And an estimated 80% of people with disabilities live in developing countries, which equates to one in five of the world’s poorest therefore, having a disability.
The barriers and challenges that persons with disabilities face on a daily basis cut across all aspects of their lives – education, healthcare, employment and livelihoods, justice, and social support – and are systemically embedded and found in community norms and attitudes.
UK Aid Direct, funded by the UK Government’s Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) (opens in a new window), is a multi-sectoral fund that supports the direct delivery of poverty reduction interventions by small and medium civil society organisations (CSOs). It sees the inclusion of persons with disabilities (alongside other vulnerable and marginalized groups) as essential, whatever the focus of their interventions.
Small and medium sized CSOs play a critical role in providing responsive, locally rooted, and locally led, interventions, and connecting them into wider policy and institutional issues. By tackling and transforming the realities of persons with disabilities through sustainable, long-term change it ensures we leave no one behind.
As a fund, UK Aid Direct’s investment in work that supports persons with disabilities has been steadily growing over the last five years. Within the current portfolio for example:
Strategies taken to support persons with disabilities
The civil society organisations (CSOs) funded through UK Aid Direct are responding to the needs of people living with disabilities through a range of context- and sector-specific strategies; from the local delivery of services through to national-level advocacy.
Below is a summary detailing these, broken down by response type:
Improving services and support
Empowering persons with disabilities to make their own decisions and hold others to account
Humanity & Inclusion, Bangladesh
Humanity and Inclusion (opens in a new window) is an independent charity that works alongside people with disabilities and vulnerable people, in situations of poverty and exclusion, conflict and disaster, to help meet their basic needs, improve their living conditions, and promote respect for their dignity and fundamental rights.
With a UK Aid Direct Impact grant (opens in a new tab), Humanity & Inclusion is working alongside government, organisations of people with disabilities, and communities in the Rangpur and Chittagong divisions of Bangladesh, to identify persons with disabilities who are most in need. They then work with these persons with disabilities, and their households, to fully understand their context, so they can develop tailored solutions to their needs.
Two years into the project, over 1,600 persons with disabilities have received regular physical and psychosocial rehabilitation services, enabling improved independence and social participation.
The economic empowerment and resilience of over 880 households has also improved, through livelihood’s training, peer support groups, facilitating better links to markets and referrals into public and private services like social welfare and micro-finance programmes.
The project has further supported over 1,150 households to improve their disaster preparedness with coping mechanisms in areas prone to frequent and devastating flooding.
Alongside this, the charity is working to raise awareness and tackle discrimination in local communities, including in disaster risk reduction planning. This has resulted in the adaptation of a rescue boat to make it the district’s first fully accessible, inclusive, community-owned rescue boat.
Able Child Africa, Rwanda
Able Child Africa (opens in a new window) works with local partners in Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda, to protect, educate and empower children with disabilities to fulfil their potential.
With a UK Aid Direct Community Partnership grant, Able Child Africa and its local partner Uwezo Youth Empowerment (UWEZO), are delivering the Raising Aspirations project in Rwanda. This project seeks to empower children and youth with disabilities to demand their inclusion in Sustainable Development Goal (SGD) related development processes in the country. It uses a youth-led approach with a network of 80 young persons with disabilities, driving forward advocacy and gathering evidence of good practices to inform inclusive programming.
Two and a half years into the work and the project’s youth disability advocates are changing community and official attitudes around disability through community awareness raising events, home and school visits and engagement in official consultations. They now have a place in several government forums, including working with the National Youth Council and the National Commission for Children to ensure the government’s SDG programmes incorporate disability-related information.
The project also uses an innovative mentoring approach where youth with disabilities work with children with disabilities to build confidence, skills, and knowledge of disability rights – an approach which has proved to be effective in empowering both the children and the youth to overcome the access barriers that children with disabilities face.
Further information on this project can be found on YouTube (opens in a new window).
A copy of this article is available to download as a PDF.