Sparking Disability Inclusive Rural Transformation (SPARK)

ILO is implementing multi-country project on disability inclusion in rural livelihood. SPARK project is integrated in IFAD-funded Nav Tejaswini Yojana, Government of Maharashtra.


Worldwide, there are an estimated 1.3 billion people, or 16 per cent of the population, who live with some form of disability. Of these, as many as 190 million people are living with serious disabilities. The prevalence of persons with disabilities tends to be greater in developing countries, often influenced by poverty-related factors, such as poor nutrition and poor primary healthcare, as well as the incidence of violent conflict.

Globally, persons with disabilities generally have poorer health outcomes, achieve lower educational outcomes, are less able to participate in economic activities, and experience higher rates of poverty than persons without disabilities. This poverty hinders the capacity of Persons with Disabilities and their families to cope with the adverse consequences of disability. These impacts are felt more in rural areas, where of Persons with Disabilities are least likely to have attended school (65 per cent) and are least likely to be employed (13 per cent). To a large extent, this is because of Persons with Disabilities experience multiple barriers to inclusion.

Women with disabilities are affected manifold, due to their gender and disability, leading to greater exclusion. Women with disabilities tend to have fewer opportunities to have a source of income that can offer a form of economic security. Higher negative impact is seen at the intersections of disability with caste, gender, age, rural, urban and status of education.

According to census of India 2011 data, Persons with Disabilities accounted for 26.8 million persons in India, which translates to 2.21 per cent of the total population at country level, which is much less than the WHO estimates of 15 per cent. Among them, there are 14.9 million men (56 per cent) with disabilities as compared to 11.9 million women (44 per cent). Prevalence of Persons with Disabilities is greater in rural areas than urban. In India, this means 69 per cent of Persons with Disabilities reside in rural areas in contrast to 31 per cent living in urban. The figures of employment of women with disabilities vary - in rural India 25 per cent of the women with disabilities are working, while in urban India the corresponding figure is 16 per cent.

Since its founding, the ILO has promoted equality of treatment and opportunities for persons with disabilities in the labour market. The positive contributions persons with disabilities can make to the world of work and society are increasingly recognized, and they are increasingly included in the development agenda. The SPARK Project is one such step in the direction of disability inclusion.

“Sparking Disability Inclusive Rural Transformation” - SPARK project is implemented in four countries - India, Malawi, Burkina Faso and Mozambique. While ILO is supporting the project implementation in India and Malawi, the Light for the World is responsible for project implementation in Mozambique and Burkina Faso.

The SPARK project uses a systemic action learning approach to impact the lives of persons with disabilities. This approach will enable Persons with Disabilities to become fully engaged in the economic activities of selected agricultural and pastoral value chains, increasing their incomes, thus tackling poverty, and building on the commitments of Sustainable Development Goals and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The project will also raise awareness on the potential, aspirations and needs of persons with disabilities by their communities and other stakeholders, such as civil society organizations, governments, Organizations of Persons with Disabilities (OPDs), persons with disabilities, care givers of persons with disabilities and the private actors.

The SPARK approach includes

  • Putting persons with disabilities in the lead. Build a sustainable network of Disability Inclusion Facilitators (DIFs), who will support awareness raising of disability within implementing partners and stakeholders, and support persons with disabilities in accessing services.
  • Promoting disability inclusion as an integral part of the project design and implementation. SPARK Project will support building understanding and capacities of MAVIM and stakeholders on including persons with disabilities in the Nav Tejaswini Yojana of Government of Maharashtra.
  • Creating an enabling environment for the social and economic inclusion of persons with disabilities. Build the capacity and converge with relevant representative bodies, such as Organisation of Persons with Disabilities (OPDs), Self- Help Groups, associations, government departments and networks, to understand the needs of persons with disabilities and to advocate for inclusion.
  • Coordination, monitoring and evaluation, communication, and knowledge management. Project will use systematic approach of review and monitoring, where regular monthly meetings will be held to plan and review project at the district level. Mentoring and supportive supervision is an integral part of the review and planning. Promotion of action learning, documentation of the stories of change and lessons learned along the way is an important component of the project.
Through learning exchange visits, documentation and dissemination of knowledge, disability inclusion strategy will be shared with other stakeholders in India and other countries.

Overall Objectives

MAVIM, SHG networks and communities are aware of the barriers faced by persons with disabilities and are equipped with tools, methodologies, and approaches to overcome those barriers through implementation of SPARK project.
  1. SPARK project will strengthen capacity on Disability Inclusion in the MAVIM architecture as well as in the eco system of the project.
  2. Strengthen disability inclusion and meaningful participation, of women and youth with disabilities, women care givers of Persons with Disabilities in Nav Tejaswini implementation.

Rural development operations of Nav Tejaswini Yojana promote income generation for persons with disabilities through employment in the targeted agricultural value chains and enterprises.
  1. Systematic learning around Disability Inclusion in the Nav Tejaswini Yojana resulting in a plan for upscaling Disability Inclusion in more districts implementing the Nav Tejaswini Yojana.
  2. Development of tools and approaches that address the needs of women with disabilities to be able to set up sustainable enterprises, engage in remunerative employment and enhance their access to markets, with attention for intersectionality.

Implementing Partner

In India, the ILO is partnering with Mahila Arthik Vikas Mahamandal (MAVIM), a corporation of Women and Child Development Department, Government of Maharashtra to implement the SPARK Project.

Target beneficiaries

  • Persons with disabilities
  • Care givers of persons with disabilities
  • Organisations of Persons with Disabilities
  • Programme Managers

For further information, please contact:

Ms Rachna Singh
National Project Coordinator