As government prepares to enroll for the mass registration process starting in August 2023, National Union of Disabled Persons of Uganda (NUDIPU) engaged with National Identification and Registration Authority (NIRA) to understand how persons with disabilities can be supported to ensure that they are not left out during the registration process and come up with a policy for efficiency in service delivery.
The engagement was deemed necessary as it sought to address the challenges experienced by persons with disabilities during the previous registration process in 2014 as it limited the process to only three categories of disabilities (hearing impairment, visual impairment and those with physical disabilities) hence leaving out the many other disability categories such as the little people, Albinism, Deaf, Deafblind among many others.
“As we begin with the process of mass enrolment and renewal of national identity cards, a tactile feature has been added to enable those with visual impairment to feel their details captured on the card”. – Rosemary Kisembo – Executive Director, NIRA.
During the engagement meeting, it was noted that the technology used during the 2014 mass registration process did not capture those without hands since it was limited to the capturing of figure thumb prints. Poor attitudes by enumerators, inaccessible registration centres were among the factors that hindered the smooth mass registration process to be inclusive.
<strong>Promoting Disability rights through the bench; NUDIPU trained judicial officers on Disability rights</strong>
Under the theme, “Promoting Disability rights through the bench” NUDIPU in partnership with Judicial Training Institute and PILAC conducted a capacity building training for judicial officers on how to handle matters involving persons with disabilities at Hotel Africana. Much as we have laws, policies such as the constitution, persons with disabilities act which obliges the government and all other persons to respect, uphold and promote the fundamental human rights and freedoms of persons with disabilities, challenges such as inaccessibility especially in old courts, lack of sign language interpreters for the Deaf are still existent.
Deaf persons are told to pay for sign language services which makes it difficult for them to access justice in the courts of law.
Furthermore, the act is still not clear on how persons with mental or psychosocial disabilities can be handled especially when they have relapses.
It is upon such barriers that NUDIPU in partnership with Judicial Training Institute and PILAC capacitated judicial officers by training them on how best they can support the court/judicial processes to ensure that persons with disabilities access justice in the courts of law, through provision of reasonable accommodation, accessible infrastructure and learn how to handle them. The persons with disabilities Act 2020 guarantees protection of the rights of Persons with disabilities including the rights to education, freedom from discrimination, right to health, work and employment, accessibility and reasonable accommodation and access to justice.
While making remarks, Ms. Esther Kyozira the Chief Executive Officer – NUDIPU recognized efforts by the judiciary to serve persons with disabilities as;
1. One of our own who is a person with visual impairment was taken on as a judicial officer.
2. We have a representative on the judicial council.
3. Courts are becoming accessible to persons with physical disabilities.
Much as we have been able to register some achievements in access to justice for Persons with disabilities, there are still many challenges faced by persons with disabilities when it comes to accessing justice in the courts of law.
Given the pressure we go through, we may not have been keen. As administrators of justice, we need to respect all persons including those with disabilities by upholding their dignity while administering Justice”. Lady Justice Dr. Winifred Nabisinde the Resident Judge Jinja district.
She further called on the judicial officers to learn how to identify persons with disabilities, understand their needs and be empathic when dealing with them.
<strong>Amplified: Empowering Persons with Disabilities through Digital Inclusion Training in Eastern Uganda</strong>
In complementing government efforts towards achieving an inclusive digital world, Unwanted Witness in partnership with National Union of Disabled Persons of Uganda- NUDIPU through its Digital Inclusion and Innovation programme are supporting persons with disability groups from the districts unions of; Iganga, Mbale, Mayuge, Jinja, and Kamuli.
Besides improving access and usage of ICTs by Persons with Disabilities, the initiative aims at enabling Persons with Disabilities to participate fully and equally in the information society. Persons with Disability groups received web-based platforms, social media and training on safety and management of websites, as well as desktop computers with internet subscription.
while appreciating Unwanted Witness, Mr. JOHN CHRIS NINSIIMA, DIRECTOR PROGRAMS -NUDIPU thanked them for providing computers and an internet subscription for a full year for each District Union’s Website. He advised on the need for the District Unions to continue with resources mobilisation to enable sustainability of their websites. enough resources to continue paying for their websites.
“we entered an understanding with Unwanted Witness to implement this project of Amplified, the reasons we chose to do that are threefold; the trend of social development is going digital and Persons with Disabilities are left behind in almost all such initiatives”. Says Mr. Ninsiima. This is to ensure that the Persons with Disabilities get onto the digital journey to be able to compete and to live in a digital world.
Twelve organizations have benefited from the program since its initiation in 2022 and the number becomes higher when considered on an individual basis because the organizations also serve different groups of people and lead to a bigger number of beneficiaries”. CHRIS KALEMA, THE DIGITAL INCLUSION AND INNOVATION LEAD AT UNWANTED WITNESS AND THE AMPLIFIED PROJECT LEAD
The Amplified project has made sure that these organisations have their websites and social media platforms. As Unwanted Witness, we ensure that everyone has equal access to digital technology and opportunities.” Chris Kalema Digital and Inclusion Lead, Unwanted Witness and the Amplified Program Lead
“The amplified project by Unwanted Witness has created an opportunity for us to let the world know what we are doing. Initially, we could send them to NUDIPU, our head office but the amplified has empowered us digitally.”KAGGWA ROBERT, ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT OF LUUKA DISTRICT UNION OF PWDS
<strong>An inclusive population census for all persons with disabilities; A call for action by <a>Uganda Bureau of Statistics </a>(UBOS).</strong>
As Uganda prepares to conduct the population census in August 2023, NUDIPU held an engagement meeting with Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS) to review the draft 2023 population questionnaire/ tool in a bid to ensure that it captures all the various disability categories. Among the participants included representatives from organizations of persons with disabilities who were mobilized by NUDIPU to take part in this meeting and ensure that no one is left out during the population census and a representative from Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development.
The purpose of this meeting was to enrich the data collection tool and agree on which areas UBOS can hinge on to come up with reliable data that can further distinguish illness from disability.
Using the Washington group of questions, UBOS was guided during the review of the tool to ensure that it meets the national demand first and ensure that all the disability categories are captured. “As we prepare for the census, NUDIPU will be involved in training of trainers to ensure disability inclusion”. Said Mr. Vicent Fred Ssenono head of department, Demography and social statistics at UBOS.
<strong>Persons with disabilities reap big from the NUDIPU iSAVE Economic Empowerment programme</strong>
With the objective of ensuring that Women and men with disabilities have access to financial services, increased income and social protection, NUDIPU is implementing a Village Saving and Village Association – VSLA methodology of economic empowerment using a unique model known as iSAVE Economic Empowerment programme. Through this model, NUDIPU formed a cumulative total of 634 iSAVE Groups from 15 districts of operation which has seen many persons with disabilities realizing increased income levels, independent living, improved attitudes in participating in various community developmental opportunities as well as decision making platforms.
In the districts of; Mayuge, Moyo, Mpigi, Yumbe, Luuka, Kamuli, Iganga, Apac, Jinja, Buikwe, Adjumani, Oyam, Mityana, Moroto, Kotido, 2,419 iSAVE group members started income generating activities as a result of participating in the programme and 2,696 members had more than one source of income. Members; small scale enterprises included: Petrol stall, Poultry, Piggery, Vegetable, art and craft, welding among others This diversification has promoted resilience by members against changing and extreme livelihood conditions.
NUDIPU Linked a total of 66 iSAVE groups to social security programmes with in the districts of Kamuli, Iganga, Mityana, Apac and Oyam. The groups have benefited in government projects such as operation wealth creation (OWC), Disability grants and Community Driven developments at sub county level. This has improved their household income and boosted their participation towards self-development.
Following the success of the programme, many persons with disabilities have been economically empowered and have been able to sustain their livelihoods. Miria Kwelyowa a thirty year old resident of Luuka a mother of two has lived with a physical disability since she was born and narrates that before joining the NUDIPU iSAVE programme, she had low self-esteem due to stigma and discrimination which affected her psychologically and socially.
It was upon joining the iSAVE group, she was identified and given a wheel a chair which eased her movement to attend the group meetings as well as around the community.
The programme has started building her confidence in interaction with other people within the community and is now patiently waiting to be enrolled in vocational studies/skilling which is usually provided by NUDIPU.
Ssekanabwo Zaina a 34 year old member of Twekembe NUDIPU iSAVE group in Buvuma district is a care taker of a child with hearing impairment and the main breadwinner for the family. She says, her main source of income for her 5 months old charcoal business was the loan she obtained from the group. She started with 7 bags and now has 13 bags of charcoal. She buys a bag at 30,000/= and sells it at 40,000/=.
Zaina appreciated the group for enabling her to save money and take loans that have boosted her business. From her profits, she has been able to buy a goat which gave birth to 1 kid, she intends to put up a farm business from which she can rear goats and cows. As a business woman, she sends charcoal to Masese landing site in Jinja twice a week and plans to get a big store in Masese landing site in Jinja because of the ready market there. Before joining the group, she was a subsistence farmer who depended on food crops for home use.
Another beneficiary of the programme is Ms. Naula Madina, a 45 year old mother of six and bread winner of her family who boasts of the NUDIPU iSAVE programme in Buvuma district as it has greatly improved her livelihood. On joining the iSAVE group, she took a loan of 80,000/= to start the business of Pan cakes and chapatis to boost her local restaurant where she cooks breakfast and lunch. A plate of food ranges from 2,000/= to 3,000/=. She makes a profit of 10,000/=.
Before, she used to sell grass for making brooms and roofing but stopped after she got more asthmatic. She has bigger plans to grow her business and have a retail shop. Joining the iSAVE group has enabled her to raise school fees for her two children who are in senior three and four. Madina encourages other persons with disabilities to join the NUDIPU iSAVE programme.
NUDIPU joined the rest of the world in commemorating the international woman’s day annually held on 8th March 2023 under the theme DigitAll: Innovation and Technology for gender equality, we recognized the existing innovations and technologies that have enabled women and girls to be able to compete with their male counterparts to thrive in the global village we live in. Despite the growing trends around the different innovations and technological advancements, women particularly those with disabilities continue to be left behind due to the unfavorable policies and environment which leaves them in vulnerable situations.
The existing technologies limit persons especially women with disabilities and puts them at a disadvantage due to the persistent gender gap in digital access which keeps them from unlocking technology’s full potential. Women with disabilities have little or no participation in tech design and governance and further more are exposed to the pervasive threat of online gender-based violence coupled with lack of legal recourse forcing them out of the digital spaces that they may occupy.
Growing inequalities among women especially those with disabilities are becoming increasingly evident in the context of digital skills and access to technologies as they are left behind due to the digital gender divide. Persons with disabilities particularly women cannot easily afford the equipments due to high taxes imposed on them for example the smart phones, jaws which is a talking software, gadgets that help in magnifying screens, hearing loops that can help to amplify sounds and affordability in terms of a challenge plus limited skills and knowledge in using these gadgets.
NUDIPU has taken a step to see how to mitigate some of the challenges and is currently implementing a programme on inclusive ICTs for persons with disabilities together with Eight Tech Consults supported by Uganda Communications Commission. This programme aims at; increasing access to ICT equipments in communities, increasing knowledge of persons with disabilities to utilize the gadgets that exist in the market and having a database for persons with disabilities aimed at identifying persons with disabilities, their caretakers and service providers so as to improve service delivery.
As NUDIPU, we want this programme to cover the entire country by enabling persons with disabilities to get knowledge and skills especially those in communities on how to use the equipments and the observatory is easily appreciated by persons with disabilities.
As advocacy organization, our interest is to see that we have a national policy that talks about inclusive ICT for persons with disabilities and as government is coming up with a national policy on ICT. NUDIPU appealed to government that the issues that were already submitted to be considered to ensure that persons with disabilities are counted among persons who mostly utilize the ICTc and called for more innovation to enable all disability categories to be catered for, for purposes of leaving no one behind as we strive to achieve the Agenda 2030.
<a><strong>Inclusive Education capacity building for Organizations of persons with disabilities (OPDs) and in-service </strong></a><strong>teachers.</strong>
NUDIPU successfully rolled out module 4 which is also the final module for OPDs to district union members, Councillors for persons with disabilities, Parents of children with disabilities, PTAs and SMCs in the 8 districts of; Yumbe, Moyo, Gulu, Amuru, Luuka, Mayuge, Wakiso and Mpigi aimed at supporting the District Unions develop sustainability strategies for inclusive education implementation now and after the phasing out of the Programme.
245 participants, 163 male and 82 female were trained on the advocacy manual and strategic plans out of which; 45 were males and 28 were females with disabilities, District Education Officers, local council five chairpersons, District Speakers, district planners, inspectors of schools, community development officers, implementing partners, head teachers of the old, new pilot schools including those of the new secondary pilot schools in which NUDIPU will be moving to, representatives of parents of children living with disabilities, local leaders and religious leaders.
NUDIPU is expanding its implementation of inclusive education to secondary schools to facilitate the transition of learners that are finishing primary education. The selected pilot secondary schools include; Kigandalo secondary school (Mayuge), Moyo senior secondary school (Moyo), St. Muggaga senior secondary school (Mpigi), Kiyunga senior secondary school (Luuka), Kei Seed secondary school (Yumbe), Palaro Seed secondary school, Pabo senior secondary school (Amuru), Nsangi secondary school (Wakiso).
NUDIPU rolled out module 5 to the in-service teachers in the NFA district of Sheema and Kamwenge, in the six schools that include, Ishekye Primary school, Bugongi central Primary school, Kagazi primary school, Kamwenge Primary school, Malele Primary school and Rwamwanjja Primary school. The module was about building teachers capacity to develop Individual education plans for learners with special learning needs.
<strong>NUDIPU advocacy efforts towards Disability inclusive Disaster Risk Reduction interventions.</strong>
NUDIPU under the Disability inclusive Disaster Risk Reduction (DiDRR) project held a joint planning meeting with the DiDRR core group members from organizations of persons with disabilities and their executive directors at NUDIPU head office. While profiling achievements of the project last year, it was noted that NUDIPU was the only organization of persons with disabilities from Africa that participated in the Global Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) meeting in Bali, Indonesia and our submission was captured by UNDRR and can be accessed on the link below;
The project saw the increment in representation of persons with disabilities in DRR district Committees for example in 2022, Bududa district formally appointed Mr. Wamakiya James the chairperson Bududa District Union of persons with disabilities to represent persons with disabilities on the Bududa District Disaster Management Committee (DDMC).
For Kasese district, YAGANET co-opted Monday Rosette, a representative of Persons with Disabilities on their Board of Directors. CSO partners have started involving NUDIPU and disability leadership at the district level in their DRR program as a result from NUDIPU’s advocacy engagements on the need for meaningful representation of persons with disabilities in the CSO discussions on DRR.
In Isingiro district, NUDIPU is invited for several activities organised by stakeholders such as Civil Society Budget Advocacy Group in collaboration with OXFAM to participate in the partners engagement meeting to identify DRR and Natural Resources Management issues that would constitute a position paper for sharing with Isingiro district in the budget conference where NUDIPU made her input.