Original Research

Community-based workers’ capacity to develop inclusive livelihoods for youth with disabilities in Botswana

Ermien van Pletzen, Bryson Kabaso, Theresa Lorenzo
African Journal of Disability | Vol 10 | a851 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ajod.v10i0.851 | © 2021 Ermien van Pletzen, Bryson Kabaso, Theresa Lorenzo | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 10 February 2021 | Published: 09 December 2021

About the author(s)

Ermien van Pletzen, Academic Development Programme, Centre for Higher Education Development, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa
Bryson Kabaso, Division of Disability Studies, Department of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa; and, Department of Prosthetics and Orthotics, Princess Marina Referral Hospital, Gaberone, Botswana
Theresa Lorenzo, Division of Disability Studies, Department of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa

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Background: Youth with disabilities encounter multiple barriers to livelihood opportunities and socio-economic inclusion. Research focusing on identifying and evaluating evidence-based strategies that may facilitate their transition into socio-economic participation is limited.

Objectives: The study undertook to contribute knowledge and evidence to inform inclusive socio-economic development of youth with disabilities and capacitation of community-based workers engaged in implementing the livelihood component of community-based rehabilitation programmes advocating for inclusive development.

Method: This qualitative exploratory case study used the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health: Children & Youth Version to analyse community-based workers’ knowledge and experience of the rural and peri-urban communities in which they worked in Botswana. It further analysed their activities, strategies and recommendations in response to environmental factors impacting the livelihood opportunities of youth with disabilities. Data were generated through semi-structured interviews, following a life history and phenomenological approach. Data were analysed inductively using thematic content analysis.

Results: Community-based workers showed sufficient knowledge and experience of barriers and enablers in health, education and training, social development, employment and governance that facilitated or obstructed access to livelihood opportunities for youth with disability. Identifying more barriers than enablers, community-based workers adopted innovative strategies to sustain and strengthen their practices and activities in the livelihoods domain. They contributed recommendations, mainly aimed at government.

Conclusion: Community-based workers have the capacity to provide valuable evidence and design strategy to facilitate the socio-economic inclusion of youth with disabilities. They are particularly adept at intervening at local levels but do not have sufficient confidence or capacity to mobilise supportive community structures or to exert influence at the level of policy formulation, decision-making and implementation.


disability; youth; livelihoods; sustainable development; community-based rehabilitation; community development workers; environmental factors; Africa


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