Unlocking an Inclusive Society for Persons with Disabilities in Southern Africa

Article 2 - Participants to the ECDE Training Workshop

Participants to the ECDE Training Workshop

From 11th to 12th April 2016, the Southern Africa Federation of the Disabled (SAFOD) organized a training workshop at Holiday Inn, Johannesburg, South Africa, for its ECDE facilitators as part of the “Building DPOs’ Capacity in Promoting Inclusion in Early Childhood Development and Education within CBR Programs in Southern Africa” project.
Funded by the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA), the project is focused on promoting Inclusion in ECDE [Early Childhood Development and Education] within the CBR [Community-based Rehabilitation] programs in Angola, Mozambique, Lesotho and Zambia. One of the components of the ECDE project was the development of Standard Tools/Manual of Early Childhood Identification in Communities.
The workshop sought to train the ECDE facilitators representation SAFOD’s national affiliates from the four countries so that they become Trainers of Trainers when they go back into their communities. It also sought to validate the manual that had just been developed by SAFOD’s consultant, Mr. Wamundila Waliuya, which is being used throughout the implementation of the project, par6icualrly in conducting a series of community orientation/training sessions for caregivers, parents and other strategic community members by the trained DPOs’ representatives together with government instructors.
Speaking during at the beginning of the workshop, SAFOD Director General, Mr. Mussa Chiwaula, reiterated that there was a strong correlation between CBR and inclusive ECDE, yet nothing in this context had been done to link the two.
“As we all know, CBR has important component on Education, but the emphasis is has always been quality primary education, but not much at ECDE level. This should probably be the first project of this nature in Southern Africa, and as SAFOD we are proud to be associated with it,” he said.
He added that that the success of the project would ultimately motivate other DPOs as well other stakeholders to start putting ECDE for children with disabilities on the top of the education agenda that require consideration.
Among other things, the project sought to enhance early identification at community level for children with special needs through inclusive CBR interventions; to build the capacity of SAFOD’s affiliate DPOs already working in CBR programs to strategically link CBR and inclusive ECDE interventions within target communities; and to strengthen community support services for ECDE programs through CBR interventions that were inclusive of children with disabilities.
Besides the training of trainers (TOT) workshop, the full list key activities of the project included conducting a series of sensitization sessions of strategic community members on identification of disabilities and registration; developing standard tools of early childhood identification in communities; developing a manual on “ECDE and Disability” which would incorporate issues and guidelines of early identification and interventions in the context of children with disabilities; conducting a series of community orientation/training sessions for caregivers, parents and other strategic community members by the trained DPOs’ representatives together with government instructors; and develop tailor-made teaching and learning aids, mobility, and other accessories for children with special needs by target communities.
Some of the topics included in the manual that was presented and analyzed during the training were concepts of Inclusive Education and CBR; guidelines of early identification and interventions in the context of children with disabilities; methods for carrying out early identification and intervention; guidelines on community participation in the identification of children with disabilities; the role of CBR in enhancing access of children with disabilities into quality ECDE; entry processes of an ECDE into a CBR programme; and a number of case studies to enhance learning.
In his closing speech, Mr. Chiwaula commended the work that had been done by Mr. Waliuya in developing a very resourceful ECDE Manual that the ECDE trained facilitators would be using as the blueprint throughout the project.
Said Mr. Chiwaula: “As you can see therefore, you, the lucky facilitators of ECDE that have been selected and have gathered here, have a very important work to do from today until the close of the project. This training will definitely go a long way moulding you to become not only effective facilitators but also champions and advocates of quality education for learners with disabilities at all levels, including at ECDE levels.”

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Article 1 - Delegates to the AT-Info-Map Launching Ceremony

Delegates to the AT-Info-Map Launching Ceremony

The Southern Africa Federation of the Disabled (SAFOD), in collaboration with other three strategic partners, officially launched the Assistive Technology Information Mapping (AT-Info-Map) project at an event held on 19 April 2016 at Masa Hotel, Gaborone, Botswana.
Funded by the Google Impact Challenge as one of the ‘big ideas that will use technology to expand opportunity and independence for people with disabilities’, the AT-Info-Map is a 3 year project (2016-2019) that has the goal of mapping the availability of different types of assistive technology (AT) in 10 countries in Southern Africa.
The AT-Info-Map, which is being piloted in Botswana by SAFOD in partnership with the African Network for Evidence-to-Action on Disability (AfriNEAD), University of Washington, and Dimagi, has the goal of mapping the availability of different types of Assistive Technology (AT) in 10 countries in Southern Africa. Within each of the 10 SAFOD countries, national DPOs, government officials, AT providers, and local organizations that serve persons with disabilities are invited to participate in implementation.
Speaking during the launching ceremony, SAFOD Director General, Mr. Mussa Chiwaula, said the project was one of the most innovative initiatives as far as disability and inclusive development in general were concerned in Botswana and the entire Southern Africa.
In his speech which can be downloaded here, he said one thing that had always been clear right from the beginning was the fact that many persons with disabilities could hardly access AT, and that something needed to be done to address this gap, hence the project was timely as kit would seek to fill that yawning gap.
“Indeed, this project is going to be a game changer, as we believe it is going be a significant shift from the current manner of how we view and understand Assistive Technology,” he declared.
He added that SAFOD and its partners came to realize that one of the key factors contributing to lack of access to AT was simply lack of information about the availability of AT within the target countries. It was therefore in this context that they were starting At-Info-Map project that was going to develop a data system to capture, organize, and map the current availability of AT within the targeted countries.
He added: “We believe that this will create the baseline against which increased access can be measured. It will also bring to light the gap between availability and need. And understanding this gap has the potential to encourage key actors to increase access to AT.”
Chairperson of the Botswana Federation of the Disabled (BOFOD), Mr. Neiso Modise, stressed the success of the project in the region would very much depend on how Botswana would fare as a pilot country. He therefore called for unwavering support from the various stakeholders to ensure not only the success of the project, but also as a collective commitment towards inclusive development in the country.
“So I see this as an opportunity for our country to show that we really care about issues affecting persons with disabilities in particular, and inclusive development in general. And we can only show that care based on the level of support that all participants gathered here today, and those that have not made it here, are going to render to the project,” he appealed.
Mr. Modise, who is also member of the Regional Executive Council of SAFOD, re-echoed Mr. Chiwaula’s observation that the timeliness of the project. He noted that the project came at an opportune time when Botswana was just at the brink of putting in place a national Disability Policy, and at a time when the debate for the enactment of a disability law as well as the ratification of the United Nations Convection of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) seemed to intensify.
“I am therefore positive that the rolling out of this project will, in a way, also affect this discourse and some of the challenges as well as positives related to Assistive technology to be unraveled by the project can be used to enrich these policies or pieces of legislation,” he said in a speech that can be downloaded here.
Throughout the event, a number of PowerPoint presentations were made by representatives of SAFOD, University of Washington and AfriNEAD focusing on Project overview/description, AT overview, AfriNEAD introduction, and CommCare App overview. The presentations can be downloaded here!

  1. Gubela Presentation
  2. Mark Presentation
  3. George Presentation

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On 11 June 2016, the National Federation of people with disabilities in Namibia (NFPDN) hosted the round table meeting in Windhoek, Namibia, with Members of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly (JPA), whose theme was “A disability-inclusive implementation of Agenda 2030: how can sustainable development leave no one behind?” The JPA brings together Parliamentarians of Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific (ACP) and members of the European Parliament.

During the Round Table meeting, Ms. Cécile Kashetu Kyenge, Member of the European Parliament and Vice-chair of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly gave a presentation which focused on the ACP-EU JPA resolution of 2011 on the rights of persons with disabilities.

She noted that the ACP-EU JPA resolution was innovative but there had been no proper follow ups. She said it was time to come back to this issue, to look at what had been done and the impact that policies have actually had on the daily lives of persons with disabilities.

One of the questions that were tackled was: Is the right to participation of persons with disabilities actually fulfilled?

“In many countries, disability is still a taboo. It’s a matter of cultural change in our societies, which is directly linked to political and social development. Cultural change was also a pre-requirement for the 2030 agenda,” she noted.

Ms. Kyenge also urged delegates to start speaking about integration policies and build a transversal network of MEPs, ACP MPs and civil society, a platform to share good practices.

Chairperson of NFPDN, Mr. Daniel Trum, gave the presentation on Agenda 2030 in which he also noted that even though persons with disabilities were only mentioned in seven targets, they should be included and participate throughout implementation.

“Namibia has a Human Rights Action Plan which covers seven areas. All these areas recognize persons with disabilities as a disadvantaged group,” he said.

There is a strong disability movement in Namibia who are advocating for the alignment of all national policies with the Unites Nations Convention on The Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD). In addition, the Harambe Prosperity Plan (for the next 4 years) was launched recently by the new Namibian Government.

According the Mr. Trum, the NFPDN will strengthen its relationship with the Namibian Government as it recognizes that persons with disabilities have to be part of the development and implementation process. NFPDN also acknowledged that JPA is an opportunity to communicate and exchange and put pressure on governments in Africa to include persons with disabilities as part of processes and implementation of policies.

By: Rabasotho Moeletsi (LNFOD)

Article 2 - Particpants to the LNFOD-LCN event

Particpants to the LNFOD-LCN event

On the 21st May 2016, the Lesotho Council of NGOs (LCN), in collaboration with the Lesotho National Federation of Organizations of the Disabled (LNFOD), held a forum on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) in Metsimaholo Community Council. Under this initiative, the LCN is using public awareness and participation through a project called Public Participation & NSAs [Non-State Actors] Capacity Building for Development through the support of the European Union (EU) to enable communities to be better informed so as to demand services and their rights from the duty bearers.
For LNFOD, this was a case of ‘killing two birds with one stone’, as the SAFOD’s national affiliate had already established branches within the council and used the event to resuscitate the local Disabled People’s Organizations (DPOs) branches while at the same time deliver a training on human rights aimed at empowering the persons with disabilities at local level to effectively claim their rights.
The training explored the legal and policy instruments which would work as important tools for PWDs when advocating for their rights. It also served as a sensitisation platform for PWDs and community leaders who gained more knowledge on the rights of persons with disabilities. The participants were educated their respective roles that they need to play to ensure that PWDs were not denied their rights in the communities.
Mr. Sekonyela Mapetja from LCN said the rationale for the event was to deepen decentralization in all aspects of life within the communities with a view to increasing participation of members of the public in service delivery by being actively involved in decision-making processes regarding service delivery.
“Within the LCN there is a component of disability, so it would not be wise not to involve affiliated organizations of LNFOD when discussing disability issues since they are experts in that sector,” he said.
The representative of EU, Mrs. Mokome Mafethe, said the EU had been a good development partner to Lesotho and continued to support the country to meet its challenges.
She further explained that EU was supporting Lesotho in the three main areas in an effort to support the implementation of National Strategic Development Plan (NSDP), and the support sought to expand water and sanitation distribution services; contribute to developing a sustainable energy sector; and support good governance.
“These developments are meant to improve the lives of the people of Lesotho and therefore it is important for the people to know about these developments so that they could be part of the process and play a role in holding those given responsibility accountable. The EU has contributed funds to develop community councils through local development grant (LDG),” she said while urging people of Metsi-maholo to demand accountability of their allocated funds to their districts council.
The development activities were expected to be taking place in eight districts, except in Mohale shoek and Thaba-Tseka. The two district council were still in capacity building phase.
LNFOD Projects Coordinator, Mr. Rabasotho Moeletsi, reiterated the importance of participation of persons with disabilities in the development committees. He said violations of rights for persons with disabilities should not be taken lightly and should be reported to the relevant. He disclosed that LNFOD had signed a memorandum of understanding with National University of Lesotho (NUL) whereby the NUL Law Department represents persons with disabilities in the courts of law without them paying legal fees. He therefore encouraged people to report cases whenever the PWDs were denied justice.
He added: “Denying persons with disabilities employment and opportunities to participate in the development of their communities is bad because they are equally paying tax in this country and should be treated equally like every citizen.”
Mr. Moeletsi also emphasised on the importance of the branch DPOs committees to work hard in order to take opportunities brought by the decentralization of services to the community.
He then challenged the audience to make sure that when they reach their homes they make sure that they encourage parents of out of school children with disabilities to take them to school, as this was a violation of children’s right to education.
He introduced the tool which was designed to gather information on individuals who are out of school, while warning parents who fail to send their children with disabilities to school that they risked being taken to the courts of law under the Education Act of 2010. The tool was also given to the chairperson of the branch to register the names of the out of school disabled members so that they could find schools for them with the help of the council.
Ms. Pascalina Letsau, who is gender activist and Editor of the LNFOD’s monthly E-newsletter, spoke against people who tend to take issues of disabilities lightly. She also spoke about domestic violence against girls and women with disabilities and picked one story that she was following up in the district. She advised that people with disabilities should be involved in every committee within the council in the mainstream development agenda of the community councils.
One of the participants, Mrs. ‘Mateboho Monoko commended the work that is done by LNFOD. She testified that since LNFOD started working in the village some years back there had been some positive changes in her family as her disabled child who had lost hope went to vocational training and was now working independently in one of the factories in Maseru.
57 male persons with disabilities and 26 female persons with disabilities (recorded on the attendance list) were reached with the training message. Furthermore, members of the public of around 800 people were reached through the training at this public gathering.

Article 1 - Petitioners making a strong statement

Petitioners making a strong statement!

On the 24th May 2016, the Federation of the Disability Organizations in Malawi (FEDOMA) and Association of People with Albinism in Malawi (APAM), jointly petitioned the Malawi Parliament after a March that attracted various other partner organizations against the increase of incidences of attacks, abductions and killings of persons with albinism in Malawi.
The petition, which also saw the participation of the Chancellor College, a constituent college of the University of Malawi (under the Faculty of Law Disability Rights Programme), NGO Gender Coordination Network, Disabled Women in Africa (DIWA), and Civil Society Network on Transparency and Accountability Citizen Alliance, also bemoaned the lenient punishments meted out against those found guilty of committing the social vice, as well as slow delivery of justice.
In the petition, the partners noted that despite various campaigns and public outcry on the issue, Malawi continued to register higher numbers of attacks perpetrated against persons with albinism.
“It is sad to particularly note that these attacks and murders have been increasing among women and children with albinism. The attacks have brought a lot of fear resulting in many persons with albinism withdrawing from social and economic activities. Many school going children with albinism have dropped out of school,” read the petition in part.
The petition said the cases involving such attacks and killings take unduly too long to be dealt with by the justice system. Furthermore, the prosecutors often proffered lesser charges against the perpetrators for such heinous acts instead of considering charges such as grievous harm, manslaughter, murder or attempted murder. This contributed to the lenient sentences being passed by the courts.
This entire situation, read the petition, demonstrated gross violation of various rights that were enshrined in the Constitution of the Republic of Malawi and the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).
On none hand, the Malawi Constitution entrenched rights such as life, inherent dignity and freedom from all forms of violence for all persons in Malawi without discrimination on the basis of disability or indeed any other status or condition. On the other hand, the CRPD, which Malawi ratified in 2009, also guaranteed these rights to all persons with disabilities, including persons with albinism, imposing an obligation on states parties to effectively protect them from all forms of violence; and to identify, investigate, prosecute and effectively punish all perpetrators with a view to putting a stop to the incidents and violations.
But despite such legal obligations, the petition noted that persons with albinism in Malawi were not enjoying these and many other rights. For this reason, the partners called upon the Parliamentarians to take a number of drastic measures such as tightening the legislative framework, strengthening the judiciary, regulating traditional healers, and establishing the Commission of Enquiry within 21 days, among other measures.
“We call upon the honorable parliamentarians to ensure that the state should take all appropriate legislative, administrative and social measures to ensure the maximum protection and enjoyment of the right to life and other rights of persons with albinism in Malawi. This should include reviewing and amending relevant laws such as the Witchcraft Act, and the Trafficking in Persons Act, to include provisions on persons with disabilities/albinism. We also call for repealing or reviewing of the Anatomy Act,” read the petition.
The petition also recommended that the government should commission the urgent systematic registration of persons with albinism and details of their relatives in all constituencies through a census and put in place mechanisms to track and protect them.
In terms of the security of the persons with albinism, the petition proposed that the government should set aside a fund that should address the education (including provision for enrolling children with albinism in boarding schools), security and health related rights and needs of persons with albinism.
Signed by FEDOMA Chairperson, Nitta Hanjahanja and APAM President, Boniface Massah, the petition also urged Parliamentarians to consider learning from best practices in other countries on how to address the attacks of killing of persons with albinism.

To download the full version of the Petition, Click Here

View complete photo gallery of the event here:

 

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SAFOD Programs Manager, George Kayange (Centre), presenting a snapshot of the preliminary findings of the Capacity Assessment of the Southern and Eastern African DPOs.

SAFOD presented preliminary results of the Capacity Assessment of DPOs in Southern and Eastern Africa at a workshop organized by the Africa Child Policy Forum (ACPF) in partnership with Africa Disability Forum (ADF) and Wets Africa Federation of the Disabled (WAFOD), held at Niamey, Niger, from 26th to 27th November 2015.

The regional workshop aimed, among others, to encourage the uptake of the evidence around child protection, with a particular focus on the protection challenges facing children with disabilities and the corresponding responses and generate multi-stakeholder consensus towards action, including on better ways of mainstreaming the rights of CWDs within the DPO agenda.

During the workshop, ACPF also launched the African Knowledge and Learning Platform on Children with Disabilities, which will serve as a knowledge and information sharing platform amongst like-minded organizations on children with disabilities in Africa.

The main objective of the workshop was to present robust evidence towards accelerating regional and national efforts to prevent and respond to violence against children with disabilities. It also drew attention and created visibility to the nature and scope of the problem of violence against children with disabilities in Africa by presenting empirical evidence contained in the African Report on Violence against Children and the African Report in Children with Disabilities: Promising Start and Persisting Challenges. An in-depth analysis of the workshop objectives, goals, and structure can be accessed on the ACPF website here; or by downloading their Concept Note here.

SAFOD was engaged by ACPF to conduct the DPOs’ assessment in Southern and Eastern African sub-regions with a view of informing ACPF and ADF in their efforts of strengthening the formulation and implementation of relevant policies for children with disabilities in Africa.

During the presentation of the preliminary (unofficial) findings  at the workshop, Mr George Kayange, SAFOD’s Programs Manager who was lead researcher for Southern and Eastern Africa sub-regions, indicated that  while there were a lot of DPOs doing quite praiseworthy work on the ground, a lot also needed to be done to ensure that they not only remained strategically focused but were also able to formulate, understand, articulate and re-align their own mission, vision and mandates with the work that they actually do on the ground.

It was also found that most of the DPOs at all levels – national, sub-regional and continental – were still grappling with issues of sustainability and resource mobilization. Both skilled and non-skilled staff were not adequate to effectively carry out programs and activities of the organisations in the their respective DPOs.

To read a full analysis of the findings, including recommendations, look out for the final report on this blog soon. A link to the full report on the ACPF’s website will also be provided.

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Cantol Pondja, from FAMOD in Mozambique, presenting an inclusive education case study for Mozambique. His presentation was among the five case studies from five countries.

SAFOD organized the Southern Africa Symposium on Inclusive Education from 23 – 24 November 2015, at Holiday Inn, Johannesburg, South Africa.

The symposium sought to consolidate experiences and good practices from the SADC region that would lead to strengthening the capacity of governments, CSOs, and DPOs, in promoting access to quality Inclusive Education.

At the end of the Symposium, participants came up with resolutions committing themselves to specific actions and strategies beyond the event that would accelerate Inclusive Education for learners with disabilities.

During the event, case studies from five countries –  namely Mozambique, Malawi, Zambia, Namibia and Lesotho out of the ten countries where SAFOD works in – were presented and discussed. The five countries represent half of the ten countries in which SAFOD operates.

It is envisaged that this is the first of the inclusive education symposiums that SAFOD is planing to host in future under its inclusive education program, and it is expected that  case studies from the other remaining countries – namely South Africa, Botswana, Angola, Swaziland and Zimbabawe – will be featured and discussed at the next symposium.

The symposium created a platform where practical solutions to some of the challenges were identified and lessons learnt culminated into resolutions. In order to view or download the resolutions, visit SAFOD’s special website dedicated for the symposium here!