A Journey of Partnership and Capacity Strengthening with the Government of Vietnam
Fifteen percent of Vietnamese citizens have one or more disabilities. These include physical, mental, and emotional disabilities, many associated with the devastating wars of the 1960s and 70s. While there is a strong tradition in Vietnam of caring for persons with disabilities, stigma is severe and these individuals have been widely relegated to lives of dependency and isolation within their families.
To foster full inclusion of people with disabilities, the Government of Vietnam established a strong national policy foundation in 2010 to guarantee equal and equitable rights, access, and inclusion of all citizens. These policies are essential to full inclusion; however, the legal structure was neither widely understood nor optimally leveraged by the intended beneficiaries.
Through its own internal assessment process, the Government of Vietnam identified a gap in its policy for inclusion and existing disability issues at the national level. Catholic Relief Services — which had already started to work on disability-related programming in Vietnam — approached the government in 1997 to discuss a potential pilot project. To bridge the gaps between theory and practice — and the national policy and the local reality — CRS facilitated adaptation of a bottom-up “working group approach” that the Agency first successfully employed in peacebuilding programming in Bosnia-Herzegovina.