World Bank Approves $162 Million to Strengthen Social Protection Systems for Persons With Disabilities in Tamil Nadu

Washington  – The World Bank Board of Executive Directors approved a $162 million for the RIGHTS project today to strengthen the social protection systems and capability of the State of Tamil Nadu to promote inclusion, accessibility, and opportunities for persons with disabilities.

More than 26.8 million people in India and 1.18 million in Tamil Nadu live with some form of disability. Persons with disabilities suffer worse health outcomes, lower educational achievement, lower levels of economic engagement, and higher rates of poverty. Among persons with disabilities, 45 percent are illiterate and only about 26.5 percent have completed secondary education. World Bank financing will support Tamil Nadu’s continuous efforts to scale-up social protection systems for vulnerable populations and improve its human capital outcomes.

“Persons with disabilities experience exclusion and barriers in accessing health services, education, employment, transportation as well as care and support services,” said Hideki Mori, the World Bank’s Acting Country Director for India. “RIGHTS aims to help the State expand coverage of social care services and benefits for persons with disabilities.”

The RIGHTS project aims to help the State improve the management of services for persons with disabilities by supporting the development of a centralized registry of persons with disabilities, setting up social care service centers, providing mobile outreach of therapy services, improving access to public infrastructure, and identifying training and livelihood opportunities, particularly for women and youth.

“Women with disabilities experience the combined disadvantages associated with gender and disability. Recent World Bank research shows that in Tamil Nadu only one third of women with disabilities are employed compared to almost half of men with disabilities,” said Srinivas Varadan and Pravesh Kumar, Senior Social Protection Specialists and Task Team Leaders of the Project. “RIGHTS is uniquely placed to bring together a range of interventions to address the binding constraints faced by persons with disabilities by helping to improve access to public infrastructure, housing and mobility, but also in facilitating access to employment and encouraging inclusive and safe work environments for women.”

RIGHTS is the first World Bank-financed operation in the South Asia Region that exclusively focuses on expanding coverage and last-mile delivery of social care services for persons with disabilities, with its innovative approaches to family and community-based care and support, specialized training and access to employment. It could serve as a model for future engagement for the Bank and governments.

The $162 million loan from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) has a maturity of 24 years, including a grace period of six years.