Thailand – Asia-Pacific Development Center on Disability
Thailand International Development Cooperation Agency (TICA) Ministry of Social Development and Human Security (MSDHS), Government of Thailand Foundation of the Asia-Pacific Development Center on Disability (APCD Foundation) Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA)
As the regional center on disability and development, APCD has been collaborating with 32 countries in the Asia and Pacific. ASEAN sub-region is one of its priorities.
Facilitating persons with disabilities (PWDs) and their groups/organizations in the context of disability and development, APCD provides training and information support based on its network in the Asia and Pacific region. Particularly, APCD's approach is to mobilize resources at all levels (individual, organizational, and societal) in collaboration with over 30 focal point organizations (government ministries/agencies in charge of disability) and around 200 associate organizations (self-help groups/organization of PWDs, grassroots NGOs at the national level).
Purpose and Overall Goal
Located in Bangkok, Thailand, APCD serves as the regional center in the Asia-Pacific region to facilitate networking and collaboration among organizations of/for PWDs for the purpose of empowerment of PWDs and barrier-free society.
According to UN estimate, the size of the population of PWDs is approximately 400 million or one out of ten people in Asia and Pacific. Most PWDs are unlikely to participate in community activities due to various barriers. There are relatively less active PWD leaders, self-help groups/organizations of PWDs, resulting in weak networking and collaboration. It is, therefore, needed to empower PWDs, support the formation of self-help groups/organizations which can collaborate with different stakeholders as an effective approach in the complexity of disability and development in Asia and the Pacific.
Considering similar social, economic and cultural aspects, APCD has been utilizing strong networking and collaboration among government agencies and grassroots organizations in Asia and the Pacific. Inclusive development is critically important since disability as a cross-cutting issue should be addressed in all development agendas. One of key roles in APCD's approach is to facilitate both governmental and non-governmental organizations to make innovative steps together. APCD's training and information support is a platform for their exchange.
Partners: Implementation Agency endorsed by UN
APCD was established in 2002 under joint collaboration of the Government of Thailand and the Government of Japan as a legacy of the Asia Pacific Decade of Disabled Persons (1993-2002). APCD has been endorsed by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission of Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) as a regional cooperative base for another decade, 2003-2012. In line with the concept of trilateral cooperation, APCD has developed diplomatic documents with over 30 governmental focal point ministries/agencies in charge of disability and around 200 associate organizations.
Comparative Advantage of Thailand
Some advantages of Thailand in the context of South-South Cooperation can be identified.
i) UNESCAP, several regional offices of UN specialized agencies, and international NGOs are located in Bangkok, Thailand. With support from these network and collaboration, this location has helped the hub function of APCD as a regional implementing agency on disability in Asia and the Pacific. ii) PWDs have been involved in the policy-making process in Thailand over 20 years, as a member of national committee of disability or politician in the parliament. Currently, the Thai blind leader, who is one of APCD Foundation's Executive Board members and also resource person of UN level meeting on disability, has been a senator for 3 years.
Management by APCD Foundation
Designated by the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security, the Government of Thailand, the Foundation of the Asia-Pacific Development Center on Disability (APCD Foundation) has fully managed APCD at this moment. APCD Foundation was established in 2004 under the royal patronage of Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn. Thailand achieved an honored Franklin Delano Roosevelt International Disability Award (FDR) initiatives. HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, on behalf of His Majesty the King, was the nation's representative to receive the award and prize, and presented the initial capital to the APCD Foundation.
APCD's basic implementation style at this stage is i) training (individual level), ii) Follow-up/ regional workshop or seminar (organizational level), and iii) Documentation with various stakeholders (societal level). Networking and collaboration as the key for implementation can be highlighted by the joint initiatives of training and information support for South-South Cooperation, including collaboration with UN agencies.
APCD encourages PWDs and policy makers in each developing country to discuss disability-related issues at trainings and seminars with a number of international cooperative agencies such as UNESCAP, the International Labor Organization (ILO), the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and the World Bank (WB). Partners of APCD's international collaboration are based on APCD's government focal agencies (more than 30 countries) and associate organizations (around 200 national level NGOs).
In fact, over 70 international seminars, trainings, and workshops on a basis of South-South Cooperation have been organized by APCD since 2002. These activities include more than 10 regional cooperation seminars at UN level, around 1,000 leaders with disabilities and supports participated in Asia-Pacific region. APCD encompass concepts such as Independent Living (IL), Self-help Groups (SHG) and Self-help Organizations (SHO), Community-based Rehabilitation (CBR) which relate to empowering PWDs in their communities.
According to feedback from training participants (APCD's first 5 years), i) more than 90% of the participants have successfully transferred knowledge in their own countries through exchange and participating in a policy-making process regarding PWDs, ii) over 150 participants have been recognized as resource persons domestically in their own countries, ii) Among those as domestic resource persons, more than 40 PWDs have been identified as resource persons at the regional level.
Through these experiences, APCD has learned that one of effective ways is to offer opportunities for PWDs, supporters and policy makers to learn about concepts, approaches, practical guidelines, and laws at domestic and international levels all together in one platform, which can practically link with empowerment of PWDs and creation of a barrier-free society. The role of APCD in this context is to facilitate and mobilize ex-training participants who play a leading role in disability and development, by offering such a platform such as seminar, training, and activities for documentation. These leaders with disabilities, who can disseminate acquired knowledge and experiences from other fellows in their neighboring countries, can be resource persons in the same region since they can share lessons learned and good practices in similar development agendas. Documentation is effective if it is initiated and implemented by PWDs, families and their organizations.
One of greatest impacts in APCD's initiatives was demonstrated when APCD invited top business executives from SM Supermalls (Shopping mall, Philippines) to South-South Cooperation Seminar jointly organized by UNESCAP and APCD in 2007. Assuming that collaboration with corporate sectors was critically important in the era of globalization, APCD continuously visited SM Supermalls to build mutual understanding whenever visiting the Philippines. With APCD's facilitation, leaders with disabilities and their families (ex-participants of APCD's training in 2004, 2005, 2006) interacted with SM Supermalls. As a result, their groups/organizations and SM Supermalls mutually developed great understanding about how to promote "Inclusive Community Business Development".
Nowadays, SM Supermalls provides staff training regarding disability / setting up the Committee on Disability Affairs since disability has been top priority in their customer services. The background and its initiative have been documented as one of APCD's information support activity called "Story-based Knowledge Management (SbKM)" approach. SM Supermalls committed to produce a film in collaboration with APCD and shouldered all costs including production and launching ceremony. The film has been disseminated through information directory at 34 shopping malls, more than 200 cinemas and training of 120,000 persons quarterly. In total, about 7 million people per year are expected to view the background story.
Based on these efforts, SM Supermalls from a corporate sector has been a member of the National Council on Disability Affairs (NCDA) which functions to coordinate among governmental agencies in the Philippines. Moreover, SM Supermalls has been sharing their disability initiatives with the Philippine Retailers Association which consists of different retail shops and other entities for empowering and attaining competitiveness for "Inclusive Community Business Development".
1) APCD's focal point government ministries/agencies (more than 30) and associate organizations (around 200) in the Asia-Pacific region have initiated to view each PWD as a creator of knowledge who can enhance current initiatives, activities, and capacities. Nowadays particularly governments let them continue to participate in discussions about how the empowerment of PWDs can progress and what adaptations are required.
2) APCD has involved hub organizations, mainly government ministries in charge of disability, in disseminating relevant information. Participants of APCD's training from each community are encouraged to share knowledge through peer support as the most appropriate method for the empowerment of PWDs at the individual, organizational, and societal levels.
3) APCD has utilized available communication methods among PWDs, particularly taking into consideration accessibility perspectives for blind and deaf persons. Digital divide is a topic to be tackled. Information Support activities by APCD fully cover different aspect of information sharing and dissemination.
4) With networking and collaboration facilitated by APCD, PWD-related projects by public and private institutions create synergy impacts as with its facilitation, PWDs, families and their organizations can assess potential partners in light of the objectives. One of unique approaches which APCD can make is to incorporate PWDs in the developmental planning, monitoring, evaluation, and assessing the impact of initiatives by the government based on its diplomatic relationship and PWD-oriented implementation endorsed by UNESCAP.
5) In close consultation with ex-participants of APCD's training, governmental focal points and associate organizations, any adjustments required by PWDs can be in place, or in the process of being put in place. By promoting evidence-based approach through documentation (Story-based Knowledge Management), disability-related stakeholders are highly encouraged to demonstrate impacts practically in the local context.
Taking into consideration complicated elements in partner countries, Capacity Development in the APCD context encompasses a holistic approach. i) APCD's training participants (PWDs) acquire knowledge and experiences to be agents of change with a strong commitment to development. ii) After they return to their communities with concrete action plans, next steps include utilization of their available resources and collaboration with governmental sectors, among others, which are coordinated by these APCD's training participants. The role of APCD is to facilitate their discussion to strengthen self-help groups/organizations of PWDs. iii) Documentation as a follow-up activity is positively designed to create social impact, according to knowledge management approach in collaboration with different stakeholders. Since policy changes are likely to be triggered through empowered PWDs, interactive collaboration helps their initiatives become sustainable and feasible at individual, organizational and societal levels. On the other hand, there are several challenges identified in APCD's South-South Cooperation approach. While direct and comparative inputs from PWDs to focal point governments are useful to know their policies and implementation, some government officials in charge of disability are often changed as well. One key of APCD's implementation is how to sustain good relationship with policy-makers and high-level government officials with commitment on a frequent basis.
August 2002- 31 July 2007 (APCD Project First Phase) August 2007- 31 July 2012 (APCD Project Second Phase)
1) About 30% from Thailand International Development Cooperation Agency (TICA) / Ministry of Social Development and Human Security (MSDHS), Government of Thailand 2) About 30% from APCD Foundation 3) About 40% from Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA)
Name of Primary Contact Person
Mr. Akiie Ninomiya
Title of Primary Contact Person
Executive Director, APCD