Persons with disability prod states

September 15, 2008 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, September 15 – A regional conference on Monday called on African governments to prioritise the inclusion of persons with disabilities (PWDs) while implementing Millennium Development Goals.

Speaking after opening the Conference, Ecumenical Disability Advocates Network (EDAN) director Samuel Kabue complained that the group had been left out of the MDGs despite forming the bigger portion of those who’ve been disadvantaged due to poor policies.

“There is no way you can talk of fighting poverty when you have left out 10 percent of the population. This is what brings us here because the formulators of the MDGs forgot that there were issues pertinent to people with disabilities and so we have lost seven years without engaging on these issues,” he said.

Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka said that the group risked being left out the poverty reduction programme’s benefits and advised them to petition their respective governments to mainstream disability issues in the MDG’s plan of action.

“It is a matter of concern that the MDG’s have no specific focus on people with disabilities.  The implication of this is that PWDs have continued to be at the periphery of MDG campaigns and its implementation at the national, regional and global levels. Unless this scenario is reversed, PWDs will almost certainly miss out on poverty reduction gains by the target year of 2015,” the VP said.

He pledged that the Kenyan government would fast track the implementation of the Disability Act and securely establish the Disability Fund to empower people with disabilities.

However, Kabue argued that the Fund had not developed since inception and added that they were in talks with the Ministry to have it improved.

The EDAN director stated that it was unjust that the fund – which is backed by legislation – had not attracted government support, and yet both the youth and women enterprise funds had been expanded twice.

Musyoka said the government was working on the domestication and implementation process of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities that came into force in May this year.

The VP said that the convention provided a tool and yardstick to ensure PWDs participate and benefit from development initiatives like other people.

Speakers at the conference raised concern that most African countries might achieve the MDGs but would fail to make an impact on the poorer population due to bad policies that marginalise the disabled.

The Director of the United Nations Millennium Campaign-Africa, Dr Tajudeen Raheem, stressed the need for political will by Africa’s leaders on matters facing PWDs, saying most countries had marginalised the group and condemned them to a world of extreme poverty.


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