Building vibrant and tolerant democracies
This study is a companion to the status of disability rights in southern Africa report and provides more detailed information on each of the nine countries included in the study. Together they paint a vivid and depressing picture of the marginalisation of disabled people, the huge challenges faced by disabled peoples’ organisations (DPOs) and the lack of any focus on disability rights by governments across the region – from Angola to Mozambique to Zimbabwe.
Back in 2010, the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA) – in partnership with Open Society Foundations’ Disability Rights Initiative and the Open Society Foundation for South Africa – undertook a research project into disability rights in nine southern African countries to develop a more comprehensive understanding of the state of disability in the region.
Both the overview and this country profiles report – covering Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe – have just been released and the findings highlight the urgent need for action around disability rights.
This report provides invaluable insights into the different situations in each of the countries, highlighting the main concerns and challenges as well as key success stories and best practices.
But, while the status of disability rights varies from country to country, this research shows that in general people living with disabilities (PWD) are the most marginalised people in a region where life is already difficult for the majority of the population. PWD have the highest rates of poverty, deprivation, malnutrition, ill-health and child mortality – and have been worst affected by the deteriorating conditions across the region.
In all countries, the rights of PWD are not given any priority by their governments. Usually, any ministry dealing with disability also has to address other marginalised groups such as women and children, so disability rights and the protection of PWD receive minimal state funding and focus.
Most of the organisations and individuals interviewed during the research had to conduct their activities and advocacy work on an extremely tight budget – in most cases with little or no state support. In depth country interviews showed that the continued survival of disability rights organisations was one of their greatest challenges.
Yet despite all the hardships faced by the disability community, remarkable work is taking place – as the country-specific reports in this volume outline. But there is still an enormous amount of work to be done to make a genuine difference to the lives of PWDs.
Indeed, people with disabilities and disability issues are severely neglected in most countries in southern Africa, and most of the DPOs appear to be ineffective. Therefore, it is time for disability activists to look for new ideas and fresh inspiration, which should, at the very least, include innovative ways to persuade governments and donors to try out new approaches and pilot projects.
This report and its sister publication will hopefully help to kick-start that process by providing critical information and thought-provoking recommendations – and simply by highlighting the often ignored plight of people living with disabilities.ShareThis