Original Research

Development process in Africa: Poverty, politics and indigenous knowledge

Arne H. Eide, Watson Khupe, Hasheem Mannan
African Journal of Disability | Vol 3, No 2 | a75 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ajod.v3i2.75 | © 2014 Arne H. Eide, Watson Khupe, Hasheem Mannan | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 17 July 2013 | Published: 04 June 2014

About the author(s)

Arne H. Eide, SINTEF Technology and Society, Oslo, Norway
Watson Khupe, Muscular Dystrophy Association, Bulawayo, Zimbabwe; Federation of Organizations of Disabled Persons, Bulawayo, Zimbabwe
Hasheem Mannan, Nossal Institute for Global Health, University of Melbourne, Australia


Background: Persons with disability run the danger of not profiting from the development process due to exclusion from basic services and opportunities. Still, the knowledge base on exclusion mechanisms is relatively weak and there is a danger that important aspects are not addressed as they are hidden behind established understandings that are not critically scrutinised.

Objectives: The main purpose of this article was to highlight critical thoughts on prevailing knowledge of the relationship between disability and poverty, the policy base for addressing the rights of persons with disability, and culture as a key component in continued discrimination.

Method: This article aimed at integrating three papers on the above topics presented at the 2011 African Network for Evidence-to-Action on Disability (AfriNEAD) Symposium. The researchers have therefore thoroughly examined and questioned the relationship between disability and poverty, the influence of policy on action, and the role of culture in reproducing injustice.

Results: The article firstly claims that there are limitations in current data collection practice with regards to analysing the relationship between poverty and disability. Secondly, ambitions regarding inclusion of persons with disability in policy processes as well as in implementation of policies are not necessarily implemented in an optimal way. Thirdly, negative aspects of culture in discrimination and bad treatment of disabled need to be highlighted to balance the discussion on disability and culture.

Conclusion: A critical view of prevailing understandings of disability and development is key to producing the knowledge necessary to eradicate poverty amongst persons with disability and other vulnerable groups. Not only do we need research that is actually designed to reveal the mechanisms behind the disability–poverty relationship, we need research that is less tied up with broad political agreements that is not necessarily reflecting the realities at ground level.


Africa; poverty; disability AfriNEAD


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