The hardest hit


  • Living
  • Wednesday, 02 Apr 2014

Vulnerable groups like the disabled and the elderly are badly affected by the ongoing water rationing exercise in Selangor.

THE water cuts introduced in Selangor last month have caused inconvenience to many.

However, for certain communities like the disabled and the elderly, the situation brought extra challenges for them.

For GST from Kuang, the latest water rationing exercise started on a good note. It was surprisingly the best organised one he had experienced in a decade – or so he thought, until things went awry later.

The 60-year-old blind man whose wife is sighted, was thrilled when the water cut schedule details were made public with ample notice given. He picked up the information on the Internet with the help of a screen reader, a software program that allows the visually impaired to read text on the computer screen with a speech synthesiser.

The couple got all the large water containers out of their storeroom and placed them in strategic places in their house.

As GST’s wife goes out to work everyday and the former is left in the house to do the cooking and cleaning, careful thought was given on where the pails of water were kept, especially as each exercise would stretch for 48 hours on a rotation basis.

So the water containers were placed in the kitchen, bathroom and garden.

GST’s responsibilities include mopping the floor, bathing his two dogs and ensuring that they have fresh water everyday. The water cuts were no excuse for a blind man to shirk his responsibilities. He had to be careful though, not to spill water on the floor as that could pose a hazard should he slip and fall when he is alone in the house.

Last week, GST cleared all his containers and kept them in the storeroom, thinking that the water rationing exercise was over. However, the exercise has been extended to the end of this month.

For people in wheelchairs, the water cuts can be a nightmare. MY and her husband live in Kepong. Both of them are wheelchair users. When their taps suddenly went dry, their hearts almost stopped.

The couple claim that the water cuts came when it was not supposed to. Luckily for them, the pipe outside their house had water trickling in.

They had to carry pails on their laps in their wheelchairs, in and out of the house to collect water to last them for two days. Their wheelchairs left behind ugly tyre marks from the spilled water in their living room and kitchen.

They had no one to ask for help. Even their able-bodied neighbours didn’t come forward to offer help.

With all the pails in the house, the couple also had trouble manoeuvring their wheelchairs around.

As the disabled are badly affected by any water cuts, here are some steps that can be taken to give them a helping hand:

Local councils: Please have a registry of disabled and elderly residents in your area. During crisis situations like this, make a call or visit these vulnerable residents to check on them. Offer to make special delivery of water for those who need it. Extend this service to centres for the disabled and the elderly. Set up a 24-hour hotline for them. Train your staff to handle SOS calls from the elderly and the disabled, so that they can be referred to other emergency services.

When delivering water to the public, create a priority line for the disabled and the elderly. Be prepared to give them extra help, if necessary. For example, they may need help in carrying water containers to their vehicles or homes.

> Residents’ associations: Please take a sincere interest in the welfare of all your residents, not just the healthy ones. Try to put yourselves in the shoes of these vulnerable groups, and go the extra mile to help them. Include them in all your programmes.

> Neighbours: Do try to get to know who your neighbours are, especially those who need your help, but may be too shy or afraid to approach you.

The views expressed are entirely the writer’s own.

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