Community Based Rehabilitation (CBR)

If the full impact of poverty on the lives of persons with disabilities, their families, and their environment is to be addressed, then a comprehensive community-based approach is necessary. This must include health care interventions, education, rehabilitation and sustainable livelihood development.

CBM promotes service developments which are accessible to all people, particularly the poorest. Therefore CBM works proactively with its Partners to break down barriers which prevent people accessing services. These barriers include poverty, lack of education, gender, religion, age, social stigma and geographic isolation. CBM prioritises services that improve the lives of children and women and take environmental issues into account

CBR in short

CBR supports access to services by persons with disabilities and their families, and advocates for the inclusion of persons with disabilities in all aspects of society.

This approach, with its emphasis on developing inclusive communities, and the promotion of accessible environments, not just on the ‘rehabilitation’ of individuals, makes CBR an integral part of community development.

 > CBR Policy Paper
 > CBR Policy Paper (Appendix)

What is Community Based Rehabilitation (CBR)?


CBR as a strategy supports the full participation and inclusion of persons with disabilities in the life of their communities. It refers to the strategy of meeting the needs of people with disabilities within their communities.

This is opposed to the centre-based strategy where people with disabilities must travel to a specialised institution to receive rehabilitation services. Institutions are often expensive to set up and run and can only cater for a small percentage of people who can access the service.

CBR involves working closely with persons with disabilities and their families to overcome physical and sociological barriers within their communities through a holistic approach to a person and their environment in the areas of health, education, livelihood, social inclusion, skill development and empowerment.

Why CBR?

The majority of persons with disabilities live in low income countries, where they may experience poverty and marginalisation.

Poverty has been shown to increase the chances of disability and disability the chances of poverty. Health care, education and livelihood services may be scarce, costly and not conducive for persons with disabilities to access due to various barriers.

A cost-effective strategy that makes use of existing community services and promotes inclusion in place of exclusion is needed to reach persons with disabilities within their communities.

Goals of CBR

Some of the goals of CBR are:

Awareness creation and advocacy:
Increasing awareness, particularly of governments and (employers) in the private sector that persons with disabilities have the right, duty and ability to participate in economic activities and to access services in microfinance, business advice and promotion. CBM closely cooperates with Disabled Persons Organisations (DPOs) in this effort.

Pre-vocational training:
Assisting schools which enrol persons with disabilities to give due attention to vocational skills, promoted side by side with academic education.

Skills and vocational training:
Supporting training programmes to enhance marketable skills for persons with disabilities, to improve opportunities for employment and self-employment.

Self-employment:
Promotion of initiatives for the establishment of micro enterprises by persons with disabilities with business advice and provision of loans.

Mainstreaming:
Promoting scope of persons with disabilities to access and integrate within existing vocational training and employment programmes that were previously not accessible due to various barriers.

How does CBR work?

Comprehensive CBR involves working with people with all forms of impairment, focusing on networking with existing health, education, livelihood and social services so that they include the needs and potentials of persons with disabilities.

Sustainability and continuity can be achieved by encouraging persons with disabilities and their families to become involved in community affairs, and by encouraging the community to recognise and meet the aspirations and needs of persons with disabilities.

Further Reading

www.who.int/disabilities/cbr/guidelines - read and download all components of the Community Based Rehabilitation guidelines, in both English and French