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Economic Empowerment

Poverty and disability in Uganda are impossible to disentangle. Despite impressive economic gains made by the country in the last 15-20 years. Poverty status Report (2002, UBOS), estimates overall poverty level at 35% (approx. 8.6 million people) of the total population.

The same report further estimates that approximately 80% of persons with disability live in conditions of long-term poverty. This estimation therefore shows that among the poor, 24% (2.1 of 8.6 million people) are people with disability implying that for every four poor person in Uganda, one of them is person with disability.

The Northern Uganda Survey 2004 indicates that 72% of PWDs are poor with men more likely to live in poor households compared to women. The causes of extreme poverty among the disabled are multiple including; lack of access to education for most of the PWDs and for those who access education most of them don’t complete their education especially girls and women, resulting to lack of skills required by the job market. This situation of outright social exclusion of PWDs has constrained them from participation in the job market and other Income Generating Activities.

Whereas the government of Uganda has a National Development Plan providing for a framework for national planning to eradicate poverty, it is not very specific on how PWDs could come out of poverty.


NUDIPU through the Community Based Rehabilitation (CBR) program creates awareness on disability issues and the need for increasing their access to social services at the community level. While NDP recognises the PWDS needs, mainstreaming meaningfully has not happened as planned for all the sectors because of lack of policy and clear strategies to support integration of disability needs and concerns for the specific sectors hence partial progress.

We thus work towards the fulfillment of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) specifically reducing the burden of HIV/AIDS, reducing fertility, maternal and infant mortality. The programme therefore focuses on improving livelihood of PWDs through empowerment in terms of skills and competencies in managing viable income generating activities (IGAs) as well as empowering PWD households to be able to meet their basic needs. The programme area advocates for inclusion of PWDs on economic empowerments programs —NAADS, to enable them utilise available opportunities and increase their participation hence improve their economic capabilities.

The programme supports NDPOs and DUs through strengthening their capacity in IGAs and resource mobilization skills which are passed on to the PWDs they serve. It also lobbies for disability friendly guidelines for such programs.

Goal: Enhanced livelihoods of disabled men and women through an enabling environment where they can realize their potential and participate in wealth creation and development.


a. ‘We can manage’ savings and credit group (SCGs) This project aims at improving the financial situation of people in the communities, and therefore, also important for disabled people. SCGs also tend to reach further down-market than the MFIs. With the microfinance industry in Uganda fast growing, many institutions are located in the urban centres with only a few branches in the rural peripherals hence limiting outreach to a small section of the market prospect.

Although the village savings and credit initiatives are taking root in Uganda there is currently no other actor that has put disability into context to ensure that disabled people join the mobilised groups. This situation has prompted NUDIPU to promote the We Can Manage Savings and Credit Group project that is spearheaded by disabled people.

Launched in August 2009, “We Can Manage” Project gained ground in nine sub counties in the two districts attaining milestones.

Expected results:
  • Access to secure savings and loans for disabled men and women members of “We Can Manage”
  • Active involvement and participation of all categories of disabled WCM members in income generation
  • Strong and sustainable groups established by the WCM project
  • Established partnerships with Village Savings and Loans (VSL) practitioners at national level
  • b. Inclusion of disabled people in microfinance
    This project aims at reducing barriers people with disability experience in accessing financial services from the Microfinance Institutions (MFIs / SACCOs) in Uganda. In a basic survey conducted among 8 branches of 4 prominent MFIs in Uganda covering a period of two years it was established that:

    1. Entrepreneurs with disabilities are an untapped market opportunity for MFIs.
    2. To influence MFIs it is important to understand their business model and team up with key actors from the industry.
    3. PWDS are often misinformed about MFIs’ terms and services and they don’t know how to tap these opportunities.

    Nevertheless, according to the survey, the 8 MFI branches had reported increase in the extension of services to disabled clients from 85 to 167 (96%) in the period under review. Taking the natural growth of the customer base into consideration it is reasonable to indicate that before the project’s interventions, 6.5 out of 1000 clients had disabilities. After the project’s interventions, 10 out of 1000 new clients have disabilities, representing a 50% increase in the intake of clients with disabilities.

    In the beginning of 2010 financial institutions in Uganda did not have disability parameters in their MIS. Therefore no baseline is available for a number of the indicators presented below under this component. The disability variables from the Social Performance Tool for the MFIs as well as the baseline study in 2010 will serve as the baseline for the coming years.

    Expected results:
  • Targeted Microfinance institutions and Savings and Credit Cooperative Associations (SACCOs) reach out to more disabled people
  • Uganda becomes a hub for disability inclusive microfinance
  • c. Farming Partnerships:
    This project aims at increasing mainstreaming of PWDS in government programmes such NAADs.
    According NUDIPU surveys NAADS officers do not know how to include disabled in their interventions and yet did not consult DPOs on this issue

    While the group methodology is employed to identify and fund the intended target group to the programme, it is on record that disabled people seldom associate with the groups due to the underlying stigma attached to disability. This explains why few disabled people actually take part in NAADS programme and even those few who are accessing the services have done it out of their own initiative.

    In the group settings disabled people are estimated to constitute less than 1% of the members although the groups are widely spread across the regions at the lower community level where the biggest number of disabled people reside.

    This is supported by a survey conducted by Gulu Disabled People`s Union and Motivation Africa, where 0.3% of NAADS program in Gulu District where disabled people. The survey could not get updated data because the latest NAADS information system does not collect data on disability

    On the other hand, it is equally hard to identify a single disabled person who is benefiting from the NAADS as a model farmer at the upper community level (parish) in the selected districts although agriculture takes dominance in the economic activities in the districts.

    A baseline survey was conducted late in 2010 in the districts of Tororo and Mayuge. The survey showed that disabled men and women are participating in NAADs and other programmes such as NUSAF. However, there is no deliberate effort seen on ground to document their statistics in such programmes. Interviews with NAADs Coordinators in the four sub counties in Tororo revealed this information.

    The baseline survey further revealed that 69.4 (89 out of 128) disabled men and women had participated in NAADs activities. This participation was in form of trainings, agriculture extension and support supervision of NAADs officials. Nonetheless, 91.7 (116 out of 128) rated themselves as inactive in the programme.

    This revelation is authentic because even those disabled men and women who claimed participation in trainings, agricultural extension and support supervision were few compared to their non disabled counterparts. For example 2.6% (3 out 128) disabled had been supported with improved seeds while 3.4% (4 out of 128) disabled has been supported in marketing. 9.5% (12 out of 128) disabled had been supervised by NAADS staff once every month.

    There was no evidence of how the NAADs programme was tracking and targeting disabled people in their strategies. NAADS Coordinators met during the monitoring work confessed that they did not keep disaggregated data on disabled beneficiaries.

    Although by nature of NAADs programme design vulnerable people such as disabled men and women are target beneficiaries, the baseline survey did not establish any single disabled man or woman involved in agricultural processing to enhance value for their produce

    Only 1.7% (2 out of 128) persons with disabilities were commercial farmers. This implies that commercial farming among disabled is still at low level. 40.0% (51 out of 128) of disabled had enough food at home according to the baseline survey findings. However, this was below their non disabled counterparts.

    Expected results:
  • Increased participation of disabled men and women in National Agricultural Advisory Services (NAADS) and other farming programs at district level.
  • Disabled men women and youth adopting modern farming and value addition practices
  • d. OD youth

    This project is designed to promote access to Education by Youth with disabilities, which is apparently a big challenge for many YWDs. This severely affects their chances of getting employment opportunities. Studies conducted by NUDIPU show that UPE and USE opportunities had benefited the young people without disabilities much more than it had YPWDs.

    Young girls with disabilities were more disadvantaged than the male counterparts in accessing primary education. They also faced sexual abuse. Life skills education was not given to them in an accessible format. The deaf were most disadvantaged in the education system. The blind do not learn mathematics. The YPWDs with physical disabilities are more likely to enrol in school and are also the most likely to dropout.

    The interventions that Government and NGOs have instituted in order to enable YPWDs enjoy their right to education have promoted the education of YPWDs with mild disabilities but have not succeeded to in reducing the access gap between the YPWDs and their counterparts without disabilities.

    This project, therefore, strives to enhance independent living of young disabled women and men in Uganda.


  • Improved access to, and completion rate of, quality education, training and employment for young disabled women and men in target areas, and thus securing their advancement and participation in their communities.
  • Young women and men with disabilities in target areas are self-confident, and able to take charge of their own lives, and improve their living conditions.
  • e. Empowering the YWD movement in Uganda through NUDIPU-Youth
    NUDIPU under its youth umbrella—NUDIDU youth implemented this project aimed at empowering the Youth with Disabilities movement in Uganda. The project ended in 2012 focused on registering YWD to fight for YWD. The project encouraged YWD to advocate for their rights. Furthermore, promoted communication among the Ugandan as well as creating awareness of YWD as workers. The project used the synergy effect created by the Norwegian Association of Disabled (NAD) project ‘Let`s get on board’ benefiting from its staff and activities, but in return providing empowered youth.

    Expected results:

  • By 30/6-2012 NUDIPU-Youth have been empowered through organizing and training Ugandan YWD ready to assist in the fight for YWD

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