The Situation of People with Disabilities in the Laos PDR

Dr Manjula Marella1, Liem Nguyen1, Chandalin Vongvilay2, Donna Koolmees2, Alounny Keosouvanh2, Chantavad Nalesouphan2, Somphet Keovongxay2, Fleur Smith1, Alex Robinson1, Wesley Pryor1

1Nossal Institute For Global Health, The University Of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia, 2World Education Laos, , Lao People’s Democratic Republic

Community Based Inclusive Development (CBID) projects are being implemented in two districts of the Lao PDR as part of the USAID Okard Activity, which is a five-year program to improve the lives of people with disabilities and their households. A baseline survey was undertaken in the two target districts (Xayphouthong and Kham) for the CBID project. A cross-sectional population-based household survey using a two-stage cluster random sampling was undertaken with 5,158 respondents from both districts. In addition, a qualitative study comprising key informant interviews and focus group discussions with key stakeholders, people with disabilities and their families and community members was undertaken. There are a significant proportion of people with disabilities in both districts with a prevalence of 13.3% in Kham and 9.9% in Xayphouthong districts. People with disabilities are more likely to be older, have lower living standards, have lower education levels, unemployed and have poorer health and wellbeing than people without disabilities. People with disabilities are less likely to participate in the communities and social gatherings and have poor access to services. Barriers to participation and accessing services can be largely attributed to negative attitudes in the community, lack of accessible services and means to travel to services.


Dr Manjula Marella is a Senior Research Fellow at the Nossal Institute for Global Health, The University of Melbourne. Her research interests are measurement of disability and its impact, evaluation of disability inclusive development programs and development and validation of client-reported outcome measures using qualitative and quantitative techniques.


The Asian Studies Association of Australia (ASAA) is the peak body of university experts and educators on Asia in Australia. Established in 1976, we promote and support the study of Asia in Australian universities and knowledge of Asia among the broader community. Our membership is drawn mainly from academics and students, but also includes industry and government Asia experts. We take a strong interest in promoting knowledge about Asia in schools and in contributing to state and Commonwealth government policies related to Asia. We provide informed comment on Asia to a broad public through our bulletin, Asian Currents, and specialist research articles in our journal, Asian Studies Review. Four book series published under our auspices cover Southeast Asia, South Asia, East Asia and Women in Asia.

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