Federation of Disability Organisations in Malawi (FEDOMA) has asked government to involve physically challenged people in all government’s program for equal participation to all.
FEDOMA’s Head of Programs Simon Munde made the remarks on the press conference in Blantyre after a one-day national conference held at Mount Soche under the theme of “Equal Participation: Key to Sustainable development” targeting various sectors in local governance sector, civil society, developmental partners and the private sectors to share experiences, appreciate and deliberate ways for addressing disability inclusion challenges in the country.
Munde said there has been systematic exclusions of persons with disabilities in various quarters of development in the country though there have been calls from all circles of society including the disability fraternity for an inclusive society that respects the human rights for all.
“We organized this conference as an avenue to collective efforts by all FEDOMA’s partners and other players in the local governance sector to deliberate on the growing concerns regarding inclusion of persons with disabilities in local governance system and development agendas at all levels,” he said.
He also said with the financial support from the Scottish government through CBM-UK, FEDOMA is implementing is a project aiming at enhancing the participation of all persons with disabilities in Salima, Nkhotakota and Lilongwe districts.
“Currently we are working in three districts in the country with the aim of embarking on the project which is called participation of persons with disabilities in local governance structures, through the empowerment of Disabled People’s Organisations will effectively advocate for the rights of persons with disabilities and interact with government at all levels and the project will reduce poverty levels among persons with disabilities and also strengthen the overall of Civil Society in Malawi,” said the head of programs.
When asked on the criteria used to select this districts Munde was quick to say; “our development partner is funding what we call the community based rehabilitation program which is being run by MACOHA, so that program is in about 9 districts and we wanted to start with only three of them so that our enhancing participation of persons with disability project must actually complement the project and very soon we will extend this project to the remaining districts,”
In his response the guest of honor at the conference Principal Secretary in the ministry of local government Chris Kang’ombe who represented the minister Kondwani Nankhumwa said Malawi became signatory to the United Nations Convention on rights of persons with disabilities in 2007and that the convention was ratified in 2009 saying the government of Malawi had recognized very early the need for specific policy intervention to support persons with disabilities.
He also said the government introduced the Development of National Disability Mainstreaming Strategy (NDMS) aiming at ensuring that the government is mainstreaming the disability issues.
“The strategy aims at providing the guidelines in the development of policies and programming on issues relating to persons with disabilities through the promotion and protection for the rights of disabilities who constitutes 4% of the total population of our country, a total of over 15 million people This strategy will give the government a direction to adapt, change and offer a dynamic and conducive environment in which persons with disabilities can be accommodated to fully participate in national development,” said Kang’ombe.
He also said the Malawi government in order to effectively implement policies and to ensure persons with disabilities of equal protection of rights and participation in the social process, is among others reviewing the 2006 national policy on equalization of opportunities so that developing the disability issues are fully integrated.
“I would like to assure you that the government remains dedicated to build an environment so that persons with disabilities are able to enjoy their rights and I should also add that Malawi’s initial Country Report with reference to the obligations under UNCRDP is moving towards finalizing it and will be submitted to the UN committee on the rights of persons with disability very soon, we must encourage and strengthen international cooperation through exchange of best practices, capacity building and provision of technical assistance and we are also focusing on the inclusion of persons with disabilities in formulation of development policies and also enhancing their accessibility to education, healthcare and employment is utmost necessary,” he concluded.
FEDOMA is an umbrella organization with ten affiliate Disabled People’s Organization (DOPs) which works to enhance the welfare of persons with disabilities in Malawi and it believes that an inclusive society is a key to sustainable development of every nation.