The study of poverty - situation, dynamics, and impact - has received much impetus in the last 10 years in Uganda. Evidence from the country’s Household Surveys and the recently concluded Participatory Poverty Assessment (PPA) has yielded much needed policy-relevant information. Emerging evidence from the studies confirms an intrinsic and mutually reinforcing link between poverty and disability. Chronic poverty studies, however, are much more recent. Spurred by a growing need to understand which categories of the population live in perpetual poverty and the reasons behind their “missing out” on the benefits of current development interventions the studies have recently focused attention on specific themes and/or categories of the poor. This study focuses on the relationship between chronic poverty and disability in the country, and it argues that disabled people are not only among the poorest of the poor in the country, but that they remain poor for very long periods of time, and from generation to generation.
The study highlights some of the methodological challenges that still exist with respect to isolating chronically poor from episodically poor people, one of these being the lack of longitudinal studies that devote attention to “tracking” poor people’s situations, behaviour and characteristics over time. Yet in the case of disabled people anecdotal information is overwhelming in recognising that the two - long duration poverty and disability are in the majority of cases interchangeable.
The purpose of this study, therefore, is to gain a deeper understanding of the relationship between long-duration poverty and disability. The Study is based on a review of existing literature and actual fieldwork carried out in four districts of Uganda. It seeks to: (a) summarise the current state of knowledge about disability and chronic poverty in Uganda; (b) discuss the factors that disabled people in “perpetual poverty”; (c) describe the efforts that are presently being made to address long-duration poverty among disabled persons in the country; and (d) propose policy interventions aimed at greater inclusion of disabled people in the country’s development processes.
The study adopts Hulme and Shepherd’s definition, taking chronic poverty to be that poverty where individuals or households are trapped in severe and multi-dimensional poverty for an extended period of time, and where poverty is linked with the intergenerational transmission, so people who are born in poverty, live in poverty and pass that poverty onto their children (Hulme and Shepherd, 2001).
Evidence from the study confirms that disabled people, as individuals, or the households in which they live, face a kind of poverty condition that carries on for a long period of time - beyond five (5) years, during which period, and regardless of different macro and micro interventions, affected households or individuals are unable to sustain themselves or to improve on their livelihoods.