Karpur, Arun; Sophie, Mitra; Filberto, David; Susanne, Bruyere; Rajsekharmurthy, Basvaraju; Budithi, Rajsekhar (2014). 'Self-help Group Model for Eliminating Poverty, Promoting Community Inclusion, and Building Capabilities for Persons With Disabilities in Rural India' Paper presented at the annual conference of the HDCA, 2-5 September 2014, Athens, Greece.

There is growing evidence that People With Disabilities (PWD) are more likely to be multi-dimensionally poor in developing countries. In many countries, several efforts have been made through legislation to provide protections from social and economic discrimination for PWD and for enhancing their human capital through service delivery initiatives. Yet little is known on what works to enhance the capabilities of this group. In India, we evaluate a large-scale economic and social development program implemented by the Society for Elimination of Rural Poverty (SERP) in the rural areas of one of the southern states.

This program, with funding form World Bank, has been instrumental in organizing PWDs into self-help groups, providing livelihood generation activities, rehabilitation and healthcare services. Currently, the program has mobilized over 220,000 PWD into SHGs and has federated these groups at multiple levels to provide a platform for program and policy-level advocacy.

Unlike most SHG-focused evaluation programs that measures economic benefits of participation, our approach to evaluation stems from the recognition that these groups offer opportunities for social and personal empowerment for PWD and their families. Further, the community-based services available through these groups help in cultivating them into community-based rehabilitation (CBR) groups advancing full-inclusion of PWD and expanding their capacities for achieving increased functioning. Using a mixed-methods approach, our research aims to study how participation in SHG impacts not only access to resources, but also livelihood opportunities for PWD and their families including their participation in education and work. Further, we study the impact of SHG participation on social empowerment, self-determination, citizenship activities and reduction of stigma towards PWD.

Mixed methodologies include large-scale survey of PWD in program and control groups in combination with qualitative methods of focus group discussions to study the program structure and processes. As of February-March 2014, survey data is being collected on 900 PWD (450 in intervention and 450 in the comparison/control group) and their families using multistage sample design. Thirty two focus-group discussions are being conducted using a semi-structured tool informed by the CBR matrix as proposed by the World Health Organization. The final analytical model will draw on information from the survey and FGDs. On the quantitative side, we anticipate to use propensity score matching as an impact evaluation methodology. Data will be ready for analysis by end of April 2014.

Outputs of the study will inform SHG-based developmental approaches for addressing poverty as well as expanding capabilities for PWD in their community-settings. Further, different aspects of SHG will be examined with the perspective of community inclusion of PWD in the context of developing countries.