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Reading: The Impact of Community-Based Rehabilitation in a Post-Conflict Environment of Sri Lanka


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Original Research Articles

The Impact of Community-Based Rehabilitation in a Post-Conflict Environment of Sri Lanka


Masateru Higashida ,

Graduate School of Human Sciences, Osaka University, JP
About Masateru

Masateru Higashida is a PhD student in the Graduate School of Human Sciences, Osaka University. He obtained a Master of Social Welfare from the Osaka Prefecture University, Japan, in 2005, and a Master of Public Health (MPH) in International Development with Distinction from the University of Sheffield, UK, in 2016. He worked in the disability sector as a social worker in Japan from 2006 to 2012, and in the national community-based rehabilitation programme in Sri Lanka from 2013 to 2015.

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Joseph Soosai,

Section for Clinical Neurosciences, Department of Paediatrics, Oslo University Hospital, NO
About Joseph

Dr Joseph Soosai obtained an MD from the Faculty of Medicine, University of Bergen, Norway in 1984. He has worked as a consultant in child neurology and habilitation at the Oslo University hospital since 1991. He has promoted CBR activities for the Sri Lankan refugees in collaboration with the Organization for Eelam Refugees Rehabilitation (OfERR) in Tamil Nadu, India, since 1996. He also commenced activities with the Kilinochchi Association for the Rehabilitation of the Disabled (KAROD) in 2002, which was the predecessor of the Vanni Rehabilitation Organization for the Differently-Abled (VAROD), Sri Lanka.

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Jacob Robert

Vanni Rehabilitation Organisation for the Differently-Abled (VAROD), LK
About Jacob

Fr Jacob Robert has worked as the CBR programme coordinator at the VAROD in Sri Lanka since 2009.

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Purpose: Conflict and disability are closely associated; it is therefore significant to examine strategies at the grassroots-level for restoring the human rights of people with disabilities living in post-conflict societies. The aim of this study is to reveal the impact of and issues with community-based rehabilitation (CBR) in the Northern Province of Sri Lanka that was ravaged by civil war from 1983 to 2009.

Methods: The research was implemented in October 2016, in collaboration with a local NGO in the Mullaitivu district. A mixed-methods approach was followed, which included quantitative analysis of the NGO’s registration database of people with disabilities in the area (n=964), group interviews with 9 community rehabilitation committees (CRCs) of people with disabilities and their family members (n=118), and semi-structured interviews with clients of the CBR programme (n=5). Thematic analysis was applied to the narrative data.

Results: The quantitative analysis on clients of the NGO revealed that 60.9% of disabilities were related to war. Livelihood assistance was the most common type of self-reported need (44.6%). The qualitative analysis revealed that in communities with inadequate local resources, CRCs that had access to livelihood assistance made a positive impact on the socioeconomic conditions of people with disabilities and their family members. Potential issues were observed, such as the expectation of and dependence on the financial aid without self-help. Some people with disabilities would not attend CRCs if there were no financial benefits. As most of the participants had war-related disabilities, it is also possible that participation of people with intellectual and psychiatric disabilities unrelated to war may not have been promoted in some CRCs.

Conclusions: The CBR programme has had positive impacts on the living conditions of participants, albeit with some potential issues such as financial expectations and aid dependency. The authors argue that empowerment of people with disabilities and addressing socioeconomic inequality should be considered simultaneously.

How to Cite: Higashida, M., Soosai, J. and Robert, J., 2017. The Impact of Community-Based Rehabilitation in a Post-Conflict Environment of Sri Lanka. Disability, CBR & Inclusive Development, 28(1), pp.93–111. DOI:
Published on 23 May 2017.


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