Stories of People with Disabilities in Developing Countries from Around the World

Posted on 15 September 2008. Filed under: Academic Papers and Research, Announcements, Cross-Disability, Democratic Participation, Education, Human Rights, Inclusion, Latin America & Caribbean, Mobility Impariments, South Asian Region, Sub-Saharan Africa Region | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , |

Too often, the voices of people with disabilities are simply not heard–within their country, within their community, or sometimes even within families. The voices of disabled people in developing countries are even more suppressed.

One special issue of the New Internationalist, released in 2005, brings us the voices of people with disabilities from India … Zimbabwe … Sri Lanka … Colombia … Bangladesh … and elsewhere.

The stories and interviews published in their magazine, available for free on-line, share the experiences of people with disabilities in developing countries in their struggle for sexual expression … the harrowing experience of rape … the push to achieve recognition for their human rights … the battle against severe poverty and starvation … success at becoming a blind teacher … getting involved with politics … and overcoming discrimination in the work force.

Browse the stories at the New Internationalist website at:

http://www.newint.org/issue384/index.htm

Each story can be read on-line in html format; they do not need to be downloaded.



I learned of this magazine issue when several of its stories were recently circulated via email on the Disability Information Dissemination Network, which is managed by the Centre for Services and Information on Disability (CSID), Bangladesh, and currently sponsored by Handicap International. People may subscribe directly to the CSID mailing list by sending an email to csid@bdmail.net, csid@bdonline.com, or info@csididnet.org, with the word “join” in the subject line.

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PAPER; NEWS: World Bank Report on Disabled in India

Posted on 1 December 2007. Filed under: Academic Papers and Research, Announcements, Cross-Disability, Education, Employment, Health, News, Reports, South Asian Region | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

New World Bank Report Finds People with Disabilities among the Most Excluded in Indian Society
Disabled adults have far lower employment rates than others – reduced from 43 % in 1991 to 38% in 2002

Contact : in New Delhi
Kiran Negiknegi@worldbank.org

New Delhi, November 20, 2007: A new World Bank report finds people with disabilities among the most excluded in Indian society Low literacy and employment rates and widespread social stigma are leaving disabled people behind. With better education and more access to jobs, India’s 40 to 90 million disabled people will generate higher growth which will benefit the country as a whole.

The report entitled People with Disabilities in India: From Commitments to Outcomes, says that as the country makes economic progress, the incidence of communicable disease-induced disabilities such as polio are likely to fall, whereas age and lifestyle-related disabilities and those due to traffic accidents are expected to rise sharply. For example, internationally, the lowest reported disability rates are in sub-Saharan Africa while the highest are in the Organization for Economic Development (OECD) countries. The report therefore highlights the need for a multi-faceted approach so that disabled people realize their full individual potential and maximize their social and economic contribution to society.

The report finds that people with disabilities are subject to multiple deprivations. Households with disabled members are significantly poorer than average, with lower consumption and fewer assets. Children living with disability are around 4 to 5 times less likely to be in school than Scheduled Tribe and Scheduled Caste children. Disabled adults also have far lower employment rates than the general population – and this fell from 43 % in 1991 to 38% in 2002, even in the midst of economic growth.

Social attitudes and stigma play an important role in limiting the opportunities of disabled people for full participation in social and economic life, often even within their own families. For example, in surveys carried out for the report, around 50 percent of households saw the cause of disability as a “curse of God”. Women with disabilities face numerous additional challenges.

“India has an impressive set of policy commitments to its citizens with disabilities”, said Isabel Guerrero, World Bank Country Director for India. “The challenge facing Indian society now is to translate those commitments into better lives for disabled people. This includes identifying disabilities in young children, getting more disabled children into school and preparing them for the workplace and family life, and most importantly working to reduce the social stigma which disabled people face”.

Despite the many challenges, concerted efforts by the Government, civil society, the private sector, and disabled people themselves, the untapped potential of this large group of citizens can be released for their own benefit as well as for society at large.

“Increasing the status and social and economic participation of people with disabilities would have positive effects on everyone, not just disabled people” said Philip O’Keefe, Lead Social Protection Specialist and main author of the report. “A simple example is increasing accessibility of public transport and buildings for disabled people – a measure which would benefit a wide range of people including the elderly, pregnant women and children. More broadly, people with disabilities who are better educated and more economically active will generate higher growth in which everyone will share,” he added.

India’s implementation capacity is generally weak in a number of areas of service delivery which are most critical to improving the situation of disabled people. It is thus not realistic to expect that all the actions needed by many public and non-public actors can be taken all at once. The report highlights the need for prioritization of the most critical interventions to maximize the benefit for people living with disability:

(i) Preventive care – both for mothers through nutritional interventions, and infants through nutrition and basic immunization coverage
(ii) Identifying people with disabilities as soon as possible after onset – the system needs major improvements in this most basic function
(iii) Major improvements in early intervention, which can cost-effectively transform the lives of disabled people, their families, and the communities they live and work in
(iv) Getting all children with special needs into school and giving them the skills to participate fully in family and economic life
(v) Expanding the under-developed efforts to improve societal attitudes to people with disabilities, relying on public-private partnerships that build on successful models already operating in India.

The study points out that it is neither possible nor desirable for the public sector to “do it all”. Instead, partnerships with NGOs, civil society, and the private sector are critical to achieve effective and lasting results. The key step in such partnerships is brining disabled people themselves into the policymaking process along with public and non-governmental institutions.

Some other findings of the report:

  • There are substantial differences in socio-economic outcomes, social stigma, and access to services by disability type, with those with mental illness and mental retardation in a particularly poor position. There are also major urban/rural differences in outcomes, Gender, class and regional variations are also significant in many cases
  • Estimates vary, there is growing evidence that people with disabilities comprise between 4 and 8 percent of the Indian population (around 40-90 million individuals)
  • Between 1990 and 2020, there is predicted to be a halving of disability due to communicable diseases, a doubling of disability due to injuries/accidents, and a more than 40 percent increase in the share of disability due to non-communicable diseases
  • Disabled people have much lower educational attainment rates, with 52 percent illiteracy against a 35 percent average for the general population.
  • Illiteracy is high among children across all categories, in even the best performing major states, a significant share of out of school children are those with disabilities – Kerala, 27 percent, in Tamil Nadu over 33 percent
  • Private sector employment incentives for hiring disabled people are few and piecemeal. In the late 1990s, employment of People with Disability (PWD) among large private firms was only 0.3 percent of their workforce. Among multinational companies, the situation was far worse, with only 0.05 percent being PWD
  • In early 2006, a National Policy on Persons with Disabilities was approved by Government of India. To date, the only states that have draft disability policies are Chhattisgarh and Karnataka. The Chhattisgarh draft state disability policy can be considered “best practice”, and could provide a model for future national and state-level policy development.

People can follow this link to learn more about the report, or download individual chapters, at:
http://go.worldbank.org/48NBTTBRJ0

Individual chapters include: Socio-Economic Profile of Persons with Disabilities; Attitudes; Health; Education; Employment; Social Protection; Policies and Institutions; and Access

Or follow this link to download the full report in PDF format (1.8Mb).


The text for this blog post is taken from a press release from the World Bank.


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NEWS: Sudan nationwide polio immunization drive

Posted on 23 October 2007. Filed under: Health, Mobility Impariments, News, Sub-Saharan Africa Region | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

As some We Can Do readers are well aware, polio, a potentially deadly disease that can leave its survivors with paralysis, is not yet entirely eradicated from the face of the Earth. Rich countries generally have been polio free for many decades–and even some developing countries have been polio free for many years as well. But in a few remaining countries, polio does occasionally flare up from time to time. And probably anyone with a sufficently strong network of contacts among the international disability community eventually encounters a number of commited, active young advocates in developing countries who happen to have been paralyzed due to polio.

United Nations agencies and Sudanese health officials have recently announced a massive nationwide polio immunization campaign. Sudan had previously been declared polio-free in 2005, but the potentially deadly virus was recently discovered again.

For more detail, follow the link to:

http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=24358&Cr=polio&Cr1=


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NEWS: Disability Rights in Malawi

Posted on 19 October 2007. Filed under: News, Sub-Saharan Africa Region | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , |

Disability rights activist Mussa Chiwaula, a polio survivor, has been lobbying the Malawi government to enable people with disabilities to improve their lives and contribute to the development of their country. One result has been a government policy called Equalization of Opportunities for People with Disabilities, which has started to help some disabled people enter the job force for the first time. Chiwaula, however, says the policy still needs better implementation.

For the whole story on Mussa Chiwaula and his activities in Malawi, read the Voice of America story at http://voanews.com/english/Africa/2007-10-10-voa48.cfm

We Can Do was alerted to this story by Ghulam Nabi Nazimani.


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New Report on Disabled People in Zimbabwe

Posted on 15 September 2007. Filed under: Announcements, Cross-Disability, Sub-Saharan Africa Region | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

A newly released report entitled “The forgotten tribe: People with disabilities in Zimbabwe” shares the experiences of disabled people, the discrimination they face in Zimbabwe society, and their exclusion from the usual government and civil society sources of aid.

Written by Tsitsi Chorumi and published by the organization Progressio, the report presents the results of a survey of disabled people in Zimbabwe soliciting their opinions on how their needs could be better met. The survey includes a focus on policy and legislative needs; poverty; gender; health; HIV and AIDS; education; employment; and sports and recreation. “The forgotten tribe” also summarizes some of the work Progressio has conducted in Zimbabwe.

Respondents in the survey include: people with polio; amputees; people with club feet; congenital deformity; paraplegia; speech impairments; hearing impairments; visually impaired; physically impaired; hemiparesis; mentally challenged; and albinos. (Disclaimer alert: Please note that I have presented all these terms exactly as used in the survey itself on page 10 though some of these terms differ from terminology that I would ordinarily use myself.)

A print copy of the report can be purchased for 5 British pounds, or it can be downloaded for free in PDF format (283 kilobytes). It is available only in English, though the Progressio website itself is available either in English or in Spanish. Progressio is an international development charity working for justice and the eradication of poverty.

I learned about this resource through a regular electronic email newsletter run by Disabled People International (DPI). However, neither DPI nor I are involved with this report. To learn more about “The forgotten tribe,” or to download the report itself, please follow the link to http://tinyurl.com/2awurp.


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