Invisible, marginalised and discriminated against and living in extreme poverty, homelessness affects high- and low-income countries around the world, in predominantly urban settings. People living on the streets are a socially diverse group including children, those with physical and mental disabilities, men and women of all ages – all with differing underlying vulnerabilities.
Yet homeless people’s rights to S&H, and their varying S&H needs are rarely considered in programming, which largely focuses on people with some form of permanent residence, however informal it may be.
With no home, access to facilities becomes precarious. How you wash yourself, where you go to the toilet, and how you wash and dry your clothes and menstrual cloths are immediate, constant daily challenges. Public latrines are often inappropriate, inaccessible, or unaffordable for daily and regular use, and often closed early morning or late night.
Using public latrines can also be dangerous, particularly for women and girls. Urgent action is needed to understand their lived experiences, and work across sectors towards developing realistic, integrated strategies to provide S&H services and adequate shelter to serve this excluded group.