Out of the Shadows: Bringing children with disabilities into the Tajik society | Mission East

Out of the Shadows: Bringing children with disabilities into the Tajik society

Project Status: 


The objectives of this call are the reduction of social exclusion of Tajikistan’s vulnerable groups and support for the development of the social services system. This action shares the same objectives, with a focus on children living with disabilities (CWDs) as one of Tajikistan’s most vulnerable groups. A major cause of their social exclusion is a lack of access to quality services. This action supports the development of the social service system provided by non-institutional actors. It builds upon a successful model piloted by Mission East (ME) over the past years. The proposed action will take place in Khatlon and Zerafashon oblasts, covering 25 jamoats in Kulob, Muminobad, Shurobod, Khovaling and Penjakent districts.
In line with the government development policies this action will create quality basic services for vulnerable groups of population (being CWDs) to reduce their marginalization and social exclusion. ME will set up new territorial centres: day-care, referral and resource centres and will develop modules for training of social workers. The development and implementation of the action will be done in partnership with the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection of the People (MLSPP) and with the Kulob State University. With regard to financial sustainability, in line with our previous successful project in Kulob, it is expected that once operational the financing of the centres will be taken over by the state government. 
This action addresses both the direct result mentioned in the call and two of the three indirect results from the call. The direct result of the call matches the planned first result of the action: new social services for CWDs and their families are created through day-care centres and home based services.
The combined first and second indirect results of the call match the planned second result of the action: the new models for social services to CWDs are supported by standards, methodology and practices as well as a sustainable, effective and transparent system of coordination, monitoring and evaluation.



The activities foreseen under the action are:  

  • Community awareness, identification and registration: raise community awareness on disability rights’ work and organize identification and registration of CWDs to enable their families to claim (government) benefits. 
  • Home based services: establish mobile outreach units and increase the capacity of existing working units. 
  • ‘Territorial’ Centre based activities: establish day care, resource and referral centres and increase the capacity of existing centres.
  • Parent involvement: establish parent support groups, organize these into new and link them to existing Association of Parents.
  • Standards, methodologies and practices: develop training module for practitioners providing social services including international educational exchange visits, on-site training and coaching and the development of a training programme at the University of Kulob. 
  • Coordination, monitoring & evaluation: develop databases to monitoring progress made by CWDs, organize regional coordination meetings, establish monitoring and evaluation mechanisms for communities, disseminate and share material and systems with social sector.

The expected outputs per district will be: 

  Penjakent Kulob  Muminobod  Khovaling Shurobod
Day Care Centre   1   1  
Resource Centre 1 1   1  
Referral Centre 1 1 1 1 1
Mobile Outreach Teams 1 1 1 1 1
CWDs Corners in Kindergarten 8 4 5 4 4






  • Registration: Increased numbers of CWDs and their families who receive benefits. 
  • Parents Association: Increased numbers of parents of CWDs are enabled to advocate for the interest and rights of their children with disabilities
  • Training:Increased numbers of qualified practitioners and a relevant social workers’ training is developed. 
  • Coordination and M&E:Effective regional coordination and monitoring and evaluation meetings for social service delivery are in place.

These outputs will lead to the following results:
1) new social services for CWDs and their families are created through day-care centres and home based services and
2) the new models for social services to CWDs are supported by standards, methodology and practices as well as a sustainable, effective and transparent system of coordination, monitoring and evaluation.

The timeframe is 24 months to establish new and expanded existing services in line with the action presented above.



The total number of children with disabilities in Tajikistan is approximately 20,000  of whom about 2,500 children with disabilities are living in 23 institutions. Countrywide, for the remaining children, there are only 5 (government supported) day-care centres for children and those are mainly in urban areas. None of these centres is located in the semi-urban and rural areas of Khatlon and Zerafshon oblasts. Futhermore, in Khatlon and Zerafshon there are no training programmes for social workers – being both medical and social practitioners – working with CWDs, neither at vocational training institutes nor at the universities. 
The pre-project situation of this action is: approximately 21,000 family members in the target area experience certain levels of exclusion as one or more members of their household are coping with disabilities. Approximately 3,000 children with disabilities in Khatlon and Zerafshon are currently living without effective social service support. 

The problems to be addressed are found on various levels:

  • Firstly there is the level of actual service provision and its quality. The number and location of centres is insufficient to meet the needs of most children with disabilities. Additionally, there is a lack of professionally trained therapists and social workers. 
  • Secondly, on family level there is a lack of awareness and knowledge of existing government support for children with disabilities, mainly in the form of allowances. Mission East has found that within its programmes in rural communities, up to 30% of CWDs are not registered.
  • Thirdly, on the individual level, children with severe disabilities are unable to get to day care centres, even where they exist. They need therapy and care in or closer to home.
  • Finally, although residential institutions exist, they provide a very low quality of care and relatively few of the children with disability are living or being treated in these institutions.

In the proposed action Mission East will address above mentioned needs and constraints in close cooperation with the Tajik authorities. The action links into the National Development Strategy and the Poverty Reduction Strategy of Tajikistan. In this key national policy the government names social inclusion of vulnerable population (among which are people with disabilities) as one of the country’s development priorities.  Quoting the strategy, social inclusion should be realized through “establishment of a four tier system, including community-based social services to day care centres with activities including (i) opening new territorial centres of social services and day-care centres for people with disabilities; (iii) training of social workers; (v) development of social care methodology suitable for use in day-care centres.”   

This action builds on Mission East’s earlier and ongoing interventions in Kulob and Penjakent districts. The activities in Kulob included the set-up by the local NGO Zarshedabonu of the day-care centre “Parastu”, which continues to be managed by the Zarshedabonu and provides rehabilitation and therapy for children with disabilities in four jamoats. Based at the centre, mobile outreach teams also provide home-based care to children with more severe disabilities. The running of the centre is now financed by the state. Mission East’s role in supporting this centre changed over the years. It started with supporting the physical set-up of the centre. At this moment support is given on organizational management, mainly in the form of training and coaching of the management team. 
In Kulob Mission East also enabled parents to organize support meetings and networks. On local level these groups of parents encourage each other to get their child and family registered and they support each other in complying with the therapy provided by the centre to their children. On district level the local parent support groups have linked up with the regional Parent Association, which advocates for the rights of children with disabilities. Also a Memorandum of Understanding was signed recently with the Tajikistan National University to explore the possibility of developing a professional training programme for social workers in Kulob.  A pilot was started with students interning at Parastu in Kulob. The activities in Kulob started in 2008. The EU financially supported these interventions under the agreements 144-919 and 211-136 and is currently EuropeAid is supporting ME in Khatlon under the agreement 211-139. 
In Penjakent a new day-care centre and new mobile outreach units are in the process of being established. The planned centre and outreach units will target CWDs in four jamoats. The development of parent support groups are also a part of the project’s strategy. Zarshedabonu and the Kulob Association of Parents are sharing their expertise and longer experience from Kulob. Part of the work in the communities is run in cooperation with the local NGO Nuri Umed. The Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs financially supports this project. The activities in Penjakent started in 2012 and will continue until 2014.

The conclusions and recommendations from reviews and evaluations of the previous actions indicate that there is a need to:

  • Investigate the figures and needs of the total group of CWDs in area’s which are still out of reach of the social service delivery system
  • Expand social services to those jamoats where CWDs still have no access to therapy and care
  • Document the model of this action, in particular the standards, methodologies and practices – so that it can be rolled out and be used throughout the country
  • Continue to work on university level for the development of a professional training programme for social workers 
  • The synergy between this action and Mission East’s previous and current actions is found in ME’s present intervention in part of the same communities on girls’ and women’s rights. Additionally activities in the field of disaster risk reduction have also been implemented in the same target areas.



Project Code:



Khovaling, Muminobod and Shuro-obod dist. in Khatlon prov., Penjakent dist. in Sughd prov.