Kristie Drucza did important research in Nepal on social protection, including on the grants given to persons with disabilities.
Despite the government’s good intentions in funding the disability allowance in Nepal, it remains a problematic cash transfer that can be seen to perpetuate injustices for those with disabilities. If the government chooses to give a disability allowance, even with the limited resources it has, then it should be transparent, equitable and accountable. Weak governance along with Nepal’s politics and discrimination has rendered Nepal’s disability allowance a token charity gesture.
“Fault in the System“, The Kathmandu Post, September 2015
Drucza’s work is great at showing the range of difficulties in the allowance for disabled people, that ends up perpetuating injustices. Read the article for full details. Here I’ve taken the liberty of summarizing the challenges identified:
- It’s not enough money – currently they’re only a few dollars a month.
- There are fixed number of allowances, and it isn’t related to the number of persons with disabilities.
- Less than 10% of persons with disabilities get these grants.
- Getting the allowance is difficult and expensive. You need to travel and register in various places, and this could cost the equivalent of several months’ allowance.
- You’re only eligible depending on what certification of disability you have, and people aren’t made fully aware of this.
- If you know the right people then the decision might be different.
- Some of the decisions are arbitrary, and officials haven’t been trained in how to identify disability.
- The government doesn’t use numbers of disabled people registered to guide policy or planning.
Many of these points could be made in neighbouring contexts, such as Bangladesh or India. The Bangladesh disability allowance seems to have similar problems, but has been growing in both the amount of the grant and the number of people that receive it.
And even once all those problems are sorted out there are more later! It’s really hard to make a grant like this effective in empowering people to participate more. In many countries it turns out that disability allowances discourage people looking for work.