoming those barriers. Some practical solutions have been presented keeping in view the contextual realities of rural areas of Nepal and availability of construction materials, with the aim of promoting local practices and indigenous knowledge.
Accessibility is beyond ramps
Pilot Training of Trainers (ToT) was delivered to the focal engineers of NRA from January 5-6, 2020. Thirty-six engineers from 14 severely affected districts, including 16 women, attended the ToT. By and large, the training was well received by the engineers. It was instrumental in changing the mindset of the trainee engineers as they had a limited understanding of disability/functional limitations and accessibility.
The training was also able to clarify some myths and misconceptions associated with building accessible homes such as “building accessible home is costly and too-technical”, “there are standard solutions” and “accessibility is useful only for persons with disabilities” among others. Most importantly, the training has been able to instill the understanding that accessibility is beyond ramp and accessibility helps people with functional limitations, elderly and pregnant women in addition to persons with disabilities in performing daily functions more independently.
While manual will guide the trainers, a mason handbook, which is also being developed, will guide the masons. The mason handbook is prepared with simple masonry language and pictorial depictions. The handbook starts with a checklist for needs assessment, which is expected to guide the masons in understanding need of the clientele they serve and plan accessibility elements accordingly in the design of the house, in coordination with the user himself/herself.
The project aims to build the capacity of masons in assessing the needs of the household members they serve and help build accessible homes by incorporating the structural and non-structural adjustment that suits the local context.
In this mission, Social Mobilizers will play a vital role of convincing households having family member with disability to build accessible homes. Therefore, Social Mobilizers, who are an integral part of the NRA’s socio-technical assistance, are provided training on basic understanding of “disability” and “accessibility”.
With regards to mobile masons, hands-on training is being planned, wherein masons will participate in the retrofitting/reconstruction of houses belonging to vulnerable beneficiaries with disabilities. Hope is that the trained masons will continue using their skillset beyond reconstruction thus contributing to build an inclusive and just society.