It is estimated that of the 15 percent of the world’s population - approximately 1 billion people - who live with a disability, around 80 percent of these individuals live in developing countries. A 2020 report by Human Rights Watch noted that Afghanistan has one of the world’s largest populations per capita of people with disabilities or a chronic illness. 

The disability-poverty cycle

Poverty can lead to disability and disability worsens experiences of poverty, creating an extremely harsh cycle for many vulnerable families across the world.

For instance, in Afghanistan, poverty increases the likelihood of families living in dangerous living conditions, therefore heightening their proximity to conflict, exposure to natural hazards and experiences of inadequate housing, water and sanitation. People living in these conditions are therefore far more likely to become disabled or chronically ill, marginalising them and their families further.

Here at Afghanaid, we know that efforts to combat poverty can therefore only be effective through the prioritization and inclusion of people with disabilities.

Marziah, 5, tends to her sister Fatima, 3, who was born with a disability in Chil Kapa village, Badakhshan.

Prioritising people with disabilities

All of our projects are specifically designed to target the most vulnerable people, including those with disabilities and chronic illness, helping to remove the barriers which may prevent them from enrolling in our projects, earning an income, and playing a role in driving progress in their communities.

For example:

  1. A vital aspect of our the beneficiary selection process involves door-to-door surveys, which allow us to directly assess the varied and unique needs of individuals with disabilities. This helps to overcome the stigma and community norms that may act as a barrier to these individuals leaving their homes and/or enrolling in our projects.
  2. We directly advise communities that priority is given to households with family members who are disabled. This helps to incentivise family members to promote the inclusion of their disabled relatives, change perceptions about disability, and ensure that the communities begin to appreciate untapped potential of people with disabilities, increasing the likelihood that they will then advocate better for disabled community members.
  3. We specifically select the most accessible distribution points and training centres possible, using the information gathered in door-to-door surveys to ensure that they are close to the homes of families with a disabled household member, and where this cannot be achieved, providing these households with transportation in our vehicles, or delivering the courses directly in their homes;
  4. Within our projects that involve vocational training courses, vocations are selected according to the unique needs of the individual. For instance, within our disaster-risk reduction work in Samangan and Badakhshan provinces - in which we directly work with over 890 people with disabilities - we might encourage an individual whose physical needs prevent them from leaving their home to enrol onto our home gardening training course, mitigating the access problems that may prevent them from earning an income, whilst helping to make their communities more resilient to climate change.

47-year-old Mohammad Omar is a father of five young children. When conflict erupted in their village last year, Mohammad Omar and his wife took their children in search of safety. "During our escape I stepped on a landmine and my leg was severely injured in the explosion. Eventually the doctors had to remove some of it,” he told us. Because of his disability, Mohammad has since struggled to find work and provide for his family's basic needs. 

We've been helping Mohammad to care for his wife and children through the harsh winter, “Afghanaid helped us when we were in a critical situation, and I will always be grateful to them for helping me and the other vulnerable families get through this time." 

Read Mohammad's story

The intersections of inequalities

Here at Afghanaid, we are always mindful of where inequalities overlap and intersect. For instance, the centrality of women’s rights and women’s empowerment to all of our work ensures that we are constantly identifying at the unique needs of women with disabilities to address the additional accessibility barriers they face and build a more equal future for the country.

Read more about our women’s empowerment work

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