Unlocking an Inclusive Society for Persons with Disabilities in Southern Africa

Posts tagged ‘people with disability’

Lobbying Government Departments on Accessible Social Services in Botswana

ImageThe Botswana Federation of Disabled People (BOFOD) has noted that disabled persons with disabilities face a host of discriminatory practices, including human rights abuses, which were often not brought to the fore.

Botswana population of people with disabilities has very little to show for two decades of democracy. Like all countries in the world, we know poverty, physical suffering and danger to be a part of the lives of most of our people. But in the worlds of people with disabilities, the broad failure of service delivery is made far worse by a combination of entrenched prejudice, government disregard and the fact of our society being designed and run in ways which exclude.

It was previously believed that disability was about health problems that limited people’s potential. Clear evidence now shows that it is mainly about societies like Botswana  , Botswana, Malawi  other countries’ that, for no good reason, government fail  to provide basic access to the 10-15% of its population with physical, sensory, cognitive and psychiatric impairments. There is no accessible transportation to get one to somewhere to look for a job, let alone making it possible to keep one. And this is before meeting employer prejudice and inaccessible work environments. Proper sanitation is unavailable to all but means a daily grind of especially severe attacks on dignity for a physically impaired person.

Health care support is difficult to reach, under-resourced and often inappropriate.  Susceptibility to cold and infection presents constant threats to life. As a person with disability, one is many times more likely to be a victim of verbal, physical and sexual abuse. The lack of basic assistive services means that friends and family – if these are present – must be relied on for, literally, the means of life, often distorting and straining relationships.

Like the HIV positive community, women with disabilities and rights of children and youth the disability  community needs powerful leadership, loudly saying that all are entitled to participate, to be full citizens, to be outraged, to have needs, to feel whole and legitimate. In the coming decades this will mean taking issue with government.. BOFOD intend to call representatives from Office of President the disability sector, Departments of Education, and key ministries in an attempt to find cross-cutting solutions to address the challenge of transforming society to ensure that disabled people were welcomed and mainstreamed into all sectors.

BOFOD noted that disabled people faced a host of discriminatory practices, including human rights abuses, which were often not brought to the fore. Attitudes and economic practices posed the greatest hindrance. Botswana had no good policies for us . Some departments had offices on the status of disabled persons, but others had delegated this function to other departments and it was not being coherently or uniformly addressed, particularly at local level, where there were also difficulty in interpreting the policies and issues. The instruments put in place to measure Botswana’s progress in dealing with disability issues are not effective and the rural areas are not reached. Transport, access, reading materials for the blind, deaf facilities and privacy all raise as major concerns for which frameworks and structures are needed. Although we still await the result of statistics Botswana survey 2012 . BOFOD and other and other NGOs lack resources to support and advocate for their cause and are not given enough real support at all levels to significantly address attitudes. Although state departments they still tend to employ at lower levels, often fail to make reasonable accommodation, such as employing personal assistants or assistive devices, and did not retain staff. Office of President – Disability Coordination lack enforcement powers. BOFOD itself in its advocacy efforts will like to see the following issues addressed:  public Education and sensitization, workplace profiling, reasonable accommodation, access, and different recruitment facilities. Disabled peoples’ organizations had to be funded and proper incentives are needed to further disabled employment. Despite that  there are multiple discriminatory practices facing disabled people. However, the worst and most prevalent are perhaps the attitudes and economic practices that hindered disabled people; the big problem lay in implementation of the policies.

Government had not ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities (UNCRPD) and other international instruments. However, there are still concerns that the instruments being used to measure the progress that Botswana had made in addressing disability issues are not effective. Disabled people, particularly those in the deep rural areas, are still subjected to immense ills of society. It is important to put a proper framework in place to guarantee privacy, for the deaf and blind, from their personal assistants and sign language interpreters. As much as we believe that nobody could predict the future, and it is even more important to ensure that proper structures are put in place.

Although the highest ranking officials of the state are committed to changing of attitudes of society towards disabled people, they are not enough. BOFOD lack resources to manoeuvre within the spaces they are being given by the state. There is need to change attitudes throughout.

BOFOD isadamant that it could itself help in providing solutions and emphasized “nothing about us, without us”. There are disabled senior official employed in government, but had not been provided with a personal assistant? BOFOD emphasized that whenever someone was employed, reasonable accommodation must be provided to cater for needs, as virtually nothing had been done in this direction to date.

BOFOD isquite satisfied, in principle, with the existence of the disability sector at OP , but still felt that the office  had no “teeth” as it did not have enough authority to hold others accountable for the failure to meet targets.  

Furthermore, BOFOD emphasized the need for funding for disabled people’s organizations, as they often reached out to places where state departments could not.

BOFOD   and its members noted the positive progress in addressing some of its concerns. Sign language had been included state of the nation address there is need to do more, listen to the Voice of the Deaf and use the correct sign language interpreters and provide subtitles are provided for some programmes.  . Braille facilities ought also to be included.

In order to achieve its targets, BOFOD will like to have a meeting with  all departments to address the following issues  Transport issues, Braille accessibility, Accessibility and Forum meeting in all its advocacy and dialogue with government to provide consultancy and advice to policy makers , as well as to make government committed, accountable and consultative.

The Status of Disability Policy Discussions In Zambia

ImageAccording to the World Health Organization estimates, about 2 million women and men in Zambia, or 15 per cent of the population, have a disability. The Government of Zambia has adopted a number of laws and policies pertaining to persons with disabilities. The current 2012 draft Zambian constitution includes specific provisions for persons with disabilities under the bill of rights. The Zambian vision 2030 also recognizes streamlining of service delivery for persons with disabilities as key to achieving the goals and objectives of the Vision. The Technical Education, Vocational and Entrepreneurship Training (TEVET) Act, 1998, states that the “special needs of people with disabilities will be taken into consideration”. The Workers’ Compensation Act (No. 10 of 1999), revises the law relating to the compensation of workers for disabilities suffered or diseases contracted during the course of employment.

The National Policy on Education, 1996, recognizes the right to education for each individual, regardless of personal circumstances or capacity. The Ministry of Education has overall responsibility for education, including special education. The National Employment and Labour Market Policy (NELP), 2005, shows the government’s intentions to provide for improved care and support services to vulnerable groups, including people with disabilities.

 The National Youth Policy, 2006, aims at including disabled youth in mainstream programmes and projects targeting youth. The Citizen Economic Empowerment Commission Act, 2008, aims at empowering people with disabilities economically through start-up businesses that will employ others. The government of Zambia  ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) on the 1st of February,2010 and has signed  but not yet  ratified the optional protocol to the convention, which establishes  an individual  complaint  mechanism. So far, Zambia has adopted a number of laws and policies on persons with disabilities, including the Persons with Disabilities Act No. 06 of 2012, which was enacted by parliament on the 31st of July, 2012 in line with the Convention on the rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).

The Sixth National Development Plan (SNDP) 2011 to 2015 builds on the Fifth National Development Plan (FNDP) 2006-2010. The Zambian current government recently revised the Sixth National Development Plan and has aligned it to its manifesto. The revised Sixth National Development Plan was not inclusive of Disability issues as the comprehensive section in the original SNDP was dissolved and combined with social protection to be called “Social Protection and Disability”. However the purpose of a complete separate section was meant to give proper mainstreaming guidance of disability issues into other sectors like awareness raising, education, medical care, rehabilitation and rehabilitation, accessibility and mobility. The Zambia Federation for Disability Organisations as an advocate for Persons with Disabilities has urged the Ministry of Finance to review the revised SNDP so that it can be clear and profound in mainstreaming disability issues into all sectors.

The Ministry of Community Development Mother and Child Health has been mandated to lead on disability issues in Zambia and is entrusted with formulating policy for persons with disabilities such as the Persons with disabilities Act 33 of 1996 which established the Zambia Agency for Persons with disabilities ZAPD; the act has now been repealed to the Disabilities Act 6, of 2012. The MCDMCH has formulated the National Policy on Disability in conjunction with various stakeholders including the Disability organizations and the policy has been completed, approved by cabinet and is currently awaiting its launch.

Part of the premise for the development of the ZAFOD-COPDAM initiative in Zambia is that the Zambian government assented to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability on upholding the dignity and justice of people with disabilities, as a measure aimed at reinforcing government’s commitment in streamlining the active participation of persons with disabilities in policy formulation and implementation. The ZAFOD-COPDAM project has built the capacity of the ZAFOD to negotiate and advocate for disability mainstreaming in all sectors of government and the Zambian Government has assured ZAFOD-COPDAM of its full commitment and support as it has recognized the good intentions of the project.

The Ministry of Community Development Mother and Child Health is in the process of formulating a National Disability Implementation Plan of the Persons with Disabilities Act in which it is looking forward to the input of the Disabled People’s Organizations. The Zambian government has said that the ZAFOD-COPDAM project’s outcome of coming up with a National Disability Mainstreaming Plan is an opportunity to adapt the information that will be contained in the plan, into the National Disability Implementation Plan.

The ZAFOD-COPDAM project has engaged a consultant and has held consultative meetings with various stakeholders. A consultative workshop was held and it endeavored to make consultations on the desired contents of the National Disability Implementation Plan by the Disability movement. The main purpose of the workshop was to present the Draft National Disability Mainstreaming Plan and get feedback from the various stakeholders. This workshop enabled the disability movement to make a meaningful contribution to the intended National Disability Implementation Plan. Moreover, the ZAFOD-COPDAM consultant is in the process of concluding the final draft plan and the submission of this document to government will be done with the guidance from the Ministry of Community Development Mother and Child Health as it intends to launch its plan in December, 2013.

The MCDMCH and the Ministry of Justice are also in the process of amending the Disability Act in the first quarter of the year 2014.The Ministry of Justice will facilitate the amendment process and the stakeholder consultations will start in January, 2014. ZAFOD-COPDAM is ensuring a disability perspective in all aspects of policy and legislation, effective implementation and enforcement of existing disability laws and policies. The National Disability Implementation Plan will facilitate the implementation of the already existing pieces of legislation and government policies.

How Persons with Disabilities are claiming inclusion in Zambia

Zambia

ZAFOD has participated in a number of SAFOD programs including the surveys coordinated by SINTEF in 2006. Pic. Sintef ©

The Government of the Republic of Zambia revised the Sixth National Development Plan to align it to the aspirations of the Patriotic Front manifesto. However, Persons with Disabilities are concerned that the revised version is not pro disability as the mainstreaming of disability issues is not prominent. The major concern that has been raised is that the comprehensive section in the original SNDP was dissolved and combined with social protection to be called “Social Protection and Disability”.

The Persons with Disabilities in Zambia insist that the purpose of a complete separate section was meant to give proper mainstreaming guidance of disability issues into other sectors like awareness raising, education, medical care, habilitation and rehabilitation, accessibility and mobility etc. There is need for National Development Plans to be explicit in mainstreaming disability issues into all sectors. The Persons with Disabilities have been swallowed by the word vulnerable groups in the National Plan which is not supposed to be the case. Persons with disabilities need to be clearly stated rather than being implied under vulnerability.

The Persons with Disabilities are claiming for Inclusive education for learners with disabilities this is in line with the submissions that were made to the Ministry of Finance by the Zambia Federation for Disability Organisations in representing the views of the Disabled Peoples Organisations. They emphasized that both objectives and strategies in all levels of education that is; Early Childhood Education, Primary, Secondary and Tertiary education. The PWDs are also demanding that issues of appropriate and accessible infrastructure should be prominent throughout the SNDP. Accessibility is now key as it is emphasized in the Persons with Disabilities Act of 2012.The social protection and disability sector should be clear on free ECE, Primary and Secondary education for persons with disabilities. The sector should also be clear on free medical and health services for persons with disabilities.

It has been emphasized that under the sector of employment and job creation there must be key performance indicators of persons with disabilities (male and female) employed and empowered as entrepreneurs just as it is done for the youths. This is important to measure participation of persons with disabilities in the employment sector and there after plan for interventions to improve their participation. In all key performance indicators the numbers of persons with disabilities should be clear across all sectors. The Persons with Disabilities are also claiming for inclusion in the area of accessing Information Communication Technology. Accessibility to ICT and ICT training for persons with disabilities should be prominent in all National Plans. Moreover, the importation of mobility aids should be clear and prominent and should include importation of vehicles for persons with disabilities.

Persons with Disabilities in Zambia are further claiming for the inclusion of sign language as the 8th official language to carter for the Deaf community. They are also claiming for an independent ministry to handle their issues and not continue under the MCDMCH because they feel their issues are sidelined and the ministry is concentrating on Mother and Child issues that have been added to their mandate. They feel that a detached ministry will represent them wholly and ensure their full inclusion in national plans, policies and pieces of legislation.

The first ZAFOD-COPDAM Capacity Development workshop was held for the Federation (ZAFOD) and the Disabled Peoples Organizations (DPOs) whose purpose was to equip participants with skills and knowledge to enhance their capacity to monitor government’s efforts in mainstreaming disability in its different sectors. During this workshop, four critical sectors were identified which have not been given adequate attention in previous inclusion efforts and were also recommended in the recent past by the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Justice as priority areas and these included the following sectors; Employment and social protection, Accessibility and Mobility, Political and Public life and finally Agriculture, Livestock and fisheries.

ZAFOD-COPDAM has taken note of these priority areas and they have been referred for inclusion into the intended National Disability Implementation Plan that is forth coming. The consultant is almost through with the works on this document and the presentation of the final draft document to the federation will be done on the 11th of November, 2013.