Working through partnerships and consultancies allows us to pool resources, share expertise and achieve greater impact than we could alone. 

We've recently been working with World Vision to share our expertise in wheelchair service provision with their community networks.

In this blog, Charles - our Regional Service Coordinator in Africa - explains a bit about our training programmes and how they will help even more disabled people in Kenya, Malawi and Tanzania.

Without community support it is very difficult for the many people who need wheelchair services to access or benefit from local services. It is also very difficult for the services to be efficient in their service provision when they lack proper referral and community follow up systems.

In many places, wheelchair services are mostly provided in government or faith-based health facilities in these countries. These teams usually focus on rehabilitative or curative services, so wheelchair services have not been a priority. Our training aimed to help staff and community members become more aware of how they can support wheelchair users to access services.

Motivation and World Vision have been partners on wheelchair services in Africa for the last four years. On this latest project - called Scaling 8+ - World Vision would provide community mobilisation while Motivation would provide technical and clinical support to local services. By working together on referral, screening and follow up training, each partner wanted to combine expertise in their area of operation. This was a great synergy.

The training aims to build knowledge of systems and increase understanding of the role of community actors. We want to empower the community members to refer, screen and conduct follow up with wheelchair users themselves. It should motivate the community to support wheelchair users to get involved with local activities, so they are perceived as full members of the community and not receivers of services and sympathy.

We delivered training to community health workers, volunteers and others involved in local services. The selection criteria for participants focused on those people who are already actively supporting community services related to health issues (although we didn’t fully limit it in this way). The aim was to ensure wheelchair service support is integrated in their existing activities.

The first pilot training was given in Kenya. It was a great experience to see how community people were interested to get knowledge on how they can support local disabled people. We targeted this first training in World Vision area development programmes (ADP), where they provide broader development programmes. These areas have active wheelchair services that have already been receiving clinical and technical support from Motivation. By running pilot training with communities that already had basic training in wheelchair service provision, we could get useful feedback on the impact of the training before rolling it out elsewhere.

The next training was delivered in Malawi and thereafter in Tanzania. The objectives of that training was to build capacity of the World Vision team and a local clinical team to deliver the training in their own wheelchair service areas.

Since these first pilots in Kenya, Malawi and Tanzania, our next engagement is to monitor the impact of community involvement in wheelchair service provision. The result will inform how to engage respective governments in scaling up the training to actively involve service providers, wheelchair users and community members. This will ensure sustainability of wheelchair service provision.

James is the Disability and Wheelchair Programmes Officer at World Vision. He told us:

It was great working with the Motivation team as well as the partners in Malawi and Tanzania, and meeting other World Vision staff in the respective countries.

As we wind up this little – but life transforming – project, I will not forget the positive experience of seeing the World Vision Tanzania team embrace wheelchair services with so much excitement. The fact that they were able to independently deliver the rest of the training in Kilimanjaro, Arusha and Manyara is a true testament to the power of partnership and its ability to transform wheelchair services for better!

This project was produced by Motivation International and World Vision, agreement number APC-GM-0100, through Advancing Partners & Communities (APC), a cooperative agreement funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development under Agreement No. AID-OAAA-12-00047, beginning October 1, 2012.