KHF Outreach
KHF's Information & Research Center Tackles Evaluation of Ground Breaking Regional Project for Handicap International
12th April 2012
Participants in focus group in Amman March 20, 2012
The past four weeks have been very busy ones for six full time staff members of the King Hussein Foundation's Information and  Research Center (IRC) They've been conducting interviews, organizing focus groups, and reviewing published reports and materials produced for the project in Lebanon, Palestine and Jordan in order to compile an evaluation report of a 3-year project by Handicap International which aims to strengthen self-advocacy capacities for rights and equal opportunities of people with disabilities in the Middle East.
Interviews in Egypt, Yemen, and Syria were conducted over the phone and via Skype due to the political instabilities in these countries.
The project, which took place in all six countries, is entitled 'Musawa, strengthening self advocacy capacities for rights and equal opportunities of people with disabilities in the Middle East'.  It was implemented by Handicap International, in partnership with the European Disability Forum in Belgium and Arab Organization of People with Disabilities in Lebanon.  The project was funded by the European Commission and the first of its kind in the region.  In fact Jordan was the first Arab country to pass a domestic disability rights law in 1993.
The project aims to assist authorities, private sector stakeholders and international organizations in developing and implementing policies that support the access of people with disabilities to relevant services and remove barriers that prevent their full participation in society, particularly in the fields of employment, education, and public life.
Team member Jude Sajdi, who traveled to Lebanon with the IRC to conduct the evaluation, remarked that she enjoyed the personal aspect of her work:
"We got a chance to listen to people with disabilities as they told us their stories, the hardships they go through, as well as the accomplishments they have achieved in spite of their disabilities."
Sajdi describes meeting a program participant named Hassan, a 56-year old blind man who lives in a Palestinian refugee camp in south Lebanon. 
While he greeted her with a smile, Sajdi says he told her about the difficulty he experienced in trying to secure something as simple as a walking cane…he explained that he actually had to use 'wasta' in order to obtain the cane which he has used for the past 15 years.  He also remarked that his blindness has made it difficult for him to secure reliable employment, forcing him to rely on his brothers who live abroad for support. He says he works in a disabled persons organization (DPO) but receives very little money.
His story is just one example of the plight of disabled persons living in the communities that Sajdi visited during her time in Lebanon.
The final evaluation, being prepared by the IRC, will take into account six main objectives; determining if the Handicap International project created skills and knowledge for DPOs, if coordination of the DPOs was enhanced on a regional level, if it helped DPOs develop national coordination, if the self-advocacy capacity of the DPOs increased, if the project helped to monitor civil society, and finally if the project helped to create awareness among government officials.
IRC Director Nermeen Murad noted that being contracted to conduct an evaluation on such an important regional project also signifies a recognition of their research team skills:
"We have done many monitoring and evaluation contracts in Jordan," said Murad, "but now we are able to send teams out to other countries to conduct the interviews, to do the focus groups, to come back with the information and write the final report…we're definitely seeing the IRC evolve."
The final evaluation report will be presented to Handicap International in Amman on April 15, 2012.


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