34 YEARS IN EXISTENCE, NUDIPU TAKES STOCK OF KEY MILESTONES OF SERVICE
DELIVERY TOWARDS PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES IN UGANDA
DELIVERY TOWARDS PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES IN UGANDA
Esther Kyozira, Chief Executive Officer-NUDIPU According to a Chinese proverb by Lao Tzu, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”; indeed, the National Union of Disabled Persons of Uganda (NUDIPU) has come from far having taken our first step on November
14th, 1987 with a prime target of empowering persons with disabilities. In 2003, we opened up for the Blind and the Deaf persons; and other mobilized groups like persons with Mental and Psycho-social disabilities, Epilepsy and parents of children with intellectual disabilities were brought on board in 2008.
In order to be more accommodative and respond to the provisions of the international human rights laws, the most marginalized disabilities such as persons with albinism, little people and persons with DeafBlindness joined us in 2013 and we maintain an open door to welcome more mobilized groups into the fold.
These Associations of Persons with Disabilities are now referred to as Organisations of Persons with Disabilities (OPDs). NUDIPU together with these OPDs has since 1987 worked to break the tradition that tended to treatpersons with disabilities as objects of charity and of medical care.
34 years down the road, NUDIPU has registered huge milestones; special thanks to all our Development Partners for the support, all Organisations of Persons with Disabilities and mainstream actors including government, Civil Society Organizations and the private sector for the collaboration and solidarity;
Under legal and policy reform, NUDIPU influenced the ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) together with its Optional Protocol on 28th of September 2008 to guarantee the rights of persons with disabilities and advocated for its domestication by influencing
the development of specific disability laws, policies and ordinances including the Persons with Disabilities Act, Mental Health Act, and the Building Control Act.
Using a disability lens, we have been able to input into other mainstream laws such as, the 1995 Constitution of Uganda, the Local Government Act, the Traffic and Road Safety Act among others with a basis for disability inclusion.
We have continued advocacy efforts to encourage the participation of persons with disabilities in the development agenda of the country with effective participation in various political processes from the local to the national levels. To this end, we now have representatives in the Local Councils and at Parliament including on boards and Commissions.
Under economic empowerment of persons with disabilities, we developed the iSAVE Socio-Economic Empowerment model which encourages persons with disabilities to form groups for purposes of promoting saving together. By 2019, 1500 savings groups had been formed with an accumulated total savings of over UGX 7 billion and over 3,843 persons with disabilities had benefited from the savings. The iSAVE model so far, has helped build our assets base and improve livelihoods of Persons with disabilities in over 30 districts since inception. We look forward to scaling it up across the country.
Under Disability Inclusive Disaster Risk Reduction, we have ensured that Persons with disabilities are better protected in situations of risk and humanitarian emergencies; there have been strengthened engagement with disaster prone districts like Bududa, Kasese and Isingiro to equip district officers and implementing partners with knowledge on disability inclusion so that they come up with interventions for persons with disabilities before, during and after a disaster has occurred. Engagements with these districts has resulted into the development of the districts multi-hazard contingency plans with a lens for disability inclusion. Besides, NUDIPU directly engaged with
World Food Program and trained her staff, food and cash management committees on disability inclusion. This would later enable them improve their handling of refugees with disabilities.
In order to ensure access to quality inclusive Education by learners with disabilities, we have been instrumental in influencing systems directly and indirectly through research and participation in several strategic advocacy engagements with line Government and non-Government actors to ensure the participation and retention of learners with disabilities in schools. Besides, we have been instrumental in providing accessible home reading materials to learners with disabilities as one of the mitigation responses to home-based learning.
We also partnered with Kyambogo University, Uganda Society for the Disabled Children, National Curriculum Development Centre, Ministry of Education and Sports to acquire capacity to provide Inclusive Education to Children with Disabilities in Uganda. This increased the participation of NUDIPU
in education policy formulation and reviews and development of a distance learning certificate course for college principle tutors and we have also been able to mobilize and train over 167 Youth with Disabilities at university level in employable skills and linked them to both private and public employers. We have also developed and maintained a data base of about 300 competently trained seeking jobs.
We have also established and sustained partnership with the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development, Light for the World, Human Resource Managers Association of Uganda and National Organisation of Trade Unions to promote the inclusive employment of persons with disabilities in Uganda and in partnership with the federation of Uganda Employers, we have established the Uganda Business and Disability Network with the goal of influencing the business and private sectors to open their doors towards inclusive employment for persons with disabilities. To this end, an online job portal to provide an interface platform to both job seekers with disabilities and employers was launched.
In short, we have been able to empower Persons with disabilities with different professional and soft skills in rehabilitation, Technology, advocacy, social, cultural and economic empowerment to the extent that we are proud to say that the disability fraternity can now be looked at as persons who can ably contribute to our National Development.
We continue to mobilize all disability categories into organizations able to advocate and advance their rights without necessarily looking to the umbrella alone although we continue to build a solid foundation were Persons with disabilities remain mobilized and empowered to claim and enjoy
their fundamental human rights and to get more economically empowered Persons with disabilities able to manage their disabilities. We are also mobilizing Persons with disabilities to participate in other mainstream programs including the youth livelihood program, Operation wealth creation and the parish model program and are continuing to engage government to review the Employment Act 2006 by factoring in the reasonable accommodation needs of employees with disabilities, a quota system and to work closely with Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) on
the operationalization of Gender and Equity compliance. It certainly has not been smooth sailing all through, we have been faced with key structural challenges particularly, the decentralization system of mapping out district units from time to time – this has made it difficult for us to reach out to all Persons with disabilities compounded with a limited resource envelope. While a number of positive legislation has been enacted, for instance the Traffic and Road Safety Act with a provision to the effect that wherever Traffic Lights have been installed, there should be bells, as well, to help Persons with disabilities to safely cross the roads; the implementation remains a far-fetched cry. The costs related to managing specific disabilities are unreasonably high yet there are no specific social protection interventions for individuals. While there have been some challenges encountered in the course of our work in advocacy for inclusion of persons with disabilities, we look back at NUDIP’s 34 years of existence with a sense of achievement and optimism because of what we have done together over the years.
From 2020 up to 2024, NUDIPU has envisioned a just and fair society where persons with disabilities live prosperous and dignified lives. This is through advocacy for their rights and improved livelihoods in a unified voice. Our focus is on three strategic areas which are; Strengthening the capacities of
organizations of persons with disabilities to deliver on their mandates, Policies of government and other actors are inclusive to address the needs of Persons with Disabilities and needs and concerns of Persons with Disabilities are effectively included in socio-economic empowerment programmes in Uganda. We call upon the public to stand with us in the continued efforts for inclusion of persons with disabilities.
This journey would not have been possible without the relentless contribution of our generous donors and partners namely: NAD; CBM; DRF; GIZ; CAFORD; OXFAM; DPOD; WFP; OSIEA; ADD INTERNATIONAL; SIGHT SAVERS; DIAKONI; LFW; BIC; ADF; ZOA; IDA; USAID; CSU; DGF; ABILIS; DAYWD and the government of Uganda.
CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER-NUDIPU