Community Based Rehabilitation

this image shows a young Vietnamese girl with an intellectual disability, sitting on the floor of her house with her mother, who has her hand on her daughter's back and is smiling at the little girl.
Ny Ny Le Thi, an 8 year old vietnamese girl was diagnosed with an intellectual disability and has been provided with rehabilitation, a walking frame and a wheelchair from CBM.

CBR is a inclusive development strategy deployed to eliminate barriers to development; it aims to address the causes of disability; and to deliver quality services and programs.

What is CBR?

Community-based rehabilitation (CBR) strives for a better life for everyone in the community, including people with disabilities. It is a rights-based approach that aims to bring persons with disabilities and the community together on an equal basis.

CBR is concerned with community action, which guarantees the same rights and opportunities for everyone, including persons with disabilities, in order to maximize the full potential of everyone in the community. It believes in the ability, potential and right of persons with disabilities to contribute to progress. CBR also believes in the inherent capacities of any community and begins by living, listening, learning and sharing with the community. CBR is an approach which aims to deliver specialized services and access mainstream services, builds on what is already happening in any community, utilizes local resources AND break down barriers so that people with disabilities have the same rights, the same opportunities as their fellow citizens.

Why CBR?

The majority of persons with disabilities live in low-income countries, where they may experience poverty and marginalisation.

Poverty has been shown to lead to exclusion (from services and community activities) and increases the chances of disability; in turn, disability usually means exclusion from these same services and increases the chances of poverty. Health care, education and livelihood services may be scarce, costly and not conducive for persons with disabilities to access due to various barriers.

A cost-effective strategy that makes use of existing community services and promotes inclusion in place of exclusion is needed to reach persons with disabilities within their communities.

How does CBR work?

To ensure people with disabilities realize their rights and responsibilities and have the opportunity of leading lives with dignity and fulfillment, CBR adopts a multi-sectorial, inclusive development approach which addresses the key domains of well-being (health, education, livelihood, social participation and empowerment).

CBR is concerned with improving the quality of life of everyone, including health, education, livelihood, social participation and empowerment. To accomplish this, CBR’s focus goes beyond the individual by also working systematically to remove society’s negative attitudes and barriers to inclusive development.

  • Community participation and community ownership of programs, two 
essential ingredients for sustainability. 

  • The government (local to national) is the duty bearer and takes the lead in ensuring CBR, as a strategy, is institutionalized through local/national legislation with matching and appropriate rights-focused activities and budgets.
  • People with disabilities, like everyone else, have equitable and 
barrier-free access to all services and opportunities, such as health services, education, poverty alleviation and livelihood programs, social justice, cultural and religious events, and to social relationships. 

  • The central role of people with disabilities, their families and their organizations (DPOs) in implementing and managing programs using the CBR strategy. 

  • Partnership between government, DPOs, non-government agencies, business sectors, faith-based groups and other community organizations.
  • CBR starts from where the people are, and grows from the unique context of each community.

Community Based Rehabilitation guidelines - read and download all components of the Community Based Rehabilitation guidelines, in both English and French

Related articles

The CBR matrix

The Community Based rehabilitation (CBR) matrix - a visual representation of CBR


CBR - Current trends and priorities

Some information - from Latin America - about trends and priorities in Community Based Rehabilitation (CBR)


CBR in short

CBR supports access to services by persons with disabilities and their families, and advocates for the inclusion of persons with disabilities in all aspects of society. This approach, with its emphasis on developing inclusive communities, and the promotion of accessible environments, not just on the ‘rehabilitation’ of individuals, makes CBR an integral part of community development.



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