Small, local DPOs (Disabled People Organizations) can be a valuable resource for disabled people in the communities where they work. But they cannot fight poverty and oppression among disabled people (or Deaf people) on their own. No single organization can.
Because of this, many DPOs may wish to reach out to larger, mainstream organizations. For example, perhaps you want support in persuading a micro-entrepreneural program to do a better job of including disabled would-be business owners in their training programs. Or you want to make sure the new water pump being installed in the village where you live or work is accessible for the many women in the community who have lost one or both arms due to land-mine accidents. How do you find organizations that might help? Or, how do you contact the organizations that are already working in your community or country?
In some cases, well-intended international organizations may implement projects that inadvertently create barriers for people with disabilities in your country. They may build schools without ramps. Or they offer training programs but fail to obtain sign language interpreters so that deaf people can participate in them. In most cases, this may be due to ignorance. They may lack experience with disabilities and fail to realize that the way in which they implement their programs can create problems for disabled people. Or they may even mistakenly assume that “there are no disabled people in this village” or that “disabled people aren’t interested in participating in this program” or “this program is for everyone, therefore disabled people are already included.” It can sometimes be worth the effort to reach out to these organizations to alert them to potential barriers for people with disabilities in your community and to offer your knowledge and advice in removing these barriers.
One starting point would be a listing from the World Bank entitled “Related Links, or Who’s Who in Disability and Development” at http://go.worldbank.org/DX34O72HO2.
Here, you will find a list of multi-lateral donors and bi-laterial donors; civil society organizations; organizations committed to corporate social responsibility (i.e., businesses that try to behave responsibily in the communities and countries where they operate); foundations; bibliographic sources; sources for statistics; and technology (internet accessibility). If you’re looking for disability-related statistics, then you may also wish to see an earlier We Can Do post entitled “Numbers Don’t Feed People” for links to more resources.
In case you didn’t already know: Multi-lateral donors are development banks like the World Bank, Asian Development Bank, Inter-American Development Bank and so forth. These are generally supported with donations from dozens of country governments. Their budget is used to make loans that support the country governments of developing countries in establishing development projects like roads, water and other infrastructure, schools, training programs for medical personnel, and so forth. Bi-lateral donors are individual country governments, like the United States or Japan, that make their grants or loans directly to the countries they support. Usually multi-lateral and bi-lateral donors do not directly fund smaller, local organizations: if you wish to receive funding from these organizations you may need to work through your country’s government. However, in some cases, these donors have made commitments to ensure that the projects they already support are accessible to people with disabilities. They may welcome your feedback and insights on how to do a better job of including disabled people in their programs.
DPOs may wish to explore the web sites for mainstream development banks, civil society organizations, and other mainstream organizations. This would allow you to become familiar with the development projects they support in your area. You could then contact the organization to start a dialogue to help ensure that these projects do not ignore or overlook the needs of people with disabilities in your country.
What about the other side of the equation? What if you’re a large, mainstream development organization that wants to find disabled people in the communities where you work so you can make sure your projects are accessible to them? One of the earliest posts I wrote for We Can Do, entitled “Finding Local Disability Organizations” should be suitable for your needs. You may also want to explore the many links in the We Can Do blogroll, posted at the right hand side and also at the very bottom of every page at We Can Do.
(Full disclosure alert: Yes, I currently work at the World Bank. However, I do not work directly on disability-related issues there. I maintain the We Can Do blog in my own time. Information posted here cannot be interpreted as speaking in any way for the World Bank or any unit or department within the Bank.)
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