People with disabilities are the most vulnerable to poor hygiene, lack of relevant sanitary equipment, access to clean water, and lack of support by the community to improve their hygiene, Jean Damascene Harerimana, the Kayonza District vice mayor in charge of social affairs said. Harerimana urged the community in Kayonza District to embrace and enhance partnerships to ensure that people with disabilities get proper sanitation facilities since lack of sanitation facilities and poor hygiene practices can lead to serious infectious diseases and death that could otherwise be prevented. READ ALSO: Five challenges that people with disabilities need addressed “We are partnering with different organisations to increase the availability of sanitary products and services needed to improve the welfare for people with disabilities,” Habyarimana said. Theophil Gakuru, a people with disabilities representative in Kabarondo sector, said it is important to put the spotlight on the plight of people with disabilities, depending on the background of one’s disability, as they face many challenges. “Take an example of the communities around people with disabilities; it is very difficult to find a home with a latrine that was constructed with a disabled visitor in mind. So, when disabled visitors need to excuse themselves, it is a challenge. The community should support us in emphasising hygiene efforts as we are most prone to this,” said Gakuru. In Kayonza, to allay the affordability issue, microfinance institutions will create low-cost sanitation loan products available to members of the village savings and loan associations. District Sanitation Centers are connected to retailers of sanitation products, while Isoko y’Ubuzima, a USAID project, facilitates negotiations for delivery at a discount. The saniation centers access the capital from microfinance institutions. Besides this, four showrooms were set up in Murundi, Mukarange, Kabare, and Rukara sectors to bring sanitation services closer to the community, mainly putting emphasis on people with disabilities. With such efforts, Valerie Uwimpaye, a disabled mother of three in Nyamirama sector, believes bringing such sanitary services and products closer to people who need them most will boost the sanitation and hygiene of people with disabilities. “We also need a store where we can buy sanitary products that deal with our disabilities. Imagine a disabled person squatting to use the [pit] latrine! That does not guarantee required hygiene, but if we get such products which are affordable, and nearer, I believe many people with disabilities will be happy,” she said. According to the 2021 Ministry of Infrastructure WASH Management Information System Report, an average 24.3 per cent of households access hygiene services. Kayonza District stands at 52 per cent in sanitation and at 28 per cent in hygiene. In October, the Rwanda Governance Board (RGB) recommended fast-tracking the categorization of people with disabilities to increase their access to essential services such as health, and education, among others. People with disabilities have to be classified into different categories depending on the nature of their disabilities so as to best help them get assistance tailored to suit their needs.