Inadequate access to water and sanitation facilities undermines participation in sports

Athletes use a tapstand at San Remo to cool down between matches.


Following research conducted during the PNG Games in Kimbe, November 2017, WaterAid has found that inadequate access to WASH facilities at sports venues in PNG is likely undermining participation in sports. The research also identified a range of constraints including limited access to clean toilets; ongoing water shortages; limited availability of soap for handwashing; an absence of facilities for women and adolescent girls to manage menstruation; and lack of accessible facilities for use by people with disabilities.

The findings will be launched at an event on February 8, and will inform the PNG Sports Foundation’s current review of the national sports policy. The research project was supported by the Australian Government through the Papua New Guinea–Australia Partnership.

The research involved an assessment of the facilities provided at sports venues in Kimbe during the 2017 PNG Games.  It also included over 40 interviews with spectators, officials and cleaners as well as focus group discussions with female athletes and athletes with disabilities, to explore experiences with accessing safe drinking water, clean toilets and handwashing facilities at sports venues in PNG.

WaterAid’s research also highlighted a shared demand amongst athletes, officials and spectators for WASH facilities at PNG sports venues. This was strongly expressed by female athletes and athletes with disabilities, who have specific needs that must be addressed to facilitate their participation in sport.

Women reported that they may not participate in sport if they feel unsafe when going to the toilet, or if they believe that they will be unable to manage their personal hygiene when playing sport. Athletes and spectators with a disabilities raised concerns regarding dignity and barriers to participation, calling for toilets and showers at venues designed to accommodate their needs.

Lack of adequate, accessible and inclusive WASH facilities at sporting venues is undermining both participation in, and attendance at, sporting events, denying people the health and social benefits of sport. Women and people with disabilities are particularly impacted. In order to remove these barriers, WaterAid recommends that the PNG Sports Foundation should develop a set of minimum standards, and accompanying guidance, to set WASH facility requirements for sports venues.