In response to a Right to Information petition in 2016, the government stated that the total population of persons with disability (PwD) in M East Ward, according to the 2011 census, was 1,500 out of a population of 8.5 lakh – a mere 0.17% of the population.
The team at Apnalaya were concerned, because this number does not align with the World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates, that PwD make up between 10-15% of the global population, or with Apnalaya’s field experience, where we work with over 1000 PwD in Shivaji Nagar alone – just one small part of M East Ward.
So what does this mean? And why is it important? Well, as a consequence of undercounting, Disability receives scanty attention and resources from the Government, which has a responsibility to support PwD. An improved accuracy in the counting of people with disabilities builds the case for the better provision of services to PwD in the future. And in a locality like M East Ward, where life is already difficult, the lack of access to basic services and rights exacerbates the struggle.
In order to better understand the actual number of PwD in M East Ward, Apnalaya undertook a pilot research study across three slum clusters of Shivaji Nagar in 2018, which confirmed that the number of PwD had been grossly undercounted. Initial findings highlight that at least 5% of the surveyed population were found to have some form of disability.
Taking the issue forward in a larger context, Apnalaya has kickstarted a full-fledged survey to arrive at a reliable number of PwD among the slum communities of M East Ward. The final report will provide a blueprint for Apnalaya’s advocacy on the issue.
The research study aims to meet the following objectives in the M East Ward of Mumbai:
- To identify persons with observable disability based on government identification criteria.
- To determine how many of these persons are officially registered as persons with disability.
- To identify the number of children who demonstrate development milestone based, disability risk factors.
- To identify existing availability of, and access to, services for persons with disability
It has been more than a decade since Apnalaya launched its Disability programme in informal settlements in Shivaji Nagar, which is a part of M East Ward, one of the most underserved areas in Mumbai.