The disability–poverty nexus and the case for a capabilities approach: evidence from Johannesburg, South Africa

Peer-reviewed article
(2011 Oct) Disability & Society, 28 324-337


Lauren Graham, Jacqueline Moodley & Lisa Selipsky


Debates about the relationship between poverty and disability continue and are important in that they contribute to policies regarding how best to address the needs of disabled people living in conditions of poverty. Increasingly, researchers have begun to use Sen's capabilities approach in understanding disability. However, the approach has not been adequately applied to understand the nature of the poverty and disability nexus, particularly in developing contexts. This article seeks to address this gap by reporting on evidence from a study conducted in eight of the poorest wards in Johannesburg. Using the capabilities lens we demonstrate the ways in which both poverty and disability compound one another to limit the capabilities of people. The findings point to the need for broad-scale as well as targeted social development policies and programmes to address the consequences of poverty and disability.

Keywords: Poverty, disability, capabilities approach, education access, social protection, household support

Livelihood & Social Protection