Disability in the developing world
A growing problem
Disability affects hundreds of millions of families in developing countries. Currently around 10 per cent of the total world’s population, or roughly 650 million people, live with a disability. In most of the OECD countries, females have higher rates of disability than males. Eighty per cent of persons with disabilities live in developing countries, according to the UN Development Program (UNDP), and the World Bank estimates that 20 per cent of the world’s poorest people have some kind of disability, and tend to be regarded in their own communities as the most disadvantaged. Statistics show a steady increase in these numbers.
A vicious cycle of poverty and exclusion
People with disabilities have the right to determine their own destiny and control decisions that affect their lives. Yet the dependency into which they are forced and their exclusion from public life works against this. The vicious circle of poverty, exclusion and dependency can be gleaned from literacy statistics, for example, which indicate higher than average rates of illiteracy among people with disabilities – most particularly women with disabilities.
Armed conflict and violence
For every child killed in warfare, three are injured and acquire a permanent form of disability. In some countries, up to a quarter of disabilities result from injuries and violence, says WHO.
Limb loss is one of the most physically and psychologically devastating events that can happen to a person. Not only does lower limb amputation cause major disfigurement, it renders people less mobile and at risk for loss of independence, whether in the developed or developing world.
1 in 10 children in the developing world is disabled
Horrible accidents; lack of immunisation against diseases such as polio or measles; inadequate facilities for difficult births; malaria…. all of these factors leave children in developing countries more vulnerable than most.We need to give disabled children the chance to escape from the vicious cycle of poverty and lack of opportunity in which they are trapped. We need to teach them the tools to build a better life for themselves and their community.