People with disabilities (PWDs) represent a disproportionately high proportion of the world's poor. Recognising the reciprocal relationship between disability and poverty, leading to increased vulnerability and social exclusion, disability has been flagged as a key development issue in meeting the United Nations Millennium Development Goals and in eradicating world poverty. As a consequence, PWDs are increasingly being mainstreamed into government social protection programmes in low- and middle-income countries. However, there has been little evaluation of the effectiveness of these programmes with respect to PWDs. This research evaluates the efficacy of two government social protection programmes for PWDs in Vietnam, including a cash transfer programme and a free health insurance programme.
To understand the multi-dimensional aspects of the efficacy of social protection programmes, the research adopts a mixed methods approach that includes quantitative and qualitative methods of analysis. Rigorous quantitative analysis of national household survey data will be combined with qualitative interviews and focus group discussions with key stakeholders from Government, Disabled People's Organisations, and PWDs and their families, to evaluate the effectiveness of programmes in targeting PWDs and in providing financial protection against poverty.
One primary beneficiary of this proposed research will be policy makers involved with the design of social protection programmes for persons with disabilities (PWDs) in developing countries. By using a case study of Vietnam, the proposed research will provide useful policy lessons and recommendations for the targeting of disability in social protection programmes in developing countries. The various outputs of the research will be disseminated through the participating organisations's global network of partners, including partners DFID and AusAID that are well positioned to promote the work to policy makers in partner country governments. Most importantly, PWDs and their families will benefit from the intended outcomes of this research: accurate targeting and design of social protection programmes that are sensitive to their specific needs. Aside from being the direct beneficiaries of the work, PWDs and their representative organizations, Disabled Peoples Organizations (DPOs), will benefit from the disability-inclusive approach adopted in this research. By actively engaging the voice of PWDs and DPOs in Vietnam, the research will build capacity within the disability community for the creation and consumption of research. The research approach will build a model of best practice that can be used to the benefit of PWDs and DPOs in other countries. Another important beneficiary of this research is bi-lateral donor organizations, such as DFID, AusAID, and GIZ, that are committed to disability-inclusive development and to meeting the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Through its various research outputs, this research will provide guidance to donors on how to advise partner governments in adopting a disability-inclusive approach to the development of social protection policy and programmes for PWDs. This will be an important addition to their existing efforts in disability-inclusive development. Many of the lessons from this research on how to accurately target PWDs and design programmes sensitive to the needs of PWDs will be transferrable to non-government programmes on poverty alleviation, such as cash transfer and micro-finance programmes. The work will therefore be of great interest to the large civil society sector working in the field of disability-inclusive development. Two significant non-government organizations (NGOs) working in the field of poverty alleviation for PWDs, Leonard Cheshire Disability (UK) and Christian Blind Mission (Australia), are closely tied to the partner organizations of this research in the University College London and Nossal Institute for Global Health, respectively. These organizations, in turn, have close relations with, and will help disseminate the findings of this research to, other significant NGOs working in the sector, such as Handicap International and Disabled People's International. As a subpopulation that is prone to chronic poverty and social exclusion, the successful inclusion of PWDs in social protection programmes is perceived as of paramount importance in achieving the MDGs targets. This work will therefore also be of great interest to international policy makers and organizations in the field of social protection. Most notably, these include the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) who has recently launched a major report on social protection in Asia and the Pacific, and the International Labour Organisation which is a long term advocate of social protection. Bringing together three of the leading researchers on social protection and disability in developing countries, this project will provide an important reference for future researchers. Refer to the Academic Beneficiaries section for further discussion.