People with disabilities


Around 24000 people with and without disabilities receive physiotherapy services, and about 16000 receive assistive devices from SCA physical rehabilitation centers every year.

Disability Context

Afghanistan’s perilous context and conditions for health care, including the ongoing violence and conflicts, land mines, congenital disabilities, and malnutrition, are the key contributors to high rates of disability. The severe disability prevalence rate among adults increased from 2.7% in 2005 to 13.9% in 2019, whereas the prevalence rate of disability among children increased from 6.6% in 2005 to 17.3 % in 2019[1].

However, all surveys examining disability consistently conclude that persons with disabilities have lower access to services and are more exposed and vulnerable to external threats, rendering them less resilient. A 2019 report on the human rights status of people with disabilities in Afghanistan found that individuals with disabilities in Afghanistan are still deprived of their fundamental human rights and fall short in education opportunities, right to rehabilitation, access to health services and employment opportunities. Girls and women with disabilities are at a more significant disadvantage than their male counterparts[2].

The humanitarian crisis in the wake of regime changes in 2021 followed by sanctions imposed by the international communities has further exacerbated the pre-existing vulnerabilities of persons with disability. A recent survey[3] reveals that of the estimated 24.4 million Afghans who need urgent humanitarian support, over two million live with severe disabilities. Large households with members with disability experience additional deprivations related to access to education, indebtedness, and material poverty. These households are engaged in emergency coping mechanisms that may hinder their future resilience, suggesting a clear need to target livelihood assistance at HHs with a member with a disability. It is harder for children and adults with disabilities to access basic survival needs such as health and rehabilitation, education and social security. In these scenarios, Civil society actors must play an influential role in engaging political actors and donors to help adopt policies and implement plans for disability inclusion.

About Disability Programme of SCA

The disability programme of SCA implements a holistic programme to promote active participation of and full inclusion of persons with disabilities in all the organization’s structures and programs by adopting a twin-track approach. Three significant areas of DP include comprehensive community-based rehabilitation, institutional-based physical rehabilitation, human resource development and promoting the rights of persons with disabilities. The Programme meets the specific needs of persons with disabilities through its physical rehabilitation and systematically includes them in health, education, and rural development programs. The programme also extends preparatory education and livelihood services to persons with disabilities to enable them to become contributing members of society.  Attitudinal and physical barriers faced by persons with disabilities are addressed by sensitizing stakeholders on the rights and potentiality of persons with disabilities and improving need-based physical access to all its infrastructure and programming.  Considering cultural obstacles for women with disabilities, SCA includes them in its programming. Active participation of men and women with disabilities is ensured by consulting them in programme planning and monitoring. The organization of persons with disabilities (OPDs/DPOs) are promoted and supported to sensitize their members and advocate for their rights and entitlements. The entire process helps to mainstream disability in all programs of SCA and, at the same time, promote and protect their rights.

Community Based Rehabilitation

The Disability Programme of SCA operates from a Community-Based Rehabilitation (CBR) perspective of the World Health Organization for rehabilitation, equalization of opportunities, poverty reduction, and social inclusion of people with disabilities’ (ILO, UNESCO & WHO, 2004).  The comprehensive CBR programs of the organization include five sub-components: social integration, employment support, special and inclusive education, physical rehabilitation services and capacity & institutional development. The programme is planned and coordinated by the disability programme unit based in Kabul and implemented from five regional offices in Mazar-e-Sharif, Ghazni, Wardak, Taloqan and Jalalabad in 14 provinces covering 59 districts. The activities under the programme include awareness-raising and mobilizing the community, home-based therapy, psychosocial support, home-based education, center-based preparatory education, mainstream children with disabilities in regular schools, vocational training, interest-free revolving loan, recreation activities, organizing and sensitizing people with disabilities at the community level, and supporting organization of persons with disabilities and Self-Help Groups to advocate for their rights.

Physical Rehabilitation

SCA sincerely makes a sincere effort to improve the mobility and functions of persons with disabilities by providing physical rehabilitation services. Around 24000 people with and without disabilities receive physiotherapy services, and about 16000 receive assistive devices from SCA physical rehabilitation centers every year

Human Resource Development

SCA has been striving hard to contribute to the country’s shortage of human resources for physical rehabilitation. 98 physiotherapists (53 Women) from 14 provinces have completed Diploma in Physiotherapy training from SCA training centers, of which 75% are already deployed and providing quality physiotherapy services. Another batch of 46 students (25 Women) are continuing their diplomas and are expected to graduate by October 2022. Similarly, SCA trained 20 prosthetics and orthotics technicians for three years, of which 85% were employed in different government and non-government organisations to provide prosthetic and orthotic services to needy people. The entire programme was implemented in a consortium between HI, SCA and NAC with the support of the European Union.

Promoting Rights of persons with disabilities

The DP programme promotes the rights of persons with disabilities by building the capacities of Organisations of Persons with Disabilities (OPDs). To further deepen the rights movement at the grassroots level, facilitate the establishment of self-help persons with disabilities to unite them and link them with OPDs. Currently, 18 OPDs, including 4 women OPDs, are provided financial and capacity-building support to create awareness and advocate for their rights.   Similarly, 102 (46 women SHGs) SHGs of persons with disabilities have been promoted and supported to initiate livelihood activities and advocate for their rights. SCA also facilitates establishing a stakeholders’ coordination platform at the provincial level to bring duty bearers and right holders together to discuss issues and challenges of persons with disabilities and find a collective solution.