Washington, 19 February 1997 (RFE/RL) - Lithuania is launching a major program to assist the handicapped, the elderly and battered women with community services at the local level.
The World Bank has approved a $3.7 million loan to help pay for the $12 million project to help integrate the handicapped into the community.
The World Bank says the program is "unique" in the countries of the former Soviet Union.
The program will open multi-service centers in Vilnius, Siauliai, and Svencionys, for the elderly, families with children and the disabled to help prevent the institutionalization of more than 1,100 individuals in those towns.
Education centers for disabled children will also be built or expanded in Anyksciai, Moletai and Utena municipalities to prevent over 70 handicapped children from being placed in institutions. The bank says that providing services at the local level is far less expensive than institutional placement.
The participating municipalities will contribute more than $3.6 million to the program, with the national government giving $670,000. The rest of the money is coming in loans from Sweden ($3.3 million) and the Netherlands ($1 million).