Evaluating the impact of community-based inclusive development in Laos

Two men face each other, they are sitting low to the bare dirt floor. One man is talking the other is taking notes . They are sitting under an open wooden structure, you can see a tropical farming community in the background
Survey emunerator conducting an interview with a research participant in Kham district

Community-based inclusive development (CBID) is a practical and holistic approach to promoting social inclusion, empowerment, and equal opportunities for people with disabilities. CBID strategies uniquely aim to achieve positive and lasting change through active, whole-of-community engagement. By providing targeted supports and removing barriers, CBID approaches enable people with disabilities to access services and participate in social and economic life on an equitable basis with others. With a diverse variety of interventions and intended outcomes, measuring the impact of CBID is challenging.

The Okard project is funded by USAID and is managed and implemented in Laos by World Education, in close collaboration with Humanity and Inclusion and with government and non-government partners. The project aims to increase and sustain the independence and functional capacities of people with disabilities. As part of this project, a CBID Demonstration Model is implemented in Xieng Khouang and Savannakhet provinces. Nossal Institute’s Disability Inclusion and Rehabilitation Unit is evaluating the impact of the CBID Demonstration Model.

In 2018, our team completed a ‘baseline’ study to gather evidence on barriers to disability inclusion in target provinces to inform the design of the CBID Demonstration Model. The study showed people with disabilities were more likely to be older, less educated, have lower living standards, be unemployed and have poorer health and wellbeing than people without disabilities. It also showed discrepancies in access to services and community participation,  which were attributable to stigma and a lack of accessible services.

With the USAID Okard project nearing the end of Phase 1, the Nossal Institute is contracted to undertake an ‘endline’ study to assess the impact of the CBID Demonstration Model. The impact assessment uses a mixed methods study design to investigate the changes to participation in the community and utilisation of services for people with disabilities, and knowledge, attitudes and practices in the community.

Findings from this endline study will be published in November 2023 and will contribute to much needed evidence on the effectiveness of CBID models in the disability inclusive development sector . Findings will also inform USAID Okard, service providers and the Laos government in developing and implementing disability inclusive policies and programming.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its 17 SDGs pledges to leave no one behind. This project is an example of the Nossal Institute’s commitment to working with key global stakeholders to contribute to evidence-based practices to facilitate social inclusion, empowerment, and equal opportunities for people with disabilities.

Dr Manjula Marella is Research Fellow at the Nossal Institute for Global Health. She specialises in disability inclusive development research area focusing on developing and validating client-reported outcome measures

Felix Kiefel-Johnson is an early career researcher whose work focuses on understanding and promoting social inclusion and disability equity across Asia and the Pacific.

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Dr Manjula Marella