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Our History

Before the formation of NUDIPU in November1987, persons with disabilities (PWDs) in Uganda were not involved in the planning and implementation of programmes meant to benefit them. Mainstream programs and the environment were constructed/ designed in a manner that depicted lack of recognition and sensitivity to the needs of PWDs.
The services provided emphasized separation of PWDs from the communities and were seen as preserve for charity endeavours. This scenario obscured and isolated disability issues from the society's main concerns, divided PWDs along largely medical lines, created dependency on institutions; stifled individual initiatives, killed the morale, self esteem and confidence amongst PWDs.

By establishing NUDIPU, the founders aimed at creating a unified voice to challenge the above situation, embark on a systematic and long drawn out straggle to gradually free persons with disabilities from the bondage that reduced them to sub-humans.

The history of the disability movement in Uganda is rather interesting, fascinating and inspirational. It is a history of a humble beginning rising to recognition and pride but with apparent unresolved challenges. The forces that propelled NUDIPU into one of the most dynamic and internationally recognized civil rights movement of PWDs in Uganda were both internal and external to the community of PWDs.

The idea of forming a national umbrella organization started way back around 1976 but the momentum was lost during the 1979- liberation war between Uganda and Tanzania. Again around 1981-1987, PWDs in urban areas of Kampala and Mbarara rehabilitation centres (Kireka and Ruti) were slowly but steadily hatching the idea of forming an association that would bring all PWDs together, raise awareness on the plight of PWDs, provide or influence provision of services in favour of persons with disabilities (PWDs).

In March 1987, at Kireka Industrial Rehabilitation Centre, more than sixty (60) persons with disabilities (PWDs) elected the first interim committee which worked towards the planning and holding of a more representative gathering. The committee included:

  • Mr. Ben Male Chairperson
  • Ms Mary Aniyamuzala Vice - Chairperson
  • Ms Joyce Mwenyango Secretary
  • Mr. Sam Oluka Vice Secretary
  • Mr. David Mugerwa Treasurer
  • Mr. Odubuwun Faustin Vice Treasurer
  • Mr. David Seguya Member
  • Mr. Byekwaso Charles Member
  • The idea of forming a national umbrella organization fully materialized on 14th November 1987 when NUDIPU was formally launched at a meeting of 17 associations of PWDs with various disabilities that gathered at Mbarara- Tukore Invalids' School. The school is located 8kms along Mbarara - Kabale road.

    The Union was launched by 17 formerly existing associations of PWDs, which included among others the following:

  • Uganda National Association of the Blind (UNAB)- Founded in 1970
  • Uganda National Association of the Deaf (UNAD) - Founded in 1973
  • Voice of the Disabled in Uganda (VODU) - Based at Kireka
  • Uganda Crafts- Kampala
  • Invalids' Salvation Stream (ISS) - Based in Mbarara at Tukore
  • Kampala Disabled People's Business Association - Kampala
  • Uganda Disabled Women's Association (UDWA) - Based at Kireka
  • Although some of the mentioned associations no longer exist or are not active, their vision and mission is still manifested in the work of NUDIPU.
    In terms of International and Continental developments in the disability movement, the launching of NUDIPU as an all-embracing umbrella organization of all PWDs in the country was an event of the first of its kind on the African Continent. The formation of NUDIPU and her successes was later on to be used as a model for advancing PWDs rights through forming organizations of PWDs that cut across geographical and medical lines or disabilities.

    The seminar which gave birth to the National Umbrella organization of all PWDs in Uganda (NUDIPU) was fully funded by OXFAM. This laid a firm foundation on which people with disabilities would always build permanent houses. The seminar was officially opened by Mr. C. Muyingo the then Principal Rehabilitation Officer on behalf of the Minister of Local Government and commissioned by Mr. Rukeca the Commissioner Department of Community Development, Ministry of Local Government.
    During the elections, all types of handicaps were represented with the exception of the mentally handicapped. It was however, resolved that the National Association for the mentally handicapped be contacted and given chance to choose someone to represent them on the leadership of the umbrella. The elected officials of the first Executive (Board of Directors) were:-

  • Mr. Eliphaz Mazima Chairperson
  • Ms. Bena Tumwesigye Vice Chairperson
  • Ms. Mary Aniyamuzala Secretary General
  • Ms. Joyce Mwenyango Assistant General secretary
  • Mr. Fred Ssejjemba Publicity Secretary
  • Mr. Faustin Odubuwun Assistant Publicity secretary
  • Mr. Oluka Sam Otim Treasurer
  • Ms. Betty Kinene Assistant Treasurer
  • The Officials were given powers to co-opt and consult other organizations and stakeholders. The co-opted members included;

  • Mr. Edrake Ssendagire - Deaf
  • Mr. Mbazira - Blind
  • Mr. Nsimbe - Blind
  • Participants, who attended the first meeting in November, 1987 passed a number of resolutions to be tabled to the government with the sole aim of uplifting the welfare of people with disabilities in Uganda. Follow up of the resolutions formed item number one of the action plan for the NUDIPU elected officials. The implementation of the action plan on one hand seemed to be a hard task because the environment tended to be dominated by negative attitudes towards persons with disabilities. On the other hand, the seed of the Mbarara spirit had fallen on fertile ground which was an encouragement to people with disabilities.

    At the moment, NUDIPU has managed to hold 7 General Assemblies and led by 6 committed and hard working Chairpersons who include;

  • Late- Eliphaz Mazima 1987-1989
  • Late- Haji Haruna Njuki mulumba 1990-1992
  • Late- Nelson Isiko 1993-1994
  • Late Christine Kania 1995-1997
  • Hon. Alex Ndeezi 1998-2003
  • Mr. Kinubi Francis 2004-2013
  • The 17 Associations represented at the first general meeting were all small associations, none of which could marshal a membership of more than 50 people each. Even though all major categories of disabilities were represented, the total number of NUDIPU's individual members was just around 400 people scattered in various towns of Uganda. There was hardly any member from strictly rural areas. NUDIPU was indeed the type of a simple organization that would rightly be characterized as starting from scratch- no staff, no institutional facilities like an office, equipments and no funds.

    The biggest and most important asset of the organization was the ambition and exceptionally high morale of the membership and leadership. The vision of the founders was also quite clear even though strategies for realizing the vision remained blurred up to the year 1989.

    The high morale and motivation of the leadership was not derived from hope to achieve material or financial gain since the organization had no money or assets. It was the ambition and vision to be seen by society as doing something to improve their lives, changing the traditional stereotyped system that marginalized them, despised them, only looked at the negative aspects of their disabilities, undervalued them and confined them to the lowest positions in society.

    With this vision, the leadership constantly made a call for combined efforts from all corners in order to reduce on the disabling and handicapping conditions, which deprive people with disabilities of the right to live happily in community.

    Many persons with disabilities and some committed able-bodied persons of good will did make tremendous sacrifices in terms of energy, time and money in order to realize the mission they fervently believed in. Some lost their jobs as much of their time was devoted to voluntary work in NUDIPU. In the spirit of self-reliance, members made voluntary contributions for items like stationery, postage and typing services.

    It is this spirit of devotion, voluntarism and sacrifice together with the support of individuals and NGOs of good will, coupled with the favourable political environment created by the National Resistance Movement that helped to drive and turn NUDIPU into one of the strongest national advocacy and lobbying organization championing the cause of marginalized groups in Uganda.

    Events in the international arena were also generating inspiration and shaping the perception of disability amongst the leaders of PWDs in the country. The UN Decade of Disabled Persons (1983-1992), World Program of Action concerning disabled persons and the United Nations Standard Rules on equalization of opportunities for PWDs were slowly but gradually spreading ideas and new ways of thinking on disability. Slogans like "disability is not inability" "nothing for us without us" was gaining ground in Uganda.

    The global philosophy on disability among other things emphasized the need for strong organizations of PWDs as a pre-condition for their total liberation. The voice of NUDIPU is now heard in all villages of Uganda where it has members and representatives in the local councils. It is heard in parliament where it is represented by five (5) MPs.

    NUDIPU is recognized by the NGO community and has been included in various legislative instruments or Acts of Parliament like the Local Government Act of 1997, the Uganda communications Act 1998, Uganda Traffic and road Safety Act 1998, UNISE Act 1998, Parliamentary Elections act, 2001. NUDIPU did influence the enactment of Uganda's supreme law in such a way that various constitutional provisions on disability that are responsive to the needs of PWDs were included in the 1995 Constitution of Uganda.

    NUDIPU is legally recognized by the government through the Non-governmental organizations Board. The structure of NUDIPU is used by the Electoral Commission to conduct elections of representatives of PWDs in the local councils and parliament. As the national and officially recognized organization of PWDs in the country, the government and various NGOs always consult NUDIPU on matters of disability.

    Specific programs have been designed in response to membership needs and these form the basis of NUDIPU action on various issues of concern to PWDs. The programs have attracted donors and partners who support NUDIPU vision and mission.


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