The association for people with disabilities (APD) is an NGO in Bangalore (India) that considers the rehabilitation and livelihood skills of people with disabilities. ADP runs several rural and urban community programs for the provision of mobility aids, inclusive education, vocational training, and training in horticulture.

Ramesh is a thirty-year-old man who works as a gardener at a nursery. Considering that as a child he had cerebral palsy and therefore could not go to school, it seems surprising that he is an employed man nowadays. Ramesh indeed struggled to get a job and to be self-reliant for a long time. At the age of thirty, hey heard about the horticulture program or ADP.

During nine months of training by ADP, Ramesh not only learned how to cultivate herbs but also how to maintain a business, all of which improved his independence and self-esteem. Ramesh has been employed as a gardener since 2010, is provided free accommodation, a meal and a salary of 3500 Indian rupees (US $ 55).

Agricultural and water management training can be the beginning of a long process to engage people with disabilities in employment in order to sustain their livelihood and independence. The outcomes of small-scale projects are a useful starting point for inclusion in mainstream large-scale agricultural programs.

The FAO joined the Thai government in their commitment to improving the livelihoods of rural people with disabilities in a step towards poverty alleviation and sustainable development. The aim of the mushroom farming project was to establish economic self-reliance for rural people with disabilities as entrepreneurs.

The mushroom production training for people with disabilities was initiated 12 years ago in Thailand by the FAO. Mushrooms offer good market opportunities, as they are part of the daily Thai diet, and can be produced at low costs. Furthermore, mushroom production does not require intensive physical labour, and therefore can be cultivated by people with a physical and/or mental disability.

Every step involved in mushroom cultivation was reviewed during training, including entrepreneurship and environmental protection. Forty-seven trainees successfully completed the 60 days training, after which they transferred their newly acquired know-how to their family and community.

Agriculture activities can be a strong source of livelihood and income for people with disabilities living in rural areas. This case shows that a mainstream organization such as the FAO is willing to invest in small pilot projects that include people with disabilities in income-generating activities. As a result, people with disabilities who received training became more self-reliant and enhanced their social status, benefiting their family at the same time.

The four-year project of Handicap International addresses the semi-nomad communities of Somali land, a particularly vulnerable group. The aim of the project is to improve the access to safe drinking water and sanitation facilities. In doing that, one of the main aims is to include people with disabilities in all the project phases.

Water shortage is an essential problem for many farmers. Therefore, the idea is to restore former ponds, and to make them safe from animals’ faeces and environmental pollution. Furthermore, ponds and sanitation structures have been adapted/designed to make them accessible for people with disabilities.

Not only people with disabilities benefit from the restored ponds (with safe water), but the community at large will benefit. In addition, ensuring safe water prevents the infection from water-borne diseases.

CBM and Addis Development Vision initiated an irrigated agriculture project in 2014 for people with disabilities.

Currently, 16 farmers (male and female) are daily involved in managing the farm. During the dry season, water is being diverted from the main river to the crops, using traditional irrigation techniques. During the rainy season, to avoid floods, the farmers make use of self-constructed flood protection measures made from stones.

The group has the policy that a person does whatever she/he can do. Sometimes, family members help out as well. The farmers furthermore manage their group income in case new equipment or seeds need to be bought, as well as taking account for possible emergencies or misfortunes. Everyone gets an equal part of the harvest to sell or for their own consumption. In the future, the farmers want to cultivate stable fruits trees and sugar cane.

In this case study people with disability are actively engaged in cultivating their crops, diverting water and constructing flood protection measures. While such projects have a lot of merit, the dream of MetaMeta and Enablement is to see the mainstream large-scale agriculture to become disability inclusive. 

The Menegesha social farm is part of the rehabilitation services that Cheshire Ethiopia provides to people with disabilities to help them recover from surgery.

The farm has the aim to show both children and adults that there are different opportunities to engage in income generating activities in a rural context, which do not require very physical work. Menegesha’s farm activities focus on home gardens with seasonal crops, a variety of herbs and fruit trees. Animals are also kept, such as chickens, pigs, goats, cows, fish and bees for honey production. Furthermore, Cheshire Ethiopia often organises workshops for both patients and the community on aquaculture, animal grazing, and the production of dairy products.

In this project, people with disabilities are taught how to engage in agricultural income generating activities. The proposed farming activities are innovative and low in intensity. Bee keeping, fish ponds, and the cultivation of herbs and crops can be a good source of income and they do not require heavy labour. Social farming also represents a new opportunity for farmers to deliver alternative services and to diversify the scope of their activities, thereby having a multi-functional role in society. 

U Ko Ko Gyi is from Taungoo and is physical impairment as a result of a stroke. His main source of income is small scale farming.

However, due to muscle weakness of the limbs, U Ko Ko Gyis  is unable to hold farming tools for extended periods of time. 

Through the 'Economic Empowerment Project' he received several adapted farming tools. These are significantly lighter in use and easier to handle. U Ko Ko Gyi is back to work and able to provide a livelihood for himself and his family.

Adapted farming tool

Ko Rambo is physically impaired and worked as a sales man of lottery tickets in Mandalay. He attended the 10-day Job Placement Coach training hosted by The Leprosy Mission Myanmar.

He now works as a Job Coach in city  and helps other people with disabilities to find a job. Some of them have become interested in selling lottery tickets as well. 

Ko Rambo enjoys supporting community members with disabilities and finding job opportunities for them in Mandalay.

Ma Cho (39 years old and having a visual impairment) lives together with her younger sister in Khin Tangyi village, Yaedashe township.

She experienced many challenges in life, such as discrimination by villagers and the inability to find a job. This negatively affected her self-image; she felt worried and scared to participate in her social-environment. 

Fortunately, she met Job Placement Coaches (JPC) Ma Thida Myint and Ma Thinn Myat Moe with whom she discussed vocational training- and employment opportunities. They encouraged her to attend a massage training at the school for the blind. In addition, they helped Ma Cho write a professional CV and prepare for a job interview. 

This appeared to be successful! Ma Cho is now working at Genky, a Massage Centre in Yangon. She enjoys her job and feels more confident than ever.  

Ma Phyo Ei Ei Htwe (38 years old and having post-polio paralysis) worked as a tailor for 3 years. She had to leave her job when she moved to Hlaing Tharyar township, together with her husband and child. 

She struggled to find a new job until she met Job Placement Coach (JPC) U Khin Mg Win At. They discussed employment opportunities and the JPC explained about the rights of people with disabilities. Ma Phyo Ei Ei Htwe felt confident again to find a new job.

With support of the JPC, she found a suitable new employer at a nearby sewing factory. The workload is in line with her capacity, which enables Ma Phyo Ei Ei Htwe to work despite her disability. She enjoys her job a lot! 

Chan Myae Aung (25 years old and having a physical impairment) left in 2016 Htein Pin village, Kyaukkyi township, to attend a hair cutting training in Yangon.

It included a 3 months training, provided by Association for Aid and Relief (AAR) - Japan. After the training, Chan Myae Aung stayed in the city as a casual worker while he tried to find a suitable job.

In May 2018, he met Job Placement Coach (JPC) U Khin Mg Win with whom he discussed his employment preferences and opportunities. The JPC arranged a job interview at a barber shop and within the same month he could start working as a hair dresser. 

Chan Myae Aung has a monthly income now which is sufficient to sustain himself and his parents. He is grateful for the work of the JPC. 

Kyaw Thu Htwe (31 years old and having a hearing impairment) lives in Phayar Hnitsue village, Taungoo township. Together with his family, he is farming and running a barber shop in the village. Despite being deaf, Kyaw Thu Htwe is eager to work.  

One day, he met Job Placement Coach (JPC) Ma Thida Myint, with whom he explored employment opportunities and possibilities to attend vocational skills training. After he expressed his interests in electronics, the JPC brought him in contact with a Copy and Electronic Product Maintenance Workshop. This company is founded and managed by a person with a disability, who gave Kyaw Thu Htwe skills training.

Nowadays Kyaw Thu Htwe is running a small shop from home, where he repairs and maintains electronic devices. Through these activities, his income increased and Kyaw Thu Htwe and his family are doing well.    

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