Global Disability Summit: How CARE meets the needs of disabled people

Josafina inside her home in Ibumila village, Tanzania

Josafina is a 59-year-old woman living in Ibumila village in the Iringa district of Tanzania. In 2012, she lost a leg following an infection. As a smallholder farmer with six children, two of whom are still in school, this makes it even harder for her to grow enough food to eat and sell. 

Fortunately, Josafina has the support of her community members, who assist her in participating in CARE’s Growing is Learning project – which works with women farmers from 15 villages in the Iringa district to improve food security, nutrition, income and access to markets.

Josafina, a disabled woman in Tanzania, outside her home
Josafina outside her home

In Tanzania, nearly half of the population lives below the poverty line. Stunting – a sign of chronic malnutrition – affects more than one third of children under five years of age. Despite growing 70% of the food needed to feed their country, women farmers find it incredibly difficult to provide nutritious food for their families. They work 15 hour days in the field and lack the income and resources to provide nutritious meals.

That’s why we set up the Growing is Learning project. As well as providing training on farming techniques, sustainable farming, gender equality, and growing and preparing produce for sale in markets, the project also provides farmers with soy seeds for planting.

Why? Because soy has a healthy amount of nutrients including protein, making it an excellent supplement to porridge and other staple meals. In addition, there is a demand for soy in the local market. By training farmers on how to process the soy into a marketable product, the project aims to transform the role of women within the value chain, providing them with more decision-making power and growing their income.

Josafina and other women farmers working on their farm
Other farmers in Josafina's village help her work on her farm

How does the project make sure it reaches disabled people like Josafina?

First, we made sure that we identified people with disabilities (women and men) – and that they knew about the project. Our local partner organisations consulted village leaders and community members, convened village meetings, identified people with disabilities, and asked them if they wanted to participate in the project. All of them said yes.

We supported them to attend the training and to take part in activities like land preparation, weeding, and spraying. Wider community support was crucial to this. Through village meetings and specific training for village leaders, gender champions and community-based trainers, we raised community awareness on the rights of people with disabilities, addressed the stigma and discrimination that people with disabilities face, and encouraged community members to assist disabled people on their farms.

We also supported them to participate in other groups such as Village Savings and Loan Associations (VSLA) which can provide small loans for income-generating activities.

And we supported those less able to engage in soya production with different projects such as poultry keeping or home gardens.

In total, the project directly supported 70 people with disabilities (37 women and 33 men).

What is CARE doing to reach people with disabilities?

To mark the Global Disability Summit (taking place in London on 24 July 2018), we are making the following specific commitments:

  • Reaching people with disabilities in our humanitarian responses

We will include disability in the Rapid Gender Analysis that we carry out to ensure that our emergency responses identify and meet the different needs of everyone affected in crisis situations. In particular, we will identify and work with local disabled people’s organisations to help make sure we are identifying and reaching people with disabilities. Our Women and Girls Safe Spaces in crisis-affected areas will include measures to reach out to women and girls living with disabilities and to consult them to understand their specific needs. We will work with disabled people’s organisations to identify and support people with disabilities at risk of gender-based violencee. 

  • Ensuring people with disabilities can participate in savings groups

Our experience shows that informal savings groups, such as CARE-supported Village Savings and Loan Associations, are a vital entry point for delivering livelihood opportunities for people with disabilities – even those who are hardest to reach. CARE wants to see governments and donors who are attending the Disability Summit to promote more and better integration of savings groups into national social safety net programmes which target the vulnerable, so that people with disabilities have a fair opportunity to profit economically and benefit from group solidarity through savings groups.

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News and stories are provided by CARE staff working to support our emergency responses and long-term development programmes.