Disability Inclusion – Emerging Lessons and Future Direction

LINKS has ambitious targets on job creation and raising incomes for women and people with disabilities; 6,000 full-time equivalent jobs for people living with disabilities.

Disability prevalence data in Nigeria is conflicting and there is limited evidence on what works in disability-inclusive economic development programming in Nigeria (and elsewhere), in particular at scale. Much of the focus of disability inclusion has been on training programmes with limited evidence how this has (or has not) translated into employment opportunities and increased income. 

Moreover, training programmes are largely targeted at people living with disabilities and there is relatively less effort in ensuring that training programmes or other (complementary) interventions provide the conditions for people with disabilities to be able to participate on an equal basis.

Maximising opportunities for mainstreaming disability inclusion is essential for LINKS, assuming that the majority of numbers will ultimately need to come through mainstreaming rather than targeted interventions. Understanding barriers people with disabilities face and how those can be addressed through economic development programming will be important.

LINKS therefore undertook a detailed review to:

  • Understand attitudinal, environmental and institutional barriers that limit economic participation of people living with disabilities;
  • Understand what has and what hasn’t worked in addressing those barriers within economic development programming in Nigeria, and programmes in other areas.

Highlights from the Report

Ultimately the report argues that it is time for disability inclusion to find its way out of targeted niche efforts and enter into mainstream economic development programming that has the potential to reach large numbers of men and women with disabilities. 

A few key takeaways from the report are:

  • Disability inclusion in economic development can be a commercially viable business strategy if firms move away from a welfare approach. 
  • Supporting inclusive participation of persons with disabilities in agriculture provides a productive way out of poverty for large numbers of people in Nigeria and elsewhere.
  • Women with disabilities often experience the combined disadvantages associated with gender as well as disability. Understanding and addressing barriers to economic participation as well as the double discrimination faced by women with disabilities needs to be part of all programme interventions.
  • Filling existing data and evidence gaps is essential. Nigeria is a data-poor environment when it comes to people living with disabilities. 

Note: this report was written ahead of the budget cuts to LINKS for financial year April21 to March22, which will limit LINKS capability to take the findings and recommendations from the report forward.

COVID- 19 Response

Project implementation in these unprecedented times is challenging for all of us in Nigeria, but it presents new opportunities as well. As part of LINKS response to the COVID-19 outbreak and lockdown, we have taken a number of initiatives