Including the Disabled in Poverty Reduction Strategies
Edited April 8, 2008, to add this paragraph: A new, up-dated version of the handbook described below is now available for free on-line in a format accessible to blind people. It is currently available only in English, but a French translation will be available in a few months from now (April 2008). For more details, go to: https://wecando.wordpress.com/2008/04/08/resource-on-line-handbook-supports-disabled-people-in-fighting-poverty/.
A resource, Making PRSP Inclusive (4 Mb), could help disability advocates in developing countries negotiate with their governments to ensure that disabled people, too, benefit from programs meant to enable them to escape poverty.
PRSP stands for “Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers” (PRSPs). A PRSP is a paper developed by governments that describe the policy and strategies they need to follow in order to reduce poverty and meet the Millennium Development Goals within their country.
These four little letters—PRSP—are some of the most powerful letters known in developing countries. These four letters can help fight poverty, disease, starvation, and ignorance among all populations—including the disabled. More precisely, they are meant to help governments figure out exactly what programs and resources they need to solve the biggest challenges that face the poorest citizens of their country. If a PRSP is developed well and wisely, then millions could benefit—and escape poverty. But if it is done poorly, then millions could lose—perhaps most particularly people with disabilities whose needs may often be overlooked.
PRSPs are never—or at least should never be—developed by government officials in isolation. Donors and development banks usually also participate in the process. They are able to offer advice based on what they have learned about PRSPs developed and implemented in many other developing countries. But the most important partners in the PRSP process are members of civil society. That means people like you—represented through non-governmental organizations (NGOs); trade unions; academic institutions; media outlets; federations of poor people; or, essentially, any organization that is not a government agency. Only the ordinary citizens of a country can best know what their own most urgent needs are. And only poor citizens know what barriers they most need to overcome before they can escape poverty.
The trouble is: in many countries, (Disabled People’s Organizations) DPOs, and people with disabilities generally, don’t participate in the process of developing their country’s PRSP. In some countries, the disability movement may still be weak and fragmented. Also, people with disabilities continue to be “invisible” in most societies: non-disabled people simply don’t think to include them unless they are asked or reminded.
The handbook, Making PRSP Inclusive, was written by the German chapter of Handicap International and the Christoffel-Blindenmission Deutschland (German Christian Blind Mission), and was financed by the World Bank and the German government. It is meant for everyone working in the field of disability including NGOs, service providers, professional associations, people with disabilities themselves, DPOs, and parents’ associations, who wants to participate in their national PRSP process. It is for people who want to ensure that the needs and concerns of disabled people are well represented when their government makes important decisions about what projects they should support; what policies they should implement; and what strategies they should follow when fighting poverty.
The handbook will help readers better understand what the PRSP; who helps develop a country’s PRSP; how the PRSP process works; who finances (funds, pays for) the PRSP; why it is important to include disability issues in your country’s PRSP; and how a DPO can participate in the PRSP. It includes ideas for how you can identify and recruit possible allies so you can help each other become more involved in the PRSP process in your country. It also includes suggestions for how you and the other groups you work with can develop a joint strategy for presenting the needs of disabled people in your country. Later chapters include detailed guidance on how you can work to develop a stronger network or alliance of DPOs and other organizations in your country to advocate or lobby for the needs of disabled people. “Case studies” are presented that describe how the disability movement has already succeeded in including disabled people in the PRSP process in Honduras, Bangladesh, Sierra Leone, Tanzania
For people new to disability–or for people who are looking for language that could help them explain disability to others–the Making PRSP Inclusive guidebook includes a section that defines disability and explains the medical, charity, and social models of disability and the World Health Organization (WHO) classifications of disability. (For additional explanation of the medical, charity, and social models of disability, and other models, see the paper Disability Movement from Charity to Empowerment by Kishor Bhanushali.)
The whole handbook, Making PRSP Inclusive, can be downloaded in PDF format; it is 4 megabytes, so people with a slow modem dial-up will need to allow plenty of time. It may also be possible for you to obtain permission to reproduce and distribute the handbook within your country: for instructions, see the page entitled “Imprint” in the handbook. [EDITED TO ADD: As indicated in the first paragraph of this article, a new, updated version of this handbook is now available on-line, without needing to download any PDF files.]
Handicap International has a full listing of its publications and resources that, like Making PRSP inclusive, can be downloaded for free. Some are targeted at disability advocates who need better tools and resources for educating their country governments about disability and persuading them to be more inclusive. Other publications are targeted at mainstream development organizations who want to find more effective ways of ensuring that people with disabilities are able to fully participate in the programs and projects they offer.
The information contained in this We Can Do post was gathered from the Handicap International web site; from the World Bank web site; and from the Making PRSP Inclusive guidebook itself.
Learn about the updated version of this handbook at https://wecando.wordpress.com/2008/04/08/resource-on-line-handbook-supports-disabled-people-in-fighting-poverty/
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