African Decade by pengxiang


									     African Decade
          of Disabled Persons 2000 to 2009
        Newsletter of the Southern Africa Federation of the Disabled – May 2004

Dear Friends!
Some of you will still remember that in September 2003 SAFOD launched a simple
newsletter called the African Decade immediately following a Disability Human Rights
Conference held in Ondangwa, Namibia, in September, 2003. At that Conference, the newly
appointed Chief Executive Officer of the newly established Secretariat for the African Decade
of Persons with Disabilities, Mr Shuaib Chalklen, made a clear presentation of his role as
Chief Implementer of the African Decade Plan of Action.

Briefly, Shuaib’s office, based in Cape Town, South Africa, was established (though rather
late) to:

• Co-ordinate the activities of the Decade in the whole of Africa;
• Build capacity of disabled people’s organisations (DPOs) and governments around the
  Continental Plan of Action adopted by the African Union Heads of State and Government
  at their 38th Session held in Durban, South Africa, in July 2002;
• Promote knowledge sharing among DPOs, governments, civil society organisations
 (CSOs), local authorities and the private sector;
• Promote formulation and implementation of national policies, programmes and legislation
  on disability (this includes influencing national governments and the international
  community to allocate resources towards disability).

Today, almost eight months later after the historic Ondangwa Conference, we would like to
reflect on the range of activities of the Decade Secretariat, African Union member states, the
international community and the disability movement itself in an effort to realise the
objectives of the African Decade.

In doing this, we are reminded of and/or spurred by the fact that so far we have gone almost
half way through the Decade and any outstanding work will need to be done in the remaining
five years (2005 – 2009). In other words, only five years are remaining for people who have
anything to do with the Decade to go through their action plans. Perhaps what is needed
from NOW on is acceleration of the Decade implementation process; and Shuaib Chalklen,
being in the driving seat, should see himself as the “accelerator” to ensure that the expected
results of the Decade are achieved by the year 2009.

All those that have something to do with the Decade, that is the mass of stakeholders and
different levels being referred to above, should have adequate information on the Decade
and what is expected of them. They need to be fully aware of their roles and/or
responsibilities. Without adequate and/or appropriate information on what the African
Decade is all about, there is very little that will be achieved by the Decade programme; in
which case there may be the need to do what our colleagues in the Asian and Pacific Region
did – i.e. consider extending the Decade for another ten years beyond 2009?! In other
words, after 2009 the Decade may need to be extended to run from, say 2010 to 2019.
Looking back at the United Nations Decade of Disabled Persons of 1983 – 1992 it will be
recalled that one of the reasons why the Global Decade had very little impact in Africa was
simply a lack of dissemination of information on the World Programmer of Action Concerning
Disabled Persons adopted by the United Nations General Assembly at its 37th regular
session on 31 December 1982. The purpose of the World Programmer of Action was “to
promote effective measures for prevention of disability, rehabilitation and the realisation of
the goals of full participation of disabled persons in social life and development and of
equality”. The UN Decade was a period in which UN member states were expected to
implement the World Programme of Action. In Africa information about the World Programme
and the Global Decade was either not sufficient or it was largely ignored.

The African Decade should not be a wasted period as was the case with the Global Decade.
The Continental Plan of Action for the African Decade was developed by all parties
concerned, i.e. African Union (AU) member states, disabled people’s organisations and other
stakeholders in Africa as a tool for promoting effective measures for the realisation of the
letter and spirit of the Decade objectives.

The following is a summary of the Decade objectives as highlighted
in the Continental Plan of Action:

• Formulation and implementation of national policies, programmes and legislation to
    promote the full and equal participation of persons with disabilities;
•   Promoting the participation of persons with disabilities (including youth, women and
    children) in the process of economic and social development;
•   Promoting the self-representation of persons with disabilities in all public-decision-making
•   Enhancing support services for persons with disabilities;
•   Promoting special measures for children, youth, women and elderly persons with
•   Ensure and improve access of persons with disabilities to rehabilitation, education,
    training, employment, sports, the cultural and physical environment;
•   Preventing causes of disability;
•   Promoting and protecting disability rights as human rights issues;
•   Supporting the development and strengthening of disabled persons’ organisations
•   Mobilisation of resources;
•   Provision of mechanisms for co-ordination, monitoring and evaluation of the African
    Decade of Persons with Disabilities; and
•   Advocating and raising disability awareness in general and awareness of the African
    Decade of Persons with Disabilities in particular.

Some readers of this Newsletter may have heard or read about these objectives many more
times before but they are being repeated here for emphasis and as a reminder for all those
who need to act on the African Decade.

As alluded to earlier on, our Decade should not be counted among those that have failed
before. It should succeed and thus result in the improvement of the quality of life of people
with disabilities across the entire African continent. Awareness of the Decade must be raised
and felt in all the African Union member states, and the main actors who should take the lead
in this process are the Decade Secretariat itself, African Rehabilitation Institute (ARI), Pan
African Federation of the Disabled (PAFOD) and its member organisations, ministries of
information in AU member states, the media, and other development partners.

What is encouraging is that there are some governments that have either launched or are in
the process of launching their respective disability programmes and/or action plans in terms
of the African Decade. For example, Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia,
South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe are some of the countries in the SADC and SAFOD
member countries that have so far come up with national policies to uphold the rights and
interests of people with disabilities. This shows that some governments in the continent are
aware of what needs to be done and can therefore use their experiences to urge other AU
member states to emulate them.

At the African Union level a special fund should be set up to facilitate implementation of the
Decade activities at continental, regional and national levels so that the Continental Plan of
Action as pronounced and adopted by the very same AU will not be reduced to a “talk show”.
In fact, AU governments and state organs should take the lead and responsibility for the
successful implementation of the Decade Continental Plan of Action.

We are also encouraged by the growing positive response to the Disability
Movement’s call for support from the developed countries and the donor
community towards the African Decade of Disabled Persons.

Here at SAFOD we have been receiving enquiries from a number of governmental and non-
governmental organisations who want to know more about the Decade and how best they
can render support.

In this instance, the Japanese government, through the Japan International Co-operation
Agency (JICA) in 2002 offered to contribute to the African Decade through support of a
capacity building strategy for Disabled People’s Organisations (DPOs) in Southern Africa. In
terms of the agreement to support (ATS) between JICA and the governments of the SAFOD
member countries (Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South
Africa, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe) DPO leaders from Southern Africa are given the
opportunity to travel to Japan and Thailand to participate in a three-week training course and
exchange visit on “Mainstreaming and Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities in Southern
Africa”. JICA launched the leadership training course in 2002 and which course will be
organised in each year thereafter until 2006. In all there will be a total of five training courses
during the period of support (2002 – 2006). In each year ten DPO leaders, i.e. one from each
SAFOD member country, will participate in the training course. By 2006, 50 leaders will have
been trained.

The course participants are nominated through a careful selection process by their
governments working in consultation with national DPOs and SAFOD; and these must be:
Leaders of national assemblies or DPO co-ordinating bodies; Proficient in spoken and/or
written English; In good health to undergo training; Under the age of fifty (50).

The course, conducted by the DPI Japan Training Institution in Tokyo, seeks to assist DPO
leaders from Southern Africa to:

• Have a deeper understanding of the processes of mainstreaming and empowerment of
  people with disabilities;
• Learn from the “best practices” of the disability and independent living movements in
  Japan and Thailand;
• Explore and learn from the strategies and experiences of the Asian and Pacific Decade
  of Disabled Persons of 1993 – 2002 (extended for another Decade 2003 – 2012);
• Enhance the capacity of Southern African DPO leaders to effectively manage their
  organisations and promote the implementation of the objectives of the African Decade of
  Disabled Persons.

The DPO leaders meeting during their training in Tokyo and Bangkok also use the
opportunity to strengthen their organisations’ linkages and co-operation in this south-south

We have also received support towards the Decade from Action on Disability and
Development (ADD), Disability Awareness in Action (DAA) and other UK based
agencies, and the Norwegian Government through NORAD and the Federation of
Organisations of People with Disabilities in Norway (FFO). The support is for related
activities, particularly in terms of awareness raising and leadership development, research on
the living conditions of people with disabilities, facilitating inclusion of youth and women with
disabilities, and Web-site development.

SAFOD’s co-operation with FFO on some of these activities started in the early years of the
Decade’s inception, whereas ADD and other partners from Nordic countries came in later.
Although not working directly with SAFOD, one of the outstanding development agencies
that helped to chart the way forward for the African Decade is the Swedish International
Development Agency (SIDA) who provided the necessary resources for PAFOD (Pan African
Federation of the Disabled) and its member organisations to develop a Business Plan for the
African Decade. Most of the elements of the PAFOD Business Plan were incorporated into
the Continental Plan of Action. Incidentally, the bulk of the funding for the establishment of
the Decade Secretariat in Cape Town, South Africa, was provided by SIDA!

Hats off to all the individuals, organisations, and countries that have so far contributed to the
African Decade implementation process. At least we have moved a few steps forward in this
process, and there is a lot more that still needs to be done to go through the remaining five
years. As alluded to elsewhere in this article, we would like to call upon the international
donor community, the European Union, Commonwealth, World Bank, United Nations and its
specialised agencies, religious groups, other governmental and non-governmental
organisations, and more importantly the African Union member states and the disabled
people themselves, to put more effort and resources in the realisation of the African Decade
objectives during the next five years.

In making this call, we are mindful of the fact that wars, civil strife and other forms of social
upheavals continue to be the greatest enemies of sustainable development in Africa; and it is
for this reason that we would also wish to urge the AU and its member states to actively work
towards sustained peace for sustainable development. In fact, lasting peace will remain
crucial for Africa’s prosperity and, indeed, for the success of the African Decade of Disabled

Alexander M. Phiri
Secretary General

The next issue of the African Decade of Disabled Persons (2000 – 2009) will focus on Information
and Communication Technology (ICT). Can people with disabilities be empowered through ICT?
How can the poorest of the poor access ICT in Africa? Readers of this Newsletter and SAFOD
members are being urged to share with us their experience (if any) about ICT and disability. Any
interesting contributions and comments will be highlighted in the next issue of the African Decade

For more information please contact the SAFOD Secretariat (see contact details below) or PAFOD
Secretatiat on Tel: 00263-9-880035, Fax/Tel: 00263-9-66764, E-mail:, or
Secretariat for the African Decade of Disabled Persons (SADDP), Mr. Shuaib Chalklen, on
Tel. 0027-82-7751175, E-mail:

    SAFOD – PO Box 2247 – Bulawayo – Zimbabwe – Tel: 00263-9-69356 – Fax: 00263-9-74398
                      E-mail: – web-site:


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