USAID Okard

“Okard” is the phonetic translation of the word “opportunity” in Lao

USAID Okard is a five-year project that promotes disability inclusive development in Lao PDR. Funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Leahy War Victims Fund and Victims of Torture Program, and the U.S. Department of State, USAID Okard partners with the Lao government and civil society organisations to take tangible actions to remove barrier to inclusion and to empower people with disabilities to optimise and sustain their independent living and functional ability.

The number of persons with disabilities increase significantly due to the rise of traumatic injury (unexploded ordnance (UXO) and road traffic crashes), noncommunicable diseases and aging. Promoting equal access to health, rehabilitation and social services will contribute to enhance full and effective participation or people with disabilities in society on an equal basis with others.

KEY APPROACHES

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Okard project partners with the public and private sectors to support persons with disabilities in the areas of health, economic empowerment and stakeholder engagement. Okard uses a systems-centered approach focusing on increasing government leadership and ownership of disability inclusion and rehabilitation and mental health policies and strengthening services delivery for long-term sustainability. The project also applies a person-centered approach addressing the individual needs of persons with disabilities and the communities that support them. The project is primarily implemented in Vientiane Capital and in the provinces of Xieng Khouang and Savannakhet.

USAID Okard believes that
IF
the government of Lao PDR increases its leadership and governance to strengthen policies and strategies related to disability inclusion and rehabilitation
AND IF
the government and non-government community actors are equipped and engaged to take tangible actions to effectively remove barriers toward inclusion
AND IF
primary health providers receive training on essential rehabilitation techniques, equipment and supply of simple assistive products
AND IF
people with long-term impairment receive home based case management to increase and sustain their independent living (livelihood) and optimal functional ability
THEN
people with long-term impairment will fully and effectively participate in society on an equal basis with others.

HEALTH

USAID Okard creates training opportunities for health professionals on rehabilitation, increases the delivery of appropriate assistive products and promotes rehabilitation as part of the continuum of healthcare systems. It also supports Mental Health and Psychosocial Support (MHPSS) through training of service providers and peer-counseling.

ECONOMIC EMPOWERMENT

The project engages with a variety of partners including non-profit associations, governmental bodies and the private sector to implement inclusive vocational training courses, integrate persons with disabilities into the labor force and provide market-based livelihood opportunities.

STAKEHOLDER ENGAGEMENT

USAID Okard supports the Ministry of Health and the National Committee for Disabled People and the Elderly to consider disability inclusion as a cross ministry issue and to better coordinate organizations and institutions toward disability inclusion.

In addition, the project strengthens and empowers people with disabilities to advocate and contribute to the policy dialogue on disability inclusion.

ANTICIPATED OUTCOMES

USAID Okard promotes greater economic self-sufficiency, optimal functional ability and well- being of persons with disabilities and their households. The project works towards creating a conducive environment in which persons with disabilities are empowered to actively participate in society.

  • Increased governance and leadership of the government of Lao PDR to enhance disability inclusion and to increase availability of rehabilitation and assistive products along the continuum of care.
  • The growing need for rehabilitation, assistive products and mental health services addressed in the continuum of care by a competent health workforce.
  • More persons with disabilities and their households employed or self-employed.
  • More persons with disabilities are enabled to effectively participate in society on equal basis with others in a barrier free environment.