Self-help group helps persons with disabilities — Nakhro
MoU signed NSRLM and office of State Commissioner for PwDs
Kohima, June 27 (EMN): The self-help group (SHG) movement has become an effective strategy for poverty alleviation and social mobilisation, particularly among the disabled community, said State Commissioner for persons with disabilities (PwDs), Diethono Nakhro.
She said this during the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between Nagaland State Rural Livelihoods Mission (NSRLM) and office of the State Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities for support in the strategic strengthening of PwDs, in Kohima on Monday.
“Society’s treatment of disabled people breeds isolation and loneliness. The isolation is not by choice but due to lack of opportunities and options. Community groups like SHGs can help disabled people build relationships within the group and also in the wider community, and in the process help build their confidence and independence,” she said.
Citing studies that were carried out in areas where SHGs for disabled people have been successfully implemented, she said it showed SHGs can be very effective in helping persons with disabilities come out of isolation and drive their participation and inclusion in society.
The studies revealed that when asked about the reason for joining the SHGs, about 70% respondents said they did to make friends with other disabled people.
“Livelihood opportunities is, of course, a very important component, but today I want to underline the social interaction opportunities that SHGs provide because the social isolation that many disabled people experience is very poorly understood, and in fact very rarely discussed in our society,” Nakhro pointed out.
People who live with disabilities are more likely to live in poverty than persons without disabilities due to barriers in society such as stigma and discrimination, inaccessible environments, limited access to education and employment, and lack of inclusion in livelihood and other social programmes, she said.
Disability accentuates poverty because the systemic institutional, environmental and attitudinal barriers that PwDs encounter in their daily lives result in their entrenched social exclusion and their lack of participation in society, she added.
She also noted that women with disabilities face significantly more difficulties- first because of existing gender biases, and second because of the barriers they encounter due to their disability. This places disabled women and girls at higher risk of gender-based violence, sexual abuse, neglect, and exploitation, particularly girls and women with psychosocial disabilities.
More than 29k PwDs in Nagaland
‘According to Census 2011, the figure of people with disabilities is 29,631 (or 1.5% of the total population) in Nagaland. But it must be made clear that this is a very conservative figure. There will be thousands more living with different kinds of disabilities in the state,’ Nakhro said.
“The harsh truth is that when it comes to disability, the situation has been disgracefully bad for a very long time. There’s no way to sugarcoat the fact that there was huge neglect through the years, and of course, we have to be very clear here that it’s not only about the government – it’s our society as a whole that has failed the disabled community,” she observed.
Meanwhile, she said the awareness is improving and changes are beginning to take place; all measures are being taken to ensure that the provisions of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (RPwD) Act 2016 and the laws are strictly implemented in the state, but there is much to be done to build a truly inclusive society.
On the project (MoU), she said it is a first of its kind and is a significant initiative towards supporting people with disabilities to enable them to live their lives with dignity, while also raising awareness and promoting acceptance of disabilities in the larger community.
Joint Secretary and Mission Director of NSRLM, Imtimenla informed that under the Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana-NRLM (DAY-NRLM), inclusive approach is adopted wherein the vulnerable sections including elderly and destitute, PwDs, widows, and orphans, are identified to help them access their rightful entitlements as well as encourage them to form SHGs.
“We must not forget that the vulnerable can come out of their vulnerability as they have innate capabilities, and we just need to nurture those capabilities. It is for this reason that the NSRLM, while making the Annual Action Plan, has specifically proposed for MoU signing with organisations and agencies,” she said.
Currently, there are 765 exclusive elderly SHGs and 59 exclusive SHGs of PwDs under the mission, while many are also part of the mainstream SHGs.
‘The MoU will be for a period of 12 months initially and it will be piloted in four Model Blocks — Jakhama, Chumoukedima, Longleng, and Wokha. The pilots are selected for target interventions and an implementation framework will be developed by both partners upon signing of the MoU so that the activities can begin immediately in the targeted blocks,’ she informed.
‘To achieve the objective of comprehensive development of these sections, the staff along with the network of SHGs in the villages and village level organisation will be involved in intensive facilitation for mobilisation, identification, capacity building, financial inclusion, livelihoods accessibility and access to rights and entitlements. Resources will be pooled from within NSRLM and through convergence efforts,’ she added.
With the partnership, she expressed hope of facilitating the vulnerable community towards a meaningful life.
State Programme Manager-SISD, NSRLM, Khriezovonuo Lhoungu informed the collaboration was initiated in 2019 but was delayed due to the pandemic.
Indian Sign Language Interpreter, Ruokuokhrienuo Vizotha was the interpreter for the event.