The Government of the Republic of Zambia revised the Sixth National Development Plan to align it to the aspirations of the Patriotic Front manifesto. However, Persons with Disabilities are concerned that the revised version is not pro disability as the mainstreaming of disability issues is not prominent. The major concern that has been raised is that the comprehensive section in the original SNDP was dissolved and combined with social protection to be called “Social Protection and Disability”.
The Persons with Disabilities in Zambia insist that the purpose of a complete separate section was meant to give proper mainstreaming guidance of disability issues into other sectors like awareness raising, education, medical care, habilitation and rehabilitation, accessibility and mobility etc. There is need for National Development Plans to be explicit in mainstreaming disability issues into all sectors. The Persons with Disabilities have been swallowed by the word vulnerable groups in the National Plan which is not supposed to be the case. Persons with disabilities need to be clearly stated rather than being implied under vulnerability.
The Persons with Disabilities are claiming for Inclusive education for learners with disabilities this is in line with the submissions that were made to the Ministry of Finance by the Zambia Federation for Disability Organisations in representing the views of the Disabled Peoples Organisations. They emphasized that both objectives and strategies in all levels of education that is; Early Childhood Education, Primary, Secondary and Tertiary education. The PWDs are also demanding that issues of appropriate and accessible infrastructure should be prominent throughout the SNDP. Accessibility is now key as it is emphasized in the Persons with Disabilities Act of 2012.The social protection and disability sector should be clear on free ECE, Primary and Secondary education for persons with disabilities. The sector should also be clear on free medical and health services for persons with disabilities.
It has been emphasized that under the sector of employment and job creation there must be key performance indicators of persons with disabilities (male and female) employed and empowered as entrepreneurs just as it is done for the youths. This is important to measure participation of persons with disabilities in the employment sector and there after plan for interventions to improve their participation. In all key performance indicators the numbers of persons with disabilities should be clear across all sectors. The Persons with Disabilities are also claiming for inclusion in the area of accessing Information Communication Technology. Accessibility to ICT and ICT training for persons with disabilities should be prominent in all National Plans. Moreover, the importation of mobility aids should be clear and prominent and should include importation of vehicles for persons with disabilities.
Persons with Disabilities in Zambia are further claiming for the inclusion of sign language as the 8th official language to carter for the Deaf community. They are also claiming for an independent ministry to handle their issues and not continue under the MCDMCH because they feel their issues are sidelined and the ministry is concentrating on Mother and Child issues that have been added to their mandate. They feel that a detached ministry will represent them wholly and ensure their full inclusion in national plans, policies and pieces of legislation.
The first ZAFOD-COPDAM Capacity Development workshop was held for the Federation (ZAFOD) and the Disabled Peoples Organizations (DPOs) whose purpose was to equip participants with skills and knowledge to enhance their capacity to monitor government’s efforts in mainstreaming disability in its different sectors. During this workshop, four critical sectors were identified which have not been given adequate attention in previous inclusion efforts and were also recommended in the recent past by the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Justice as priority areas and these included the following sectors; Employment and social protection, Accessibility and Mobility, Political and Public life and finally Agriculture, Livestock and fisheries.
ZAFOD-COPDAM has taken note of these priority areas and they have been referred for inclusion into the intended National Disability Implementation Plan that is forth coming. The consultant is almost through with the works on this document and the presentation of the final draft document to the federation will be done on the 11th of November, 2013.