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African Policy on Disability & Development


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A-PODD (African Policy on Disability and Development) was a three-year qualitative research project, funded by a €500,000 research grant from the Health Research Board/Irish Aid. A-PODD was led by Prof Malcolm MacLachlan, Centre for Global Health and School of Psychology, Trinity College Dublin.   The Centre for Global Health’s primary coordinating partners on this project were Ms. Gubela Mji at the Centre for Rehabilitation Studies, Stellenbosch University and Mr. Kudakwashe Dube at The Secretariat of the African Decade for Persons with Disabilities, South Africa.

This research investigated the need for disability to be included on the agenda of national and international development initiatives. It aimed to document and analyse the factors that contribute to realising the rights of disabled people, promote their health and well-being and release their economic potential, with government strategies aimed at poverty alleviation.  It focused on how research evidence can be utilised to inform the policy environment (such as PRSPs and SWAps), and development institutions (such as the IMF, World Bank and WHO).  The research also focused on less formal local, community and grass-roots decision-making and inclusion efforts.  

A-PODD undertook four country-case studies:  

    Sierra Leone, a country emerging from conflict that resulted in many people being disabled;

    Malawi and Uganda, the only two African countries that have Ministries for people with disabilities;

    Ethiopia, the second most populous country in Africa, with significant geographical barriers and a highly dispersed population, presenting significant challenges to the inclusion of people with disability. 

The disabled people in Africa constitute a valuable resource for economic growth, if this economic potential can be realised.  Key to this is their access to healthcare, education and housing.  In addition to promoting innovative redistribute policies, the project sought to involve disabled people as part of the economic solution to achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), particularly poverty reduction. 

Recently, the approach to disability has changed dramatically from a charitable, paternalistic and biomedically-based ‘caring-for’ approach. This approach recognises the human rights of disabled people and their need for advocacy and empowerment, in order to fully participate and be included in society. 

A comparative analysis informed the disability policy within the region. Factors which restrict or facilitate these policies were identified along implementation pathways, as were local means and mechanisms of addressing them. Country reports were discussed at the concluding workshop to which governments, civil society, donors, researchers and others were invited. A code of best practice wes drawn up for Moving Evidence to Action on African Disability Policy.

The A-PODD (African Policy for Disability and Development) website has now been established (  There is an interactive function on the A-PODD website and we would be pleased if you would like to 'post' any comments or suggestions. The public may register on this website, so we will have a database of users that we can communicate with also


Post-Doctoral Research Fellows (based in Stellenbosh University): 

Dr. Margaret Wazakili (

Dr. Tsitsi Chataika (

Project Co-Ordinator: (based in Trinity College Dublin): 

Mrs. Marcella Maughan


For further information on this research project please contact Prof. Mac MacLachlan


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Last updated 23 November 2016 School Web Administrator (Email).