Volume 3 Issue 13 - July 01, 2005

Learning forum for livelihoods promotion for disabled persons

DNIS News Network - The Poorest Areas Civil Society (P.A.C.S.) programme organised a meeting of likeminded agencies to reflect on setting up a Learning Forum for Livelihoods Promotion for the Disabled, on 23 July 2005 at India Habitat Centre, New Delhi.

Around 25 organisations, represented by more than 45 participants, from northern, central and western India, active in various aspects of the disability sector, took part in this one day national forum.

The inaugural session started with the welcome address by Kiran Sharma, Programme Director (P.A.C.S.). The P.A.C.S. team made two presentations. The first was an overview of the P.A.C.S. programme and the second was on ‘The Learning forum – concept and need’. Following the presentations, there was a round of discussions wherein the participants gave their views and suggestions on refining the purpose of the programme. One of the major debates that ensued was on the approach that should be adopted to develop livelihood options for the disabled.

National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People (N.C.P.E.D.P.), represented by Devika Saha, made a presentation on ‘Promotion of Employment for Disabled People’ covering the terms disability and livelihoods and their relationship, barriers and enablers to employment, women and disability, finally touching on the various initiatives by N.C.P.E.D.P. in promoting employment for disabled people.

Baldev Gulati of Nav Prerna, made a presentation on Employment Challenges for disabled people. This was followed by a panel discussion including representatives from Blind Peoples Association School, Ahmedabad, Janarth, TARA, Development Alternatives, National Trust and Muskan. Each of the panelists talked about the various issues on disability dealt by their respective organisations.

In the post lunch session the participants were divided into three groups to have separate deliberations on each of the issues identified and made presentations in the subsequent plenary on outcomes of each group discussion.

Group I on Policy and Advocacy spelt out the need for reservations for all categories of persons with disabilities and advocacy to include mental retardation, multiple disability, haemophilia and leprosy cured as separate categories of job reservation in government and public sectors, more realistic representation in the percentage of job reservation, approach of equal opportunity in job identification, and need for sustained advocacy efforts in formalising incentives for private sector for employing people with disabilities

Group II on Livelihood Options and Choices came out with livelihood options such as self employment and wage employment, and categories of people such as urban and rural, both with different skill sets as well as different employment opportunities. Some recommendations of the group were to promote self employment in rural sector, develop information centres for disabled people at panchayat/district levels, develop market links and sustain strategies for self employment initiatives.

Group III on Scalability, Linkages, Microfinance, Self Help Groups mentioned that the primary feature of scalability is creating module for training and skill development; suggested documentation of existing modules; networking/sharing between organisations; and pointed out the need for a national forum representing all sectors of disability, integration of disabled people in all vocational training institutions, public awareness on finance schemes for people with disabilities, rural banks to be given motivational targets for providing loans to people with disabilities, and National Bank for Agriculture & Rural Development (N.A.B.A.R.D.) to make its regulations flexible to include Self Help Groups of people with disabilities.

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