According to the recent National Survey on Persons with Disabilities, seven percent of the population in Viet Nam has disabilities. The number of persons with disabilities (PWD) was estimated to be around 6.2 million people in 2016 and has increased due to the aging population and traffic accidents. The survey also indicated that households with PWD are twice as likely to be poor as other households. Almost 18 percent of PWD live in multidimensional poor households in Viet Nam. Only half of PWD live in permanent houses; less than three-quarters have access to safe water and sanitary latrines. Social exclusion and inaccessible services hinder vulnerable and disadvantaged people from having decent lives.
Article 21(2) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1948 states: “Everyone has the right of equal access to public service in his country.” Despite this, disabled people in Vietnam face immense difficulties in accessing services, facilities and opportunities. Although Decision No 1019/QĐ-TTg signed by the Prime Minister on 05 August 2012 set the target of 100% of public places and apartment buildings accessible to PWD by 2020, only 17 percent of Commune Health Centers are designed in line with accessibility standards for PWD and ten out of every 100 schools accessible for children with disabilities until now. This reality shows a big gap between policy and implementation.
As part of Habitat Vietnam’s community development effort, Habitat Vietnam launched the project “Enhancing inclusion for persons with disabilities through accessible shelter and school wash” funded by U.S. Tithe to improve accessibility and living conditions of PWD through increased participation and housing support.
In addition to providing accessible house design features, Habitat Vietnam also provided accessible latrines in schools for CWDs and home-based business training to vulnerable families with PWD, thereby enhancing their productivity within their homes. At the end of the project, 26 families with PWD accessed safe housing and received the tailored home-based business training to improve social inclusion; 300 school children and teachers accessed the improved sanitation facilities.
This project was used as valuable inputs in the national workshop on disability inclusion co-organized by Habitat Vietnam. Habitat Vietnam will also get involved in reviewing the Law of Persons with Disabilities of Vietnam in 2021 to further advocate for a better disability inclusion program and policy at the national level.