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130613 Disabled Beggars in Addis Ababa ILO Working paper


Disabled Beggars in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
ILO Working paper

This study of people with disabilities who work as beggars on the streets of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia is one of the first studies to have asked disabled beggars what their daily lives are like. Although references to disabled beggars are found throughout history, in fact almost nothing is known about people with disabilities who work as beggars in the twenty-first century. This is in many ways ironic, because disabled beggars cannot be more visible. They can be seen on the streets and on the steps of churches, mosques and temples worldwide, in the marketplace and public gathering spots. Indeed, they knock on people‘s car windows and appear on their very doorsteps. It is not that people cannot see them; it is that they may not notice them.

This study brings together qualitative and quantitative data to better understand the lives of people with disabilities who beg in Ethiopia. The study yielded an intriguing set of results that identify: the complex set of issues with which disabled beggars grapple; a series of points where targeted intervention by governments, UN agencies, NGOs and disabled people‘s organizations (DPOs) could help break the on-going cycle of disability and poverty; and choices that lead some men and women with disabilities to beg.

The study was undertaken by the Leonard Cheshire Disability and Inclusive Development Centre, University College London (UCL) on behalf of the International Labour Organization (ILO), with funding and field-based support and guidance from disability-related projects of the ILO/Irish Aid Partnership Programme.