Disability and Poverty in Nigeria
Disability and poverty in Nigeria have a complex relationship. Socioeconomic and structural factors both play a role in understanding the relationship between disability and poverty in the country.

About Disability and Poverty in Nigeria

Nine out of 10 people with disabilities in Nigeria live below the poverty line of $1.90 a day. In addition, employment options are limited in Nigeria, making it difficult for people with disabilities to emerge from poverty. Fortunately, the Inclusion Works initiative works to improve inclusive employment opportunities for people with disabilities in Nigeria. With funding from the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development office of the United Kingdom, the program began in 2018. The program’s deliverables include partnerships with private, public and civil society to influence the inclusion of women and men with disabilities in formal employment.

Disability inclusion also plays an important role in addressing the relationship between disability and poverty. The World Bank has reported that people with disabilities in Nigeria consistently face “stigma, discrimination and barriers to accessing social services and economic opportunities.”

About the Correlation of Disability and Poverty

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, a disability is any condition of the body or mind that makes it more difficult for the person with the condition to participate in certain activities and interact with the world around them. In a critical review that the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development funded, Dr. Nora Groce found that education was a key factor “in determining poverty during adulthood for people with disabilities.” According to one of the studies that the review cited, multidimensional poverty is a reason why children with disabilities frequently do not attend school.

The World Bank states that 1 billion people or 15% of the world population experiences some form of disability. The World Health Organization (WHO) also reports that disability is most prevalent in lower-income countries and that disability and poverty correlate and affect each other.

According to a study that the Journal of Disability Policy Studies published, people have increasingly recognized those with disabilities as a high-risk population for multidimensional poverty. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) characterizes multidimensional poverty as deprivation across the domains of health, education and living standards.

Most Common Disabilities in Nigeria

The interactions between disability and poverty in Nigeria are manifold. However, grassroots and governmental efforts are promoting the goal of poverty alleviation at the national level. The 2020 Situational Analysis provides two different estimates of disability prevalence: either 25 million people or 3.3 million people. However, according to a report from the African Disability Rights Yearbook, the five most prevalent disabilities include visual impairment, hearing impairment, intellectual impairment, physical impairment and communication impairment.

Policy Steps Addressing Disability and Poverty in Nigeria

Policies are alleviating the challenges of Nigerians with disabilities. At the grassroots level, several nonprofits exist to improve quality of life, including the Centre for Citizens with Disabilities and the Disability Rights Advocacy Center. Both organizations reside in Abuja, the capital of Nigeria. They ensure the representation of disability as a human rights and policy issue.

The Centre for Citizens with Disabilities promotes the inclusion, participation and access of people with disabilities in both governmental and non-governmental institutions. Founded in 2002 by David Anyaele, the nonprofit is working towards its mission by funding practical research, disability and human rights education, legal aid and peer support.

The Disability Rights Advocacy Center protects the human rights of people and women with disabilities. It achieves its mission through various implementation projects, including the GIRLS Project and Policy to Practice. The former project promotes disability inclusion for girls with disabilities, linking disability concerns with gender-based and sexual violence. Some of the projects’ accomplishments include a commitment from the media to improve coverage of disability issues. In addition, the project has successfully trained women and girls with disabilities to advocate for improved and inclusive sexual and gender-based violence services.

Policy to Practice and Government Efforts

Policy to Practice ensures that people with disabilities have equal access to justice for human rights complaints. Funded by the European Union, its successes include improved knowledge and skills for disability-inclusive service delivery in sexual and gender-based violence and justice actors. Women and girls with disabilities also have improved knowledge and capacity to seek justice for rights violations.

At the governmental level, laws passed promote disability inclusion. For example, the 2018 Discrimination Against Persons with Disabilities (Prohibition) Act prevents discrimination based on disability. Passed into law in 2019, it also requires a five-year transitional period after which transportation and public buildings must be accessible.

While the relationship between disability and poverty in Nigeria seems intractable, recent indicators at the national level have revealed a more hopeful picture. Hopefully, in time, poverty among those with disabilities in Nigeria will reduce.

– Ozi Ojukwu
Photo: Flickr