Cover Image
close this bookSustainable Development and Persons with Disabilities: The Process of Self-Empowerment (ADF, 1995, 117 p.)
close this folderSection II: Building economic self-reliance
close this folderChapter 5: Building economic self-reliance
View the documentThe importance of self-reliance
View the documentEmployment options for PWDs
View the documentGroup versus individually designed and managed IGPs
View the documentIGPs at the crossroads of gender and class
View the documentAction guidelines

Action guidelines

A. For Persons with Disability

PWDs must:

· As far as possible, aim at self-reliance. Self-sufficiency is an unachievable goal, because nobody on this earth is self-sufficient, we all need support and resources from outside. However, self-reliance, the ability to look after our own affairs, is both achievable and necessary for self-esteem.

· Decide which particular option is best suited for their circumstances self-employment, wage or salary employment, or within some kind of subsidized income generating activity, either in the mainstream economy or in an isolated operation with other fellow PWDs.

· If the circumstances, including their specific disability, are too exacting, difficult, then some kind of institutionalised subsidy may well have to become part of life. Otherwise, it is best to get out of subsidized existence as soon as is possible.

· Insist on being part of the mainstream, and not be isolated from the rest of society.

· Bear in mind that when engaged in group IGP, the first skill to learn is not the technical skill, but the human skills - how to relate to people, how to reconcile differences, how to observe group ethics. These make or break groups.

· Try not to be exploitative of other people when engaged in an IGP of their own as individuals. For then, how different are they from those they criticise for exploiting them?

· Always be conscious of gender and class differences amongst themselves as PWDs. When engaged in IGPs they must observe fair practice in relation to those sections of the society who tend to be abused or marginalised.

B. For the Government

The government should:

· Develop and implement policies which enable PWDs and their families to attain a decent quality of life.

· Not treat PWDs as one homogeneous group of people, and "lump" them together in a uniform programme of action. There are differences amongst them, and these differences have to be respected. There are those amongst them who might need institutionalised back-up support for many years. But the vast numbers are likely to be those who could look after themselves with some initial support in the form of training, tools, capital, and extension service.

· Work out with other stakeholders (for example, commercial banks for start-up capital) ways and means of providing subsidy, where this is necessary. It could, for example, take the form of subsidizing the salary of a skilled PWD employed by a private company.

· Encourage cooperatives of PWDs, where practical, so that PWDs can pool their resources and skills to earn collective living. These must then be supported with outreach programmes just like any other cooperative.

· Ensure and monitor the application of fair standards in relation to PWDs engaged in business. There are those among the PWDs who are quite competent to start a business or a profession as individuals. Often, however, they face discriminatory practices by trade associations, banks, marketing agencies, insurance companies, and even civil servants. These must be exposed and dealt with by law.

· Apply the "participatory' principle in all income generating projects of PWDs. They must facilitate the PWDs to do their own things.

C. For NGOs, INGOs and NGOs working with PWDs

· Much of what is said about the role and responsibility of governments also applies to NGOs, especially the need to respect differences amongst PWDs and to be sensitive to the specific demands of each category.

· Some IGOs and NGOs are moving out of their inclination to support only group initiatives among the PWDs. But many still are locked into past practices. PWDs need to be supported as groups, for sure. But PWDs are also individuals. Those amongst them who have the competence to start on their own as individuals must be supported.

· As with government, IGOs and NGOs must apply the "participatory" principle when working with the PWDs.

· They should consider funding programmes for parents of disabled children and caters of severely disabled persons.

Some Areas for Further Discussion

What is the difference between "self-sufficiency' and "self-reliance"? What does it take to be self-reliant?

What group ethics are necessary for a group income generating project to succeed?

Should donors support an individual PWD who exploits the labour or skills of other PWDs for his/her profit on the grounds that it at least creates employment for the latter?