Discrimination and lack of accessibility means that disability often leads to poverty, at the same time as poverty often leads to disability.
Widespread poverty is a fundamental reason why persons with disabilities are not guaranteed their rights. Poverty also prevents people from making demands that give them access to care, aids, education and employment. Working with disability issues is therefore an effective way to increase participation and reduce poverty.
Poverty includes a person's ability to eat a full diet and avoid malnutrition, to have access to clean drinking water and thus avoid illness, the right to go to school, the opportunity to receive medical care and to have influence over their own life and its future. And the right to feel safe. Persons with disabilities are often denied many of these rights.
The World Bank's definition of whether a person lives in extreme poverty is set when a person's income is less than the equivalent of $ 1.9 a day. The figure takes into account the general price level in each individual country and is a kind of minimum measure of what is required for a person to be able to survive. Another way to measure poverty is to study how many are forced to go malnourished. In today's world, one in nine people is still expected to go hungry.
There is a clear link between poverty and disability. Disability tends to lock people into poverty, and poverty is in turn a strong contributing factor to disability.
At the same time as many countries have undergone positive economic development with reduced poverty, the gaps between individuals and groups have widened. This is an inequality that is often based on factors such as gender, age, ethnicity, economic or social status - and disability.
People who are poor are at greater risk of developing various forms of disabilities due to poor healthcare, malnutrition, lack of access to clean water and functioning toilets. The fact that people who are poor live in dangerous environments and work under dangerous working conditions also increases the risk of disabilities. Poverty often forces people to live in poorer housing and close to dangerous traffic, which increases the risk of, for example, falling victim to traffic accidents. Poorer houses and fewer opportunities for protection also mean that conflicts and natural disasters hit the poorest hardest. This means another increased risk of suffering from a disability.
Malnutrition among pregnant women and young children risks leading to delayed development and increased risk of disability in children. For example, vitamin A deficiency causes between 250,000 and 500,000 children to go blind each year (UNICEF). Something that can be easily remedied with the help of cheap supplements of vitamin A.
Disability can also lead to malnutrition. This happens when the family does not prioritize a person with a disability as much as the other family members at the dining table and when a person with a disability does not always get the help they need to eat. In addition, a disability can lead to subsequent health problems for the person in question. This can happen when families for various reasons do not allow a relative to leave the home, which hampers the person's physique and general development.
A number of institutions, including the World Bank, have pointed to the fact that what is done to reduce poverty in the world rarely or never reaches persons with disabilities. Therefore, it is important to pay attention to the clear link between poverty and disability.
Today, hundreds of millions of persons with disabilities are denied their right to education and work, their right to participate in the democratic process and their right to be seen and respected as human beings and citizens. Many people end up in a position of dependence which means an increased exposure to abuse, discrimination and violations of human rights.
To reduce this vulnerability, development assistance and other change work need to be adapted based on the needs of persons with disabilities so that these groups are included and made visible.