Choki Wangmo | Tsirang

Ability Bhutan Society’s (ABS) recent survey in Tsirang revealed that there are 975 people living with disabilities in the dzongkhag.

A team of enumerators led by two officials from the ABS conducted the survey from April to May as part of ABS’s three-year project: “Engaging and empowering people with disabilities” in Zhemgang, Samtse, and Tsirang.

According to the ABS’s dzongkhag coordinator, Pema Deki, the data collected across the 12 gewogs in the dzongkhag showed a various range of disabilities, but the hearing impairment was one of the prominent disabilities.

Pema Deki said that obtaining accurate data was the first step towards addressing the challenges faced by people with disabilities.

She said that the project will support people with disabilities in their quest for self-determination and engagement in the communities by promoting early identification, building the capacity of community workers/services, and facilitating income-generating activities to improve living conditions.

“According to the data, there are specific programmes designed for people with specific disabilities and their caregivers. The data will also help to come up with necessary access infrastructure for people with disabilities,” she added.

The project also includes providing seed money to start income-generating activities and enrolling younger ones with disabilities into special education needs based on their interests.

However, she said that there could be still some people left out during the data collection period. “We request them to register with our office as soon as possible in order for us to roll out the services.”

A caregiver, Ganga Maya Monger from Damphu had been taking care of her son, Anan Monger with cerebral palsy for the past 11 years. She said that since he was first detected with the disability when he was one, the family had difficult times adjusting to a new way of life.

“I have to be with him always. He cannot speak or walk. We have applied for wheelchair support but couldn’t get one,” she said.

With support from the project, she hopes to get a wheelchair for her son.

The first phase of the project had covered Chhukha, Dagana, Punakha, Sarpang and Tashigang dzongkhags. The project is supported by the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development and German Leprosy and TB Relief Association based in Germany.

There are 22,376 people in the dzongkhag according to the Population and Housing Census 2017.