The Ford Foundation and VNAH Collaborate to Support People with Disabilities in Central Highlands and Phu Cat
In September 2008, the Ford Foundation provided VNAH a two-year grant to support people with disabilities in Phu Cat district of Binh Dinh province, and Sa Thay district and Kon Tum town of Kon Tum province in Central highlands. Phu Cat was identified as one of three “hot-spots” severely contaminated by Agent Orange/Dioxin used during the war.
The project adopted a comprehensive rehabilitation approach aimed at improving the health, social, and economic conditions of people with disabilities living at the project sites. Specifically, the project works to improve the capacity of district/communal health service providers so they can provide quality community-based rehabilitation services to beneficiaries, support beneficiaries and families to improve economic and living conditions, support the formation of self-help groups and parent’s groups, and support local partners to mainstream disability into government plans and budgets.
In just one year, the project has provided services to 400 persons with disabilities (PWD), out of the target 700. Services included: rehabilitation services, assistive devices (wheelchairs and artificial limbs), and support for home improvement/renovation, and leadership training. VNAH is working to provide support in skills training, employment, and income generation.
Key to fulfilling this project’s goals is establishing a network of 36 community-based rehabilitation (CBR) facilitators who will participate in the project on a voluntary basis providing home-based rehabilitation services and acting as liaisons to connect beneficiaries to available resources and services. The CBR facilitators are the government’s social and health workers operating at the grass-root level. In addition to the CBR network, the project built one new rehabilitation clinic and renovated two others to serve beneficiaries in several surrounding communes. Health workers at these centers and the CBR facilitators involved in this program received expert training from regional institutions and the national university. A 150-page training manual was developed specifically for this training.
To ensure the project’s sustainability, local resources are expected to be increased significantly. This is in part the result of the local authorities’ effective enforcement of the National Action Plan (NAP) for persons with disabilities (Decision 239). The NAP mandated local authorities to develop concrete plans and to allocate human and financial resources for activities benefiting PWDs. Local NAP resources will gradually be phased in to support the various project initiatives.
VNAH supported Kon Tum DOLISA to design the provincial NAP for the period from 2010-2015, with a budget of 58 billion VND ($3million), half of which comes from government allocations. The Binh Dinh provincial government approved its NAP in early 2008, allocating an annual budget of VND500 million ($30,000) for skills training and employment. The plan, however, has not yet been implemented. VNAH is working with local partners to implement the plan in the Phu Cat District.