Group versus individually designed and managed IGPs
Disabled people sometimes feel that they are discriminated against
by the donor community. A participant at the Entebbe Workshop asked this
Why is it always emphasised that the development of
PWDs should be undertaken in groups, yet the able-bodied develop as
Implied here is indeed a subtle form of discrimination against the
disabled. They are assumed not to be capable of handling matters "on their own."
They must either have somebody to hold their hands (the charity model), or they
must hold each others' hands (the group model). Of course, there is nothing
wrong in working in groups. On the contrary, group work has certain definite
advantages. The workshop itself identified some of these:
· Groups are important particularly for certain
kinds of projects which would otherwise be difficult to be undertaken by
individuals, such as fence-making.
· Furthermore, group projects enable people with different
disabilities to complement one another's strong points and to compensate for
· Group work promotes social integration and recognition in
the community. Thus, they are most suitable for CBR projects.
· Team work allows for the emergence of new ideas.
· It enables people to acquire leadership qualities, people
who need to be constantly accountable to their peer group.
· Group efforts are generally more sustainable, and, if well
run, have a higher level of continuity and possibilities of expansion.
· Finally, but not least, group work embodies the spirit of
solidarity. A united force can lobby better for changes in the policies and
practices of the government, the community, the NGOs, and other
All these advantages of group work are well known and appreciated.
What the Entebbe participants were op posed to was the idea that PWDs can only
work in groups. They were challenging the general tendency on the part of donors
to insist on PWDs to form themselves into groups before they could be supported.
One of the donor representatives at the workshop explained it thus:
Donors generally prefer to fund groups because limited resources
would this way benefit more people. Furthermore, group projects cater a wider
community, and a wide range of skills and abilities are tapped and utilised.
Issues like equity, capacity building and management are taken care of In
funding an individual, there is no assurance that capacity building would be
achieved. There are, of course, some advantages of individual projects, such as,
quick decision making and individual recognition. But the disadvantages are that
these individual projects tend to have limited life span, and could be
exploitative of the workers.
The workshop participants themselves identified the following as
specific advantages of individual projects:
The Advantages of Individual Projects
· They are directly related to the needs of the
· They are less risky.
· There is high level of
commitment and motivation in individual projects.
· There are less
legal implications and difficulties.
And they relayed the following negative experiences many of them
had in working through group projects:
Disadvantages of Group Projects
· Divergent needs by different members; some
needs are left out when people have to work in groups.
· More risks due to divergence among members.
· Some members lack commitment. Selfishness of some members
who want to get more from the project compared to what they put in it. Group
projects are burdened by more "observers" and fewer participators. This can
result in meagre output because actual contribution is only from a few people.
· Lack of legal contract among group members can create
· Newly formed groups do not understand what it means to
work as a group and to take collective decisions.
· Some groups start projects which are not related to their
physical and mental abilities. As a result, they are frustrated during
implementation and finally the project is abandoned.
· Financial mismanagement and accountability is a constant
· Lack of unity among participants.
· Poor division of labour whereby some leaders tend to
Of course, the debate is inconclusive. This is one of those issues
where it is unwise to be rigid. Much depends on the concrete circumstances of
each situation. Remember our analogy of the street map - only the inhabitants
know the terrain, the byways and highways. From the outside we need to keep an
open mind about various possibilities.
The workshop itself recommended that individual as well as group
projects should both be promoted. The donor representative who earlier gave the
reasons why her organization generally favoured the group approach went on to
add, however, that in recent times it was now moving in the direction of
supporting qualified individual micro-projects, not directly, but through
intermediary (NGOs) The ILO representative at the workshop added that recently
there has been a tendency in his organization also to advocate funding
individuals rather than groups because of the problems experienced in group
There we are. It is an open field. For certain purposes and in
certain situations, there is no question that the group approach is ideal. But
there is no reason why highly motivated individuals should not be encouraged to
plough their own furrows. The objectives of the next four chapters is to look at
general issues that concern both groups and individuals when they get into
income generating projects.
However, before we end this chapter, there is an important issue
that must be addressed. This is the question of gender and class in relation to
strategies aimed at enabling the PWDs to be