Transforming economic outlook for people with disability in India

Photo of Maya in her farm picking crops.
With a customised wheelchair, Maya manages a small farm and earns enough to support her family. Credit: CBM Australia

In rural Uttar Pradesh, India, CBM Australia runs a community project to improve the economic situation of people with disability. The project — Parivartan — ensures that people with disability have access to assistive devices, rehabilitation support, health care and education. It also supports participants to develop small businesses.

One of the biggest achievements of the project is supporting people with disability to access government benefits. Often illiterate, people with disability in Uttar Pradesh do not know how to fill out forms, submit applications and navigate the complex systems to access government pensions and entitlements.

The total amount of funds that the project team has helped people with disability access from the government is AU$700,000 — this includes pensions, goods, loans and infrastructure support.

Much of this government funding to people with disability will continue, even when the project is finished. Around 900 people with disability, who would have otherwise missed out on receiving the disability pension, now are signed up to receive it.

Not only are people receiving benefits, but the 93 community groups established by the project are now accessing small loans from the bank, which they are using to build their own businesses.

“Over the last 3 years we have seen a big increase in the numbers of people with disability who now have savings. And we also see that people with disability are accessing bank loans — this is a remarkable indicator of how much this project has caused positive change,” said Prof Abhishek Thakur of the Delhi School of Social Work, who led a study looking at the economic impact of the project.

Living in Uttar Pradesh, Maya is a single mother of four children and the family’s breadwinner. A poliomyelitis infection at the age of five resulted in neuromuscular paralysis. Through the project, Maya accessed a customised wheelchair. She now manages a small farm, where she grows vegetables and earns enough to support her family.

CBM Australia is supported through the Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP).

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