Disability and Poverty: A Global Challenge


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Because of this information divide, persons with disabilities are being excluded from society suffering inequality and poverty. The Global IT Challenge was initially designed to enhance the information utilisation skill of youths with disabilities in the category of visual disability, hearing disability, locomotor disability and developmental disorder and to encourage their social participation. The event started in the year in Korea.

Subsequently it expanded to the neighbouring countries throughout the Asia-Pacific region and since it has become a global event. Some of the prominent personalities from Korea who would be representing Rehabilitation International, Korea, the main organiser are X Close. Some of the prominent personalities from Korea who would be representing Rehabilitation International, Korea, the main organiser are:- Dr. Delivery of the porridge from the district hospital to central points would be stopped and mothers of sick children were stopped taking porridge home after discharge from health centres.

Several visits to the district hospital showed distressed women two informants included stating that the children had improved during the hospital stay but were going to die at home because of lack of food. Wasting, delayed milestones and stunting were noted in 37 of the children.


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Most of the informants' sentiments were to see an improvement in their children's health, stating:. Child mortality was witnessed with affected informants stating:. There was no proper food to feed her.


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The informants, especially women, reported of having undergone several HIV tests anticipating a positive result in order to access food aid from the few NGOs that carried out Voluntary Counselling and Testing VCT programmes in the district. Water and sanitation: 'Go, the water will follow'. The above was a statement by district administrators during the evictions when the 'river' Tonga asked how they were going to survive on the dry mainland, maintaining that they were still waiting for their water to follow them, stating:. Informants stated how dehumanising this was to them as a people.

Drinking water was sourced from open ponds, wells and dried-up river beds competing with animals , with only a few having access to boreholes. Women had to walk up to 20 kilometres to fetch water twice a day in the scorching heat. This was a huge constraint and anguish to informants who had to carry the disabled child on their backs during such strenuous household chores resulting in reports of backache and chest pains.

They reported of not being able to leave the child at home because of the child's problems such as athetoid palsy flaccidity or repetitive behaviours head banging or crying that would make it difficult for siblings or co-wives to cope with. Lack of piped water, boreholes, asbestos or tin roofs resulted in the consumption of contaminated water especially during the rainy season for lack of sanitation.

Only one family had sanitation in the form of a dug-out pit while the rest practised open defecation. Cholera outbreaks, infections and diarrhoea mainly affected the under five-year-olds, the sick and the elderly. Bathing was a luxury especially during the dry season when water was scarce. It was common to hear female informants stating:. Hygienic processes such as washing of children's soiled clothes were compromised, leading to more infant infections and anguish to the informants who could not access healthcare for their children.

Some villages were void of fresh water, relying on salty unpalatable water instead. The consumption of salty water was noted with adverse effects of yellow corroded teeth among the children. Vegetable gardens were not possible since the water was not conducive to plant life. Out of the 53 children, 8 were born at a health centre, 14 were immunised, 10 attended health centres at least once for treatment, 4 received rehabilitation services, and all 53 needed therapy and assistive devices which were out of reach for most of them.

Lack of access to health services because of financial constraints, lack of health centres, medical personnel, medicines, long distances and lack of public transport were constraints that affected the whole district. Informants reported emotional and practical suffering in dealing with multiple healthcare-seeking procedures with the disabled child compared with when they had non-disabled children, resulting in a lot of anguish and disruption in the family.

Disability and Poverty

The following narration shows the anguish caused by poverty, lack of and access to social services and development to the district:. He had no head control and could not sit up. My fears were confirmed when at 10 months he could not sit up. The first port of call was the traditional healer's place but the family had no money and so we went to the prophet at the church of Zion who stated that the child was disabled and would never walk.

My brother who works in Bulawayo then sent some money and we took the child to Binga rehabilitation department where I was shown some exercises to do and not the cause of the disability.

Lynne Featherstone: Putting disability on the global agenda

After this we visited the traditional healer who confirmed that the child was bewitched. The problems with the child are that he is always sick and needs medication that we cannot afford and that he cries all the time and so stays on my back all the time. My biggest problem is the fact that he cannot sit or crawl like other children.

I am now worried about the coming rainy season whereby I should be working in the fields with the rest of the family. Meanwhile I cannot carry out "piece jobs" for other families such as cutting thatching grass or take part in community activities. Having a disabled child necessitated visits to the traditional healer to find out 'why' it happened and later for treatments.

The Tonga believed causes of disability to be ancestors' sorrow or witchcraft. If not, the 'will of God or it just happened' resulting in not putting blame on the family or the child. The child was referred to as mwana murema meaning a disabled child and taken care of as well as its siblings. Tonga women referred to childbirth as:. Maternal and high infant mortality during labour created anguish for the families with many wishing they could access modern healthcare.

Excessive bleeding and complications during and after giving birth were reported as major causes with malaria, malnutrition, diarrhoea, infections and other diseases. Poverty resulted in many of the informants selling mosquito nets received from government or NGOs in order to buy food or medication for the sick disabled child when in actual fact the child needed malaria prevention.

Reports of seizures, lack of ADL and emotional and behavioural problems were very common among the disabled children.

We are the world: meeting the global challenge of childhood disability

I have to wash, dress, feed and carry him on my back or lay him down. Parents of a four-year-old boy and five-year-old girl with emotional and behavioural problems stated:. He has a tendency to wonder in the forest and we fear he might drown or fall over a cliff. He is young so he is not able to untie himself - we untie him when his father and brothers are at home so as to run after him when he escapes. Lack of clothes was noted, with informants wearing 'hand- me-downs' from family members in nearby towns or well-wishers. Suspected HIV-positive disabled children suffered a double blow of infections and problems relating to disability such as cognitive and motor delays.

HIV-positive informants and their disabled children were noted to be struggling to survive without anti-retroviral treatment with children who could have been HIV negative if prevention of mother-to-child transmission PMTCT services were available. VCT services have yet to reach the majority of the informants while most parts of the country are receiving the services. It was also noted that for those receiving the services, the Information, Education and Communication IEC materials were not in the local language, disadvantaging the communities.

Lack of appropriate services for disabled children such as community-based rehabilitation CBR was a barrier to independence, limiting ADL skills resulting in total dependency on caregivers.

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This was a major issue especially among adolescents who needed privacy with activities such as bathing or toileting. The aim of the study was explained to the informants who gave their consent by signing a consent form or putting an 'X' figure as signature. The families were identified by numbers to maintain anonymity and confidentiality. The researcher and first author of this article is Zimbabwean with a fairly good command of Chitonga.

The informants were open minded, hospitable, eager to participate and willing to tell their stories. Furthermore, the research assistant was a Tonga rehabilitation technician with over 30 years' experience working in the district. She helped with explanations of Tonga culture, and facilitated negotiations for entry to the district through community chiefs and headmen, the district administrator and access to the informants. According to the World Commission on Dams , the resettlement programme was removed from the main Kariba project, a deliberate act to disadvantage the Tonga.

InDepth: EMPLOYMENT, Disability and Poverty

They were not allowed to participate in decisions involving the planning of their resettlement and efforts were not made to minimise the negative impact of the displacement. The potential use of the Kariba water for irrigation was not investigated as part of the project. Displacement resulted in loss of cultural identity when materials of cultural values and shrines were left behind, loss of livelihoods as well as unprotected settlements that exposed them to wild animal attacks. Healthcare and education were virtually absent, communication and transport were non-existent, and travel was mainly by foot along footpaths which exposed them to wild animal attacks.

Lack of equitable distribution of benefits from the project such as improved living standards, water, electricity, social services and employment showed how Kariba has failed the test of development effectiveness.

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Binga appears to have missed out on the massive development programmes implemented in the early years of independence by the government and NGOs. The country's independence did not usher in much improvement to the district as in the rest of the country. Political violence in the form of food aid withdrawal and lack of development has resulted in a life of abject misery and extreme human suffering.

The forced relocation had a dramatic effect on their lives, the consequences of which are still felt today Conyers ; Cumanzala Their quality of life has not changed for the better pre- or post-independent Zimbabwe, stating that the 'past is the present'. Structural violence was the root cause of their problems which were not found in personal responsibility but in displacement of communities by a dam planned by powerful actors, which has to date created a situation of extreme human suffering.

Cerebral palsy was seen to create a lot of suffering for the informants and their disabled children. Insomnia, anxiety, stress, tiredness and depression were reported and noted to affect some of their daily activities. Reports of anguish, stress and anger of seeing their disabled child with no education, a future without a job meant perpetual poverty for both the child and family. Broadly, the challenges included psychological ones owing to caregiver demands and uncertainties and physical health challenges that emanated from excessive stress and through constantly assisting their children in ADLs as also noted by Sajedi et al.

Lack of financial help and isolation led to reports of depression, which affected crucial activities such as fieldwork that would lead to less yields. Lack of mobility led to food poverty because of loss of manpower where the child would have contributed as part of the household by working in the fields as well as fetching wild fruits for family consumption during the famine months. Traditional healer treatments in the hope of improving the child's disability resulted in economic challenges with some reporting being in debt.

Disability and Poverty: A Global Challenge Disability and Poverty: A Global Challenge
Disability and Poverty: A Global Challenge Disability and Poverty: A Global Challenge
Disability and Poverty: A Global Challenge Disability and Poverty: A Global Challenge
Disability and Poverty: A Global Challenge Disability and Poverty: A Global Challenge
Disability and Poverty: A Global Challenge Disability and Poverty: A Global Challenge
Disability and Poverty: A Global Challenge Disability and Poverty: A Global Challenge
Disability and Poverty: A Global Challenge Disability and Poverty: A Global Challenge
Disability and Poverty: A Global Challenge Disability and Poverty: A Global Challenge

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