Community Based Rehabilitation (CBR) was first initiated by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 1978 as a strategy to address access to rehabilitation services for persons with disabilities in developing countries. It focused on decentralised service provision and the use of local resources. Over time, CBR has evolved considerably, reflecting greater recognition of the human rights and needs beyond rehabilitation of persons with disabilities, and the link between disability and poverty.
CBR now represents a multi-sectoral and multi-level strategy within community development for rehabilitation, equalisation of opportunities, poverty reduction and social inclusion of persons with disabilities. It aims to ensure that persons with disabilities and their families are able to access the benefits of mainstream health, education, livelihood and social sector programs. CBR also promotes the inclusion, participation and empowerment of persons with disabilities (and their families) in all development and decision-making processes. Current CBR guidelines and resources are strongly influenced by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD).
Many CBR resources are developed for grassroots practitioners and increasingly reflect efforts to support programs in moving towards more social and rights based approaches. Donors and government decision makers should be aware of the overall CBR approach and their role in the multi-sectoral and multi-level implementation. This is essential to identifying potential actors and stakeholders who may be supported in their efforts, and to assess the potential for CBR to contribute to providing sustainable solutions in resource constrained settings.
Resources below include international guidelines and frameworks, case studies highlighting good practice, and other resources which adopt a rights based approach and emphasise the need for the inclusion, empowerment and active involvement of persons with disabilities in service delivery.
See also: Assistive devices, Introduction to disability and development, Health, Education, Livelihoods, Participation of persons with disabilities