Refer to the article, “City authorities in new effort to get disabled beggars off streets” (The New Times, November 4). Disability and poverty have a strong correlation which some experts believe is a social construct. Not many would agree with this point of view, but there is a lot of truth in this perception.
Responding to the needs of people living with disabilities through provision of or facilitating, access to business opportunities is a quick solution reminiscent of the medical model of disability in which disability is considered pathology.
Although the intention of the City of Kigali is to change lives and reduce suffering, there is a high risk of causing more harm to the disabled beggars in this one-size-fits-all approach.
An individual assessment of the needs and abilities of the disabled beggars should be conducted first.
The solution to poverty is not always starting a small scale business. We know able bodied Rwandans whose hopes of stabbing poverty in the bud were dashed due to lack of basic business skills and a mediocre analysis of the socio-economic factors affecting their economies (households).
Investing in social programmes that provide psychosocial support to the disabled and builds their confidence and self-esteem prior to providing cash for small business may be a better approach that eventually transforms their lives.
Let us stop disabling the disabled by believing that we know what they need to live a normal able bodied life. They may seem extraterrestrial because of their physical limitations but their social, cultural and economic needs are not different from those of the presumably able bodied.