Southern Africa Federation of the Disabled (SAFOD)

Disability & Inclusive Development


Living Conditions of PWDs in SADC

Research that SAFOD and other strategic partners have carried out in the region indicate that the level of living conditions among Persons with Disabilities is systematically lower than among people without disabilities. 
This implies that Persons with Disabilities are denied their human rights as well as equal opportunities to participate and contribute to their society. And there are no adequate concrete legislative and programmatic interventions to address the myriad challenges that Persons with Disabilities in the region continue to face day in and day out.

Call for Inclusive Development in SADC

Inclusive development consists of ensuring that all marginalized and excluded groups are stakeholders in development processes. Currently many groups are excluded from development in the SADC because of their gender, ethnicity, age, sexual orientation, and disability. The effects of such exclusion are rising levels of inequality in the region. 
Development cannot effectively reduce poverty unless all groups contribute to the creation of opportunities, share the benefits of development and participate in decision making.
Call for Inclusive Development in SADC. The goal of inclusive development is to achieve an inclusive society, able to accommodate differences and to value diversity.
Disability-inclusive development refers to "ensuring that all phases of the development cycle (design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation) include a disability dimension and that persons with disabilities are meaningfully and effectively participating in development processes and policies.

Mainstreaming disability in SADC

“Mainstreaming a disability perspective is the process of assessing the implications for women and men with disabilities of any planned action, including legislation, policies and programmes, in all areas and at all levels.  It is a strategy for making people with disabilities’ concerns and experiences an integral dimension of the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of policies and programmes in all political, economic and societal spheres so that women and men with disabilities benefit equally and inequality is not perpetuated. 
The ultimate goal is to achieve disability equality”
It is about ensuring that 'ordinary' or ‘generalist’ development activities i.e. not aimed specifically at people with disabilities also benefit them.
Moreover, it is essential that these actions can be complemented by initiatives targeting specifically at people with disabilities, enabling them to obtain the necessary support to equal participation.
Specific actions must be motivated by a common goal of people with disabilities’ inclusion. 

The importance of alliances

"Because inclusion involves everyone in society at all levels, collaboration and networking are core strategies to achieve inclusion”. It is against this background that SAFOD is committed to forming alliances with various stakeholders, including CSOs (like SADC-CNGO), Faith-based organisations (like FOCCISA), and Trade Union bodies (like SATUCC).
Inclusive development goes beyond the sole disability issue. While it is important to understand the specific characteristics enabling effective disability mainstreaming in development, these should be part of a more comprehensive strategy to reduce inequalities and include diversity.
It is particularly important to take into account the multiple identities of a person (sometimes called 'intersectionality'). For example: the women's movement must recognize that there are women with disabilities who have specific perspectives and priorities, and similarly the disability movement must take into account a gender perspective to address the priorities of its women members.
People with disabilities themselves are not a homogeneous group and should not be treated as such. The diversity of identities covers characteristics such as gender, the type of disability, but also age, social class, etc. 
So in respect of all diversities, alliances can be also established between different groups. This because inclusion involves everyone in society at all levels, collaboration and networking are core strategies to achieve inclusion”.

Campaign for a SADC Disability Protocol

Whilst SADC has lagged behind in promoting a regional policy and law to govern Persons with Disability, the United Nations, African Union and East African Community (EAC) have, on the other hand, made significant headway. 
Additionally, it is significant to note that African Ministers responsible for Social Development meeting in Windhoek on 31st December, 2008 adopted the Windhoek Declaration, which extended the AU Continental Decade of Persons with Disabilities.
Currently, SAFOD has began championing a campaign to have the first ever Disability Protocol at SADC. Despite having in place other protocols ranging from Gender to Health, we neither have a policy nor a protocol at SADC level that specifically promotes and protects the rights of Persons with Disabilities. 
Yes, we acknowledge that Article 9 of the SADC Protocol On Gender And Development provides that persons with disabilities must have their health, welfare and other rights promoted and protected, through enacting or reviewing laws and other measures.
Similarly, we acknowledge that Article 15 of the SADC Protocol On Health provides that provides for States Parties co-operate and assist one another to promote effective measures to prevent and manage disabilities; Increase access to improved technology related to assistive devices, and the creation of a barrier free environment for the equalization of opportunities for persons with disabilities; and Promote community-based rehabilitation programmes.
In addition to the two Protocols of Health and Gender and Development, SAFOD recognizes the work that SATUCC and other partners are championing related to Employment and Labour on Persons with disabilities. 
Article 17 of the Draft Protocol being currently championed stipulates that member States shall ensure that persons with disabilities are afforded the rights protected in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, in particular employment and social protection rights. It further states that Member States shall undertake measures to curb discriminatory practices against persons with disabilities, and foster social acceptance and integration of persons with disabilities. 
But what SAFOD and the entire disability sector are saying is that a specific Protocol on Disability would expand on the Article 9, 15 and 17 of the aforementioned documents so  provide adequate policy direction on what really needs to be done by States Parties and other stakeholders to ensure that persons with disabilities are afforded the rights protected in the UNCRPD. 
The declaration calls upon all AU Members States to empower and provide persons with disabilities with equal opportunities, safeguarding their rights and enlisting their participation and mainstreaming them in all development programs. This is a tall order in SADC in the absence of clear policy commitment at the higher level that should trickle down to the national grassroots level.

SAFOD's Key Messages/Issues in Inclusive Development

  1. Ensuring that all marginalized and excluded groups are stakeholders in development processes within SADC.
  2. Ensuring that all phases of the development cycle include a disability dimension and that persons with disabilities are meaningfully and effectively participating in development processes and policies.
  3. Our call lies on the 3 key principles of participation, non-discrimination and accessibility
  4. Education sector plans and whole school improvement approaches must be geared towards transforming mainstream schools to be inclusive, rather than opening more special unit classes.
  5. Community Based Rehabilitation (CBR) programmes must be expanded, strengthened and used as a service delivery model for persons with disabilities.
  6. Disability service delivery performance indicators must be included in service delivery appraisals.
  7. Mandatory screening for disability-causing diseases and impairments must be provided to pregnant mothers and children, in order to be able to provide appropriate medical care on time.
  8. The principles of universal access must be applied to all buildings and facilities, through the use of appropriate accessibility guidelines and standard design requirements for buildings. Families and communities must be educated on simple, inexpensive ways to adapt their homes, facilities and everyday items to accommodate those with disabilities.
  9. Most significantly, SAFOD calls upon other stakeholders to join it in the championing of the SADC Protocol on Disability  which will cover all issues pertaining to disability such as…
  • Disability and economic empowerment
  • HIV /AIDS and Disability
  • Climate Change and disability, etc.
  • And it will promote all rights of PWDs, such as 
  • Children/Youth with disabilities, 
  • Women with disabilities, 
  • Workers with disabilities, etc.

Relevant Resources:

 Disability Indicators For The SDG

 Disability in the SDGs Indicators 

 Infographic: Disability and Inclusive Sustainable and Development Goals


For More Resources