Original Research

Exploring the concerns of persons with disabilities in Western Zambia

Shaun Cleaver, Helene Polatajko, Virginia Bond, Lilian Magalhães, Stephanie Nixon
African Journal of Disability | Vol 7 | a446 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ajod.v7i0.446 | © 2018 Shaun Cleaver, Helene Polatajko, Virginia Bond, Lilian Magalhães, Stephanie Nixon | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 02 November 2017 | Published: 29 November 2018

About the author(s)

Shaun Cleaver, School of Physical and Occupational Therapy, McGill University, Canada; and, International Centre for Disability and Rehabilitation, University of Toronto, Canada
Helene Polatajko, Department of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy, University of Toronto, Canada; and, Rehabilitation Sciences Institute, University of Toronto, Canada
Virginia Bond, Social Science Unit, ZAMBART, Zambia; and, Department of Global Health and Development, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, United Kingdom
Lilian Magalhães, Department of Occupational Therapy, Federal University of São Carlos, Brazil
Stephanie Nixon, International Centre for Disability and Rehabilitation, University of Toronto, Canada; and, Rehabilitation Sciences Institute, University of Toronto, Canada; and, Department of Physical Therapy, University of Toronto, Canada; and, Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto, Canada


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Abstract

Background: Understandings of disability are rooted in contexts. Despite the world’s significant contextual diversity, postcolonial power dynamics allow influential actors from the global North to imagine that most people across the global South understand disability in one generalised way. When it informs programmes and services for persons with disabilities in the global South, this imagining of a single generalised view could reduce effectiveness while further marginalising the people for whom the programmes and services were designed.

Objectives: In the interest of better understanding a contextually grounded meaning of disability, we explored the expressed concerns of two organisations of persons with disabilities and their members in Western Zambia.

Method: In this qualitative constructionist study, data collection focused upon life with a disability and services available to persons with disabilities. Data were collected through 39 individual interviews and eight focus group discussions with 81 members of organisations of persons with disabilities. Data were analysed thematically.

Results: The participants’ main expressed concern was poverty. This concern was articulated in terms of a life of suffering and a need for material resources. Participants linked poverty to disability in two ways. Some participants identified how impairments limited resource acquisition, resulting in suffering. Others considered poverty to be an integral part of the experience of disability.

Conclusion: This study contributes to literature on disability theory by providing a contextually grounded account of a particular understanding of disability and poverty. The study also contributes to disability practice and policymaking through the demonstration of poverty as the main concern of persons with disabilities in this context.


Keywords

Global South; Disability policy; Lozi language; Models of disability; Poverty

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