It all started in Asia… when Ernst Christoffel set out for Turkey in 1908 and set up an orphanage and school for the blind, followed by Iran in 1925. In the late 1960s the first work in Afghanistan and India started, branching out into other programmatic areas and can be seen as the start of Asia-wide comprehensive programming.
Programming in Asia takes a rights-based approach to disability: CBM networks with government agencies and development organisations to address disability as a cross-cutting issue in alignment with the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). CBM partners with government and non-government organisations as well as Disabled People’s Organisations (DPOs) to develop and implement programmes and projects based on the country context. These include low vision medical eye work, ear care, assistive devices development, mobility prosthetics and orthotics, community-based rehabilitation and inclusive development, disability inclusive disaster risk reduction, community mental health, parent mobilisation, and DPO strengthening.
Currently CBM has programmes and projects (and offices) in Pakistan (Islamabad), Nepal (Kathmandu), India (Bangalore), Sri Lanka, Bangladesh (Dhaka), Myanmar, Thailand, Laos (Vientiane), Vietnam (Hanoi), Indonesia (Jakarta), Philippines (Manila) and Papua New Guinea. This work is overseen and supported by an Asia Regional Hub Office located in Bangkok, Thailand.
CBM programming in Asia remains important now and in the foreseeable future. An estimated 690 million women, men and children in the Asia Pacific region live with disabilities. Poor working conditions, road traffic accidents, climate-related disasters, and high population growth increase this number every day. Many still live in poverty and suffer prejudice, discrimination and exclusion. For instance, at least one third of children with disabilities do not receive any early intervention services; women with disabilities have two to three times lower access to reproductive health services than women without disabilities. Representation and participation of persons with disabilities in political processes and decision-making bodies is still very low in the region. Despite governments of all our programme countries having signed and ratified the CRPD, and many countries having made inroads into anti-discrimination legislation, actual implementation can still be further developed.