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Sightsavers from the field

Innovations for disability inclusion

How innovation is improving the lives of people with disabilities through our Inclusive Futures programme

April 2021
Three women at a desk, one is writing on paper.

If we are to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, it is essential that we test new and innovative ways to open up employment opportunities for people with disabilities.

On World Creativity and Innovation Day (21 April), we are highlighting how our Inclusive Futures programme is testing new approaches to improve the lives of people with disabilities.

Empowering farmers

In Homa Bay, Kenya, Inclusive Futures is supporting a group of farmers with disabilities to make a living growing sorghum, a key ingredient in beer. The project equips the farmers with the skills and knowledge to grow the product, which they sell to East African Breweries Ltd, a company that has been working to make its supply chain inclusive of people with disabilities.

Christopher Abuor Okwachu, the group’s secretary, says: “In Homa Bay county, most people with disabilities were not given attention, so we thought of forming this group so we could fight for our interests. We have learned through practice by the mistakes we make.”

Jeniffer is one of the 39 farmers. She says: “Before I started planting sorghum I was a maize farmer for more than 10 years, but I was not getting enough money to eat. I thought maybe this training would help me move from poverty. We were taught how to plant, so we took the seed home and did as we had been instructed.”

Selestine Anyango Odala.

From field to pint

In the new audio report from Inclusive Futures, meet the farmers with disabilities who are leading an inclusive business revolution in Kenya.

Hear the report

Computer skills for young people with disabilities

In Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, Inclusive Futures is trialling a new initiative to equip young people with disabilities in information technology (IT) skills, needed for the jobs of the future. The Bridge Academy, launched in March 2021, is based on a training course that has seen huge success in the US, with over 90% of trainees graduating from the programme and entering employment.

Inclusive Futures saw the opportunity to bring the model to Kenya, where experts predict that technology will become a key driver of the economy. After graduating from the nine-month course, the young people will be set to launch their careers in IT. And as the project continues, IT employers will have an increasing pool of talent to draw from.

“In a post-COVID world, businesses need strong IT systems more than ever,” says Sarah Wang’ombe, Inclusive Futures Programme Officer. “People with disabilities can bring fresh new perspectives as services move online. Employers are also more likely to be flexible and accept remote working. It’s a win-win.”

 

A close-up of a laptop screen showing a Sightsavers Word document.

Digital skills for the next generation

Simon Brown, Sightsavers’ global technical lead for disability-inclusive economic empowerment, shares why he’s so excited to be working on the Bridge Academy.

Read his post

Inclusive education

In Nigeria, Inclusive Futures is developing a model of disability-inclusive education in eight schools with the aim of scaling it up. The SMILE project (Supporting Mainstreaming Inclusion so all can Learn Equally) is strengthening school management committees, which bridge a gap between schools and their local communities.

Working with the community has increased trust in the schools for local families and improved attendance rates among pupils. AA Awokson, head teacher at Wazari Aliyu primary school, says: “The things we have done in the school have encouraged others to come, because once the school tries to encourage them to participate in the classroom, the stories go out, people get to hear about it.

“[Parents] realise that if their children will be given such respect at that school, let’s get them enrolled there. Before this time, many parents would prefer leaving them at home, sending them for begging or things like that.”

“Before this, many children would be left at home”

Christy John Daniel, head teacher of Taka One Model Primary School, has seen the project’s impact in getting more children with disabilities learning and improving their future opportunities. “We use the committee to speak to parents on the importance of children with disabilities to be in school,” Christy says. “That is how we got a number of children with disability back into school. At my school we have sewing machines and we have tools for carpentry. We can teach them vocational and trading skills so they can be self-reliant, and they will not depend on their parents for life.”

For now, SMILE is in its initial stages, but Inclusive Futures will share learnings from the project to help the Nigerian government improve its approach to inclusive education across the country.

The evidence we generate from projects like the farmers’ group, the Bridge Academy and SMILE about how to include people with disabilities in development will be used to encourage and enable organisations to embed disability inclusion in their own work.

To find out more, visit www.inclusivefutures.org/innovation and follow #InclusiveFutures on Twitter and LinkedIn.


UK Aid logo.Inclusive Futures is funded by UK aid. It demonstrates the UK government’s commitment to global leadership on inclusive development by ensuring people with disabilities are central to international development policymaking and programmes.

Learn about Inclusive Futures

Inclusive Futures

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