DUSHANBE, June 20, 2011 – Nine organizations serving thousands of disabled children and adults are winners of the 2011 Civil Society Fund Program, the World Bank Tajikistan Country Office announced today. The Civil Society Fund Program seeds and supports activities that enable citizens’ groups to serve society and influence local development. The activities of grant winners strengthen mechanisms for inclusion, accountability, participation, and partnership with public sector, civil society organizations, and the private sector.
The main theme of this year’s Civil Society Fund Program in Tajikistan is "Promoting the Civic Engagement of People with Disabilities". By choosing this theme, the World Bank in Tajikistan aims to contribute to the protection of civic and legal rights of the disabled people, and promote their voice and participation in the affairs of the state and their communities.
In the first report in forty years on global disability, the World Bank and World Health Organization found that over one billion people are living with some form of disability. Due to social stigmas, discrimination, and inadequate access to social services, they experience poorer health, lower education, fewer economic opportunities and comparatively higher rates of poverty than people without disabilities.
According to data from the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection (MOLSP), the total number of disabled persons in Tajikistan was over 150,000 by end of 2010, which is 12,000 higher than in 2005. This upward trend is causing serious concern on the part of the Government of Tajikistan and organizations working with this group. Furthermore, according to the MOLSP, the number of disabled children under the age of 16 grew from under 14,000 in 2005 to over 20,000 in 2010.
At present, according to organizations working with the disabled, people with disabilities in Tajikistan appear to be an isolated group, largely distant from the political, economic and social life of the nation and their local communities. In addition, the psychological traumas that disabled people may experience often undermine confidence in their own capacity and power. It is thus critical to make positive use of the aspirations, skills and capacities of disabled people.
To make this possible, all stakeholders recognize the need for reforming social protection and social engagement systems for the disabled, protecting their basic rights, promoting their equality, engaging them in society, and encouraging higher tolerance towards people with disabilities among the society at large. Civil society plays an important role in supporting and promoting these positive changes.
In line with this priority theme and the program criteria, the following public organizations have been awarded grant funding under the Civil Society Fund Program 2011 for a total amount of around USD 54,000:
- Tajik Center of Social and Legal Support of Women and Adolescents “Femida”, Dushanbe. The project on “Legal and Social Support of People with Disabilities” aims to provide access to legal and social assistance for people with disabilities through trainings and consultations on legal and social protection issues. The activities will be covered in mass media in different formats and a round table will be held with stakeholders to discuss the access of people with disabilities to legal and social assistance. The project coverage area includes Dushanbe, the city of Vakhdat, Hissor and Rudaki rayons.
- Public Organization “Hamdilon’, Dushanbe. The project “Adults for the future of children with disabilities” aims to provide for engagement and networking of the relatives of children with mental disabilities, creation of a self-help group, and application of art therapy approaches for children to be able to express their emotions through painting. By these activities, the project will help to provide for better engagement of the target group and fight the stigma and discrimination against children with mental disabilities. The project coverage area includes Dushanbe.
- Public Organization “Merosi Ajam”, Khorog, GBAO. The project “Civil Society Development” will promote the civic engagement of people with disabilities through a comprehensive approach involving all parts of society. The project will establish a database of people with disabilities to be provided to public and private sector organizations for social assistance; raise awareness of people with disabilities about relevant legislation; and work with civil society and the public sector to promote the interests and legal and civic rights of the disabled people. The project coverage area includes Roshtkala district of Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Oblast (GBAO).
- Foundation of Aid For Disabled Children “Neki”, Dushanbe. The project on “Promoting the Education and Inclusion of Disabled Children and Their Families” will offer an accessible education program delivered both at the Neki center and in children’s homes, including basic skills, education, and development of confidence and self-esteem. The project will deliver seminars to parents of disabled children on their rights, child development and caring for their child, and will set up a parent support group. The project coverage area includes Dushanbe.
- Public Organization “Sadoqat”, Istravshan, Soghd Oblast. The project “Center of Information Services” aims to promote the awareness of people with disabilities in remote rural areas of the Soghd region of Tajikistan about the healthcare and social protection services in their area, thus facilitating their access to these services, and promoting their more active engagement in the decisions pertaining to basic social services. Through these activities, the project intends to contribute to improved well-being and civic engagement of the disabled people in the target area. The project coverage area includes the city of Istavshan of Soghd Oblast.
- Public Organization “Shoto”, Isfara, Soghd Oblast. The project “Opportunities, rights and attention” aims to promote civic engagement and facilitate the access of young people with disabilities to social services. It will achieve this objective by creating a platform for discussion in local communities, training the disabled in leadership skills, and facilitating engagement of the target group in decision-making processes. Throughout the project it will build partnerships with local authorities. The project coverage area includes the cities if Isfara and Kanibadam of Soghd Oblast.
- Public Organization “Special Olympics Tajikistan”, Dushanbe.The project on “Creating Equal Rights and Opportunities for Disabled Children” aims to change the attitude of society at large towards people with mental and physical disabilities through promoting equal rights and opportunities for disabled people and their social integration. Training seminars will be held under the project and materials promoting equal opportunities and better engagement of the disabled will be printed and disseminated. The project coverage area includes Dushanbe and Khujand.
- Public Organization “Zarshedabonu”, Kulob, Khatlon Oblast. The project “Disability is not a disease” aims to further the social integration of children with disabilities through inclusive educational and cultural activities that include both children with and without disabilities. The project also intends to involve parents into the project and produce booklets promoting tolerance towards people with disabilities for dissemination among the population at large in the target area. The project coverage area includes the city of Kulob and 4 jamoats in the vicinity of Kulob in the Khatlon Oblast.
- Public Charity Organization “Zdorovie”, Dushanbe. The project “United for Children” will scale up best practices of inclusive approaches to education and social engagement of disabled children. The project is expected to join forces of teachers and active parents of children with disabilities in diseminating and replicating the experience and knowledge on the rights of children with disabilities to inclusive education. A communication campaign will be implemented to raise awareness of the public and the authorities of Dushanbe on related issues. The project coverage area includes 6 schools in 4 districts of Dushanbe.
“These projects, covering all regions of the country, in cities and rural areas, provide excellent examples of how civil society serves an important function in social development”, said Marsha M. Olive, World Bank Country Manager for Tajikistan. “Not only will the projects benefit the citizens of Tajikistan. They will contribute ideas to our global knowledge of how to improve the lives of people with disabilities all over the world.”
The World Bank Office in Tajikistan has been allocating grants to civil society organizations under the Civil Society Funds Program (formerly known as Small Grants Program) since 2002 when the program was first launched in Tajikistan. Within ten years of program activity in Tajikistan, local civil society organizations have received over USD364,000 for seventy-seven projects covering a broad range of activities aimed at civic engagement of the most marginalized and vulnerable groups.