Disability Situation & Impact of ADD work in Bangladesh

Action on Disability and Development (ADD), Bangladesh. Internet publication URL: www.independentliving.org/docs6/uddin200309.html

by Salah Uddin,
Action on Disability and Development (ADD), Bangladesh, Septmeber 2003

Bangladesh is a poor 3rd world country where 80 percent people living below poverty, according to World Health Organization about ten percent people of our country are disabled. Disabled people, especially disabled women and girls, are almost invariably among the poorest, most oppressed and excluded members of the society. One of the main problems faced by disabled people is the negative attitude of the society to them. Negative attitudes, environmental and institutional barriers have made them vulnerable and neglected class of the society

From family to state every where disabled children and adults are excluded from their social, political, and economic rights. Furthermore disabled adults and children are often excluded from development work. Society have been seen their problem primarily from the medical or welfare perspective. In fact their needs and priorities are not addressed same as those of other members of their communities.

In rural Bangladesh PWDs are not call by their name, further more many superstition and negative attitude made the life of Disabled people tremendously painful.

ADD & its work in Bangladesh:

Action on Disability and Development (ADD) is a right based development international organization supporting organization of disabled people to campaign for equal rights and to ensure social justice. ADD views disability as a human rights or social issue related to attitude and access to equal opportunities and resists definitions which relates to impairment of an individual .i.e, the social model of disability and opposed to the medical model. ADD works in 13 countries in Asia and Africa.

In Bangladesh ADD started working in 1995. At Present ADD implementing its program in 12 districts of Bangladesh. ADD organizes disabled people in the grassroots level, support disabled people organization and encourage mainstream NGOs to work with disabled people. ADD played important role in Bangladesh to strengthen disability movement.

ADD believe in self-help, rather than charity and hand-outs, and, wherever possible, work with existing organizations of disabled people and establish partnership agreement. ADD chooses to work to support organizations who have a rights-based approach to development and share common values.


ADD believes that all people have the same fundamental rights to determine their own futures and control decisions that affect their lives, and all people have the same rights to: enough food and clean water, education, a home and relationships, livelihood, mobility safety influence recreation, health care.

Aims of ADD:

  • To enable rights –based organizations of disabled people to become self-sustaining, effective, democratic and representative membership organizations, able to carry out their work and to actively promote the rights of all disabled adults and children to full inclusion in the society.
  • To work with disability rights organizations to influence policy makers to include the rights and needs of disabled people in all their work and to encourage them to allocates for this.

ADD has number of objectives as bellow that contribute to each of our aims –

  • To Support Disability Rights Organizations in developing effective membership structures, decision-making and information exchange processes.
  • To enable disabled people organization at district, national, regional and international levels to link up and lobby effectively for their rights and for inclusion in democratic processes, services and facilities from government, business and civil society and to challenge the causes of their oppression and poverty
  • To enable organization to gain information, skills, organizational capacity and funding.
  • To encourage the most marginalized disabled people to form and join organization to advocate for their rights.
  • To work with national and international disability rights organization to promote the rights of all disabled people and to support the African and Asia-pacific decades and other international initiatives
  • To support organizational in campaigning for legal protection against discrimination and to enable disabled people to realize their rights and exercise their responsibilities as cover, for example, by national legislation or in the UN standard rules.
  • To work with organization to enable them in developing plans to influence government policy makers, the private sector, development agencies, faith groups and NGO’s to adapt an inclusive approach to existing services, decision making process and civic opportunities.
  • To use the experience gained from working with disabled people’s organization to influence international development policy to be inclusive of disabled people at national and international levels.
  • To facilitate disabled peoples involvement in decision-making about poverty eradication programs, services and activities designed to benefit them

To achieve Aim & Objectives we do many activities like--

  • Organize disabled people .
  • Form union,district and national federations through democratic process
  • Support DPOs/federations at the union, district and national level providing grants and training
  • Provide training to self-help groups:
  • Build capacity of federations and DPO leaders .
  • support Federations / DPOs in effective information exchange process.
  • Assist DPOs to co-ordinate issue based activities and organize meetings to promote the DRM.
  • Build capacity of DPOs/Federations to link up each other through Coordination meeting at union, district & national level.
  • Assist to build capacity of DPOs/ SHGs in organizing Workshop & seminar with Government agencies, Business sector, local government, & civil society.
  • Stimulate DPOs to identify and analysis the issues and incidence of oppression
  • Disseminate information about oppression among the DPOs &campaign against oppression.
  • Linkage with civil society, GO and NGOs to take collective action against oppression.
  • Trained National DPOs coordination committee on Advocacy &Lobbing
  • Assist DPOs in developing constitution, Policy guide line &registration process.
  • Provide Organizational Development training to the DPOs/ Federation.
  • Provide Fund Raising Training to the DPos.
  • Assist DPOs/ Federation to make linkage with the Donor organizations.
  • Assist DPOs to develop a policy to ensure participation of disabled women and children
  • Media advocacy to promote equal opportunities of disabled people.
  • Campaign & publicity on Asia decade on Disability.
  • Awareness raising campaign by DPOs on disability policy and law and protection of disability rights
  • DPOs advocate at the district & National level for amendment and implementation of disability law and policy
  • Monitor implementation of disability law and UN standard rules and violation of disabled people’s rights
  • Campaign for implementation of disability law.
  • Campaign against discrimination.
  • Lgal aid support to oppressed disabled women
  • Meeting with District disability coordination meeting.
  • Influence to increase allocation for disabled people in National Budget: budget analysis and advocacy, campaign,
  • Medea advocacy / Publication to accelerate the inclusive policy formulation by the government and private sector.
  • Raise citizens’ awareness on voting rights of disabled people in local government and parliament elections
  • Assist DPO leaders to stand for election in local government .
  • Influence Bangladesh Disability Foundation & Social Development Foundation to support DPOs
  • Campaign for people-centered policy of micro credit of Banks and MFIs that include PWDs
  • Training on small business and credit

Impact of ADD work

1995 to 2003 total 9 years, though it is not very long time for change but ADD’s work has created big vibration in disability movement in Bangladesh. In our working area the Disabled people have gained self-respect and dignity with an assertive personality. The PWDs previously a burden to their families is now earning their own and some are even contributing to family incomes. Radical change has occurred in the attitudes toward them of their families and of the wider community. Schools have opened up to welcome Disabled children for school education. Government officials are treating them with respect and are eager to help them with their problems and petitions relating to government service. The media highlighting the achievements of the work both by way of inspiring individual stories and reports on their bid for their rights.

The Federation of PWDs are now a powerful force in the villages. They successfully fighting for justice.

we have many instances where the PWDs have been a big source of moral and social support for the families and the communities. Our work has brought a complete change in the attitude and mindset of the families, the community and society towards the PWDs and a change in the mindset of the PWDs themselves.

PWDs are today very aware of their strengths and have the courage to fight for their rights. There has been a significant increase in their capacity in terms of knowledge and skill. The society and the government officials recognize their leadership qualities. The Disabled persons could draw a lot of strength from each other in the self-help groups and a strong bond of solidarity

As a result of our work family members have now very positive attitude towards PWDs. they do not considered as a burden, special care is now taken by the family for their education, nutrition and health care. In most cases they are given a rightful place within the family setup.

In the group level democratic decision-making processes are fowling & groups have members with good leadership qualities. Most of the groups adopt the problem-solving approach, trying to identify the root cause of a problem and then seeking solutions.

The community people now realized the potential of the PWDs and thinking them as productive persons.

The communities are highly appreciative of the knowledge, skill and leadership qualities of PWDs

The government authorities are now changing attitude regarding PWDs and have recognized the fact that they need special attention and special . in last Parliament election 300 PWDs observed election and it was highly appreciated by the government and media. 5 PWDs organized a wheel chair march from Kushtia demanding legislation for disabled people and crossing 300 KM they meet the speaker of the parliament. The Wheel chair march exhilarated the demand of the disability act and in 2001 a law has passed in the parliament.

In the last local government election ADD supported federation in participating the election, total 80 PWDs compete in the election and out of them 16 PWds elected as member , it was a milestone of the disability rights movement in Bangladesh.

ADD started work in Kushtia and formed 6 federation , It was a little drop in the pond , gradually the weave of the movement has got a momentum . Now 20 Federations in 12 districts are growing as a collective force to start disability movement to find their won way of establish the rights in the society. A national level DPO coordination committee has formed and each month they are sitting together to find the issues relating the disability movement. The time will come when 13 million PWDs of Bangladesh will get their rights as a human being. They voice of Disabled people “ nothing us with out us” raising by the dedicated leaders of federation.