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Improving the livelihoods of persons with disabilities through income generating activities : Towards more effective and sustainable development projects in Sierra Leone

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Title: Improving the livelihoods of persons with disabilities through income generating activities : Towards more effective and sustainable development projects in Sierra Leone
Author(s): Kallio, Suvi
Contributor: University of Helsinki, Faculty of Arts
Degree program: Master's Programme in Area and Cultural Studies
Specialisation: African and Middle Eastern Studies Track
Language: English
Acceptance year: 2019
Abstract:
Disability and poverty are tightly interlinked, but disability inclusion often remains on the sidelines of poverty reduction programmes. Abilis Foundation supports organisations of persons with disabilities in developing countries, and income generation and poverty reduction projects are one of its key thematic areas. The objective of this study, commissioned by Abilis Foundation, is to evaluate the effectiveness and sustainability of Abilis funded income generation projects in Sierra Leone, and to identify the factors influencing the livelihoods of persons with disabilities in Sierra Leone. The primary data consists of semi-structured interviews and a focus group discussion with adult persons with disabilities who had participated in Abilis funded income generation projects between 2015–2018. Discussions with other relevant informants and data from the project documents were included in the analysis to strengthen the validity of the results. The analysis follows qualitative content analysis principles. All income generating activities supported in the sample projects were still on-going during the time of study, even though most businesses continued to be very small-scale. The results indicate that limited financial assets (resulting in, inter alia, lack of equipment and materials) and strong competition restrain persons with disabilities from expanding their businesses. Social assets and education support their livelihood opportunities but are only useful when other factors enable people to draw on their social and human assets as well. Widespread poverty affects all aspects of life in Sierra Leone, and persons with disabilities are even more vulnerable because they are often socially marginalized and face widespread discrimination that restrains their access to assets and restricts their participation in economic activities, decision-making, and social life in general. It is essential to consider context-specific local characteristics, target beneficiaries, and market dynamics when planning poverty reduction programmes and livelihood activities. Successful poverty reduction efforts must consider aspects beyond mere income generation. Key elements for successful poverty reduction and livelihood programmes include enhancing the opportunities of persons with disabilities to adopt diverse livelihood strategies, empowerment of persons with disabilities to have their voices heard and to gain control in their own lives, and promoting security and appropriate coping mechanisms to reduce vulnerability and to increase their resilience.
Keyword(s): disability poverty livelihoods poverty reduction income generation Sierra Leone


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