In Lao PDR, disability is stigmatized and often perceived as a misfortune that befalls a minority of people. In practice, everyone in Lao society may be susceptible to chronic conditions, injuries and illnesses, and the normal processes of ageing that can lead to reductions in functioning and the experience of disability, especially when faced with non-inclusive environments and discrimination. There are inherent attitudinal barriers and discrimination towards disability and people with disability, which permeate the current environment in Laos.
In this spirit of disability inclusion, the Government of Lao PDR has proactively sought to further strengthen its ability to deliver rehabilitation services and meet the needs of women, men, girls, and boys with disabilities through its recent actions. A draft National Strategy and Action Plan on Persons with Disabilities: 2017-2025 has been developed, with support from World Education.
There is also a shortage of rehabilitation and mental health professionals in Lao and rehabilitation and social service providers often themselves hold limiting beliefs about disability, contributing to further stigmatization of persons with disabilities.
To address these issues, World Education and partner Humanity and Inclusion are implementing the USAID Okard project. The initiative will work to improve and sustain the optimized functional ability and independent living of persons with disabilities in Lao PDR. World Education is guided by the philosophy of Disability Inclusive Development (DID) and the belief that no one should be left behind and uses a gender sensitive and socially inclusive approach to development of the rehabilitation of victims of trauma and people with disabilities.
The Activity has three main components – 1: Health; 2: Economic Empowerment; and 3: Stakeholder Engagement, and World Education is implementing a series of interrelated and cohesive interventions that are designed to improve and sustain the independent living and functional ability of persons with disabilities with mobility limitations and their households in Lao PDR, regardless of factors such as age, sex, gender expression, ethnic origin, indigenous status or cause of impairment.
Strategic information, education, and communication play a major role in the project’s drive to engender disability mainstreaming and improving people’s attitudes towards disability.
Learn more about USAID Okard project.