Persons with disabilities (PWDs) have a low level of engagement in social organizations and elections at the grassroots level; disparity in gender, form, and degree of disabilities exists.

These are among the key findings of the “Assessment of disability inclusion in local governance in 2022” released today. The survey was conducted by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in Viet Nam and the Mekong Development Research Institute (MDRI), with the support from the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT).

To learn about the status of disability inclusion in local governance, the study surveyed over 1,600 PWDs, covering all forms of disabilities from various localities across the country. This is a pilot activity in preparation for expanding the research scope in the following years.

The degree of engagement of PWDs at the grassroots level is still low, just 34.4% of respondents participate in associations/groups/social organizations; there is a gender and disability-form disparity. The percentage of respondents who did not attend in the most recent elections for People’s Councils and National Assembly representatives remains relatively high, at 47.1%. The most significant hinders to PWDs from participating in elections are the ability to move to the polling place (27.7%) and access to information (24.3%). Persons with sensory, cognitive, mental and psychiatric impairments continue to confront enormous barriers to information access.

In terms of public administrative procedures, 21% of respondents, particularly those with sensory impairments, reported difficulties in carrying out the process. Nearly 1/5 of respondents haven’t got a disability certificate, and the procedure of issuing/revoking disability certificates remains unclear in some circumstances. Furthermore, 86.1% of interviewees believe that disability compensation is insufficient to cover PWD’s basic living needs. More than half of respondents do not have their names in their family’s land use right certificates, indicating a low number of PWDs who practice property ownership.

Public services and facilities are still inaccessible to many PWDs, only 1/3 of interviewees say local public transportation is easy to use. PWDs’ assessment of the district-level hospital system is pretty high. Nevertheless, the infrastructure need improving to be more PwD friendly (eg. installation of elevators, ramps, and standard toilets for wheelchair users). Following the COVID-19 pandemic, nearly 40% of respondents are interested in mental health treatments.

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