NFPDN hosts Roundtable on Disability-Inclusive Implementation of Agenda 2030

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On 11 June 2016, the National Federation of people with disabilities in Namibia (NFPDN) hosted the round table meeting in Windhoek, Namibia, with Members of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly (JPA), whose theme was “A disability-inclusive implementation of Agenda 2030: how can sustainable development leave no one behind?” The JPA brings together Parliamentarians of Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific (ACP) and members of the European Parliament.

During the Round Table meeting, Ms. Cécile Kashetu Kyenge, Member of the European Parliament and Vice-chair of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly gave a presentation which focused on the ACP-EU JPA resolution of 2011 on the rights of persons with disabilities.

She noted that the ACP-EU JPA resolution was innovative but there had been no proper follow ups. She said it was time to come back to this issue, to look at what had been done and the impact that policies have actually had on the daily lives of persons with disabilities.

One of the questions that were tackled was: Is the right to participation of persons with disabilities actually fulfilled?

“In many countries, disability is still a taboo. It’s a matter of cultural change in our societies, which is directly linked to political and social development. Cultural change was also a pre-requirement for the 2030 agenda,” she noted.

Ms. Kyenge also urged delegates to start speaking about integration policies and build a transversal network of MEPs, ACP MPs and civil society, a platform to share good practices.

Chairperson of NFPDN, Mr. Daniel Trum, gave the presentation on Agenda 2030 in which he also noted that even though persons with disabilities were only mentioned in seven targets, they should be included and participate throughout implementation.

“Namibia has a Human Rights Action Plan which covers seven areas. All these areas recognize persons with disabilities as a disadvantaged group,” he said.

There is a strong disability movement in Namibia who are advocating for the alignment of all national policies with the Unites Nations Convention on The Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD). In addition, the Harambe Prosperity Plan (for the next 4 years) was launched recently by the new Namibian Government.

According the Mr. Trum, the NFPDN will strengthen its relationship with the Namibian Government as it recognizes that persons with disabilities have to be part of the development and implementation process. NFPDN also acknowledged that JPA is an opportunity to communicate and exchange and put pressure on governments in Africa to include persons with disabilities as part of processes and implementation of policies.

Public Participation & Capacity Building for Development

By: Rabasotho Moeletsi (LNFOD)

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Particpants to the LNFOD-LCN event

On the 21st May 2016, the Lesotho Council of NGOs (LCN), in collaboration with the Lesotho National Federation of Organizations of the Disabled (LNFOD), held a forum on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) in Metsimaholo Community Council. Under this initiative, the LCN is using public awareness and participation through a project called Public Participation & NSAs [Non-State Actors] Capacity Building for Development through the support of the European Union (EU) to enable communities to be better informed so as to demand services and their rights from the duty bearers.
For LNFOD, this was a case of ‘killing two birds with one stone’, as the SAFOD’s national affiliate had already established branches within the council and used the event to resuscitate the local Disabled People’s Organizations (DPOs) branches while at the same time deliver a training on human rights aimed at empowering the persons with disabilities at local level to effectively claim their rights.
The training explored the legal and policy instruments which would work as important tools for PWDs when advocating for their rights. It also served as a sensitisation platform for PWDs and community leaders who gained more knowledge on the rights of persons with disabilities. The participants were educated their respective roles that they need to play to ensure that PWDs were not denied their rights in the communities.
Mr. Sekonyela Mapetja from LCN said the rationale for the event was to deepen decentralization in all aspects of life within the communities with a view to increasing participation of members of the public in service delivery by being actively involved in decision-making processes regarding service delivery.
“Within the LCN there is a component of disability, so it would not be wise not to involve affiliated organizations of LNFOD when discussing disability issues since they are experts in that sector,” he said.
The representative of EU, Mrs. Mokome Mafethe, said the EU had been a good development partner to Lesotho and continued to support the country to meet its challenges.
She further explained that EU was supporting Lesotho in the three main areas in an effort to support the implementation of National Strategic Development Plan (NSDP), and the support sought to expand water and sanitation distribution services; contribute to developing a sustainable energy sector; and support good governance.
“These developments are meant to improve the lives of the people of Lesotho and therefore it is important for the people to know about these developments so that they could be part of the process and play a role in holding those given responsibility accountable. The EU has contributed funds to develop community councils through local development grant (LDG),” she said while urging people of Metsi-maholo to demand accountability of their allocated funds to their districts council.
The development activities were expected to be taking place in eight districts, except in Mohale shoek and Thaba-Tseka. The two district council were still in capacity building phase.
LNFOD Projects Coordinator, Mr. Rabasotho Moeletsi, reiterated the importance of participation of persons with disabilities in the development committees. He said violations of rights for persons with disabilities should not be taken lightly and should be reported to the relevant. He disclosed that LNFOD had signed a memorandum of understanding with National University of Lesotho (NUL) whereby the NUL Law Department represents persons with disabilities in the courts of law without them paying legal fees. He therefore encouraged people to report cases whenever the PWDs were denied justice.
He added: “Denying persons with disabilities employment and opportunities to participate in the development of their communities is bad because they are equally paying tax in this country and should be treated equally like every citizen.”
Mr. Moeletsi also emphasised on the importance of the branch DPOs committees to work hard in order to take opportunities brought by the decentralization of services to the community.
He then challenged the audience to make sure that when they reach their homes they make sure that they encourage parents of out of school children with disabilities to take them to school, as this was a violation of children’s right to education.
He introduced the tool which was designed to gather information on individuals who are out of school, while warning parents who fail to send their children with disabilities to school that they risked being taken to the courts of law under the Education Act of 2010. The tool was also given to the chairperson of the branch to register the names of the out of school disabled members so that they could find schools for them with the help of the council.
Ms. Pascalina Letsau, who is gender activist and Editor of the LNFOD’s monthly E-newsletter, spoke against people who tend to take issues of disabilities lightly. She also spoke about domestic violence against girls and women with disabilities and picked one story that she was following up in the district. She advised that people with disabilities should be involved in every committee within the council in the mainstream development agenda of the community councils.
One of the participants, Mrs. ‘Mateboho Monoko commended the work that is done by LNFOD. She testified that since LNFOD started working in the village some years back there had been some positive changes in her family as her disabled child who had lost hope went to vocational training and was now working independently in one of the factories in Maseru.
57 male persons with disabilities and 26 female persons with disabilities (recorded on the attendance list) were reached with the training message. Furthermore, members of the public of around 800 people were reached through the training at this public gathering.

FEDOMA, Partners Submit Petition against Abductions and Killings of Persons with Albinism

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Petitioners making a strong statement!

On the 24th May 2016, the Federation of the Disability Organizations in Malawi (FEDOMA) and Association of People with Albinism in Malawi (APAM), jointly petitioned the Malawi Parliament after a March that attracted various other partner organizations against the increase of incidences of attacks, abductions and killings of persons with albinism in Malawi.
The petition, which also saw the participation of the Chancellor College, a constituent college of the University of Malawi (under the Faculty of Law Disability Rights Programme), NGO Gender Coordination Network, Disabled Women in Africa (DIWA), and Civil Society Network on Transparency and Accountability Citizen Alliance, also bemoaned the lenient punishments meted out against those found guilty of committing the social vice, as well as slow delivery of justice.
In the petition, the partners noted that despite various campaigns and public outcry on the issue, Malawi continued to register higher numbers of attacks perpetrated against persons with albinism.
“It is sad to particularly note that these attacks and murders have been increasing among women and children with albinism. The attacks have brought a lot of fear resulting in many persons with albinism withdrawing from social and economic activities. Many school going children with albinism have dropped out of school,” read the petition in part.
The petition said the cases involving such attacks and killings take unduly too long to be dealt with by the justice system. Furthermore, the prosecutors often proffered lesser charges against the perpetrators for such heinous acts instead of considering charges such as grievous harm, manslaughter, murder or attempted murder. This contributed to the lenient sentences being passed by the courts.
This entire situation, read the petition, demonstrated gross violation of various rights that were enshrined in the Constitution of the Republic of Malawi and the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).
On none hand, the Malawi Constitution entrenched rights such as life, inherent dignity and freedom from all forms of violence for all persons in Malawi without discrimination on the basis of disability or indeed any other status or condition. On the other hand, the CRPD, which Malawi ratified in 2009, also guaranteed these rights to all persons with disabilities, including persons with albinism, imposing an obligation on states parties to effectively protect them from all forms of violence; and to identify, investigate, prosecute and effectively punish all perpetrators with a view to putting a stop to the incidents and violations.
But despite such legal obligations, the petition noted that persons with albinism in Malawi were not enjoying these and many other rights. For this reason, the partners called upon the Parliamentarians to take a number of drastic measures such as tightening the legislative framework, strengthening the judiciary, regulating traditional healers, and establishing the Commission of Enquiry within 21 days, among other measures.
“We call upon the honorable parliamentarians to ensure that the state should take all appropriate legislative, administrative and social measures to ensure the maximum protection and enjoyment of the right to life and other rights of persons with albinism in Malawi. This should include reviewing and amending relevant laws such as the Witchcraft Act, and the Trafficking in Persons Act, to include provisions on persons with disabilities/albinism. We also call for repealing or reviewing of the Anatomy Act,” read the petition.
The petition also recommended that the government should commission the urgent systematic registration of persons with albinism and details of their relatives in all constituencies through a census and put in place mechanisms to track and protect them.
In terms of the security of the persons with albinism, the petition proposed that the government should set aside a fund that should address the education (including provision for enrolling children with albinism in boarding schools), security and health related rights and needs of persons with albinism.
Signed by FEDOMA Chairperson, Nitta Hanjahanja and APAM President, Boniface Massah, the petition also urged Parliamentarians to consider learning from best practices in other countries on how to address the attacks of killing of persons with albinism.

To download the full version of the Petition, Click Here

View complete photo gallery of the event here:

 

SAFOD Presents Preliminary Findings on DPOs Capacity

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SAFOD Programs Manager, George Kayange (Centre), presenting a snapshot of the preliminary findings of the Capacity Assessment of the Southern and Eastern African DPOs.

SAFOD presented preliminary results of the Capacity Assessment of DPOs in Southern and Eastern Africa at a workshop organized by the Africa Child Policy Forum (ACPF) in partnership with Africa Disability Forum (ADF) and Wets Africa Federation of the Disabled (WAFOD), held at Niamey, Niger, from 26th to 27th November 2015.

The regional workshop aimed, among others, to encourage the uptake of the evidence around child protection, with a particular focus on the protection challenges facing children with disabilities and the corresponding responses and generate multi-stakeholder consensus towards action, including on better ways of mainstreaming the rights of CWDs within the DPO agenda.

During the workshop, ACPF also launched the African Knowledge and Learning Platform on Children with Disabilities, which will serve as a knowledge and information sharing platform amongst like-minded organizations on children with disabilities in Africa.

The main objective of the workshop was to present robust evidence towards accelerating regional and national efforts to prevent and respond to violence against children with disabilities. It also drew attention and created visibility to the nature and scope of the problem of violence against children with disabilities in Africa by presenting empirical evidence contained in the African Report on Violence against Children and the African Report in Children with Disabilities: Promising Start and Persisting Challenges. An in-depth analysis of the workshop objectives, goals, and structure can be accessed on the ACPF website here; or by downloading their Concept Note here.

SAFOD was engaged by ACPF to conduct the DPOs’ assessment in Southern and Eastern African sub-regions with a view of informing ACPF and ADF in their efforts of strengthening the formulation and implementation of relevant policies for children with disabilities in Africa.

During the presentation of the preliminary (unofficial) findings  at the workshop, Mr George Kayange, SAFOD’s Programs Manager who was lead researcher for Southern and Eastern Africa sub-regions, indicated that  while there were a lot of DPOs doing quite praiseworthy work on the ground, a lot also needed to be done to ensure that they not only remained strategically focused but were also able to formulate, understand, articulate and re-align their own mission, vision and mandates with the work that they actually do on the ground.

It was also found that most of the DPOs at all levels – national, sub-regional and continental – were still grappling with issues of sustainability and resource mobilization. Both skilled and non-skilled staff were not adequate to effectively carry out programs and activities of the organisations in the their respective DPOs.

To read a full analysis of the findings, including recommendations, look out for the final report on this blog soon. A link to the full report on the ACPF’s website will also be provided.

Delegates Outline Resolutions At Inclusive Education Symposium

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Cantol Pondja, from FAMOD in Mozambique, presenting an inclusive education case study for Mozambique. His presentation was among the five case studies from five countries.

SAFOD organized the Southern Africa Symposium on Inclusive Education from 23 – 24 November 2015, at Holiday Inn, Johannesburg, South Africa.

The symposium sought to consolidate experiences and good practices from the SADC region that would lead to strengthening the capacity of governments, CSOs, and DPOs, in promoting access to quality Inclusive Education.

At the end of the Symposium, participants came up with resolutions committing themselves to specific actions and strategies beyond the event that would accelerate Inclusive Education for learners with disabilities.

During the event, case studies from five countries –  namely Mozambique, Malawi, Zambia, Namibia and Lesotho out of the ten countries where SAFOD works in – were presented and discussed. The five countries represent half of the ten countries in which SAFOD operates.

It is envisaged that this is the first of the inclusive education symposiums that SAFOD is planing to host in future under its inclusive education program, and it is expected that  case studies from the other remaining countries – namely South Africa, Botswana, Angola, Swaziland and Zimbabawe – will be featured and discussed at the next symposium.

The symposium created a platform where practical solutions to some of the challenges were identified and lessons learnt culminated into resolutions. In order to view or download the resolutions, visit SAFOD’s special website dedicated for the symposium here! 

SAFOD Elects New Executive

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FROM LEFT TO RIGHT: Mr Lazaro who maintained his position as Honorary Treasurer/Secretary; Mr Pombal who was outgoing Chairperson; and Mrs Kachaje who replaced Mr Pombal

The Southern Africa Federation of the Disabled (SAFOD) held its 5th General Assembly from 24th to 25th November 2015 in Johannesburg, South Africa, where elections for the new Regional Executive Council (REC) were conducted.

During the REC elections, Mrs Rachel Kachaje from Malawi, won the votes for the position of Chairperson, replacing the outgoing Chairperson, Mr Adao Joao Pombal from Angola. At the time of assuming the position of the chairperson, Mrs Kachaje was also serving as Secretary for the Africa Disability Forum (ADF), as well as Chairperson for the Disabled Women in Africa (DIWA).

Mr Musa Makhanya, from Swaziland, won the seat of Deputy Chairperson (Development). At the time of of being elected, he was Secretary for the Federation of Organisations of Disabled People in Swaziland (FODSWA).

Makhanya’s counterpart, Ms. Nondumiso Shongwe, who was also an Executive Member of the FODSWA at the time of elections, won the position of Deputy Chairperson (Women And Under-Represented Groups), meaning both deputy chairpersons were from Swaziland.

Mr Manuel Alphenso Felia Lazaro, from Mozambique, maintained the position of Honorary Treasurer/Secretary. Mr Lazaro has been representing the Forum of Associations of Disabled People in Mozambique (FAMOD) in the REC for more than eight years. Besides Mrs Kachaje, he is therefore currently the longest serving REC member.

Ms Masenate Ntahli Griffiths, from Lesotho, won the seat of Chairperson of the Regional Women’s Committee. She represented the Lesotho National Federation of the Disabled (LNFOD).

The position of the Chairperson of the Youth Committee was won by Mr Aderito Fernandes from Angola. He represented the Federation of Organisations of Disabled People in Angola (FAPED).

Mr Lehlohonolo Molisana from Lesotho and Mr Neiso Modise from Botswana were voted as Council Members. They represented the LNFOD and Botswana Federation of Disabled People (BOFOD), respectively.

 

SAFOD Holds 5th General Assembly

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Delegates representing nine countries that participated at the SAFOD’s 5th General Assembly, Johannesburg, South Africa

The Southern Africa Federation of the Disabled (SAFOD) held its 5th General Assembly from 24th to 25th November 2015 in Johannesburg, South Africa, where among other businesses, elections for the new Regional Executive Council (REC) were conducted.

SAFOD had successfully organised the General Assembly, which was being held under the theme “Together we can rebuild and strengthen SAFOD and the disability sector in the region”, after almost eight years since the last General Assembly was held due to institutional challenges that the organisation had gone through.

In his Chairperson’s report, outgoing Chairperson, Mr Adao Joao Pombal, expressed excitement that finally, the membership of SAFOD had met not only to elect new leadership into the REC whose term expired in 2012.

“Even with the term expired we recruited the new Director General and created the Revival Committee,”he said.

Mr Pombal told the delegates that the General Assembly was one of the most critical element, or engine of governance, for any serious membership-based organisation, as it was one of the most important yardsticks in determining whether an organisation was alive or not.

“Without the General Assembly, it is as good as rendering ourselves non-existent, because the power to govern lies in you, the members, and there is no other platform where you can exercise such powers other than the General Assembly,”he said.

In his welcoming remarks, SAFOD Director General, Mr Mussa Chiwaula. said the General Assembly was a significant milestone especially since the organisation began the revival process in 2013.

The new REC will serve SAFOD for at least the next five years when another General Assembly is scheduled will be held, as per the constitution.

The whole rationale behind this theme is to ensure that we continue the process of reviving and rebuilding our most beloved organisation, SAFOD, so that we reclaim the glory and respect that we used to command in the region for years,”he said.

Mrs Rachel Kachaje, Chairperson of the Revival Committee – a special task-force that was instituted to oversee the revival process of SAFOD – expressed her gratitude to the Norwegian Federation of Organisations of Disabled People (FFO) for relentless bankrolling the whole revival process of SAFOD.

Said Mrs Kachaje: “It is my prayer that what happened in SAFOD will be lessons that each one of us has to learn from and that we hold hands together in solidarity. We should always remember that we all have differences but our common denominator is disability. Let us focus our eyes on it.”

SAFOD is a disability-focused network engaged in coordination of activities of organisations of Persons with Disabilities in the Southern Africa region. The organisation was formed in 1986 by persons with disabilities as a federation of Disability Peoples Organisations (DPOs) with a strong presence in 10 countries, namely Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Besides holding elections of the REC, the General Assembly also deliberated on various reports presented by the outgoing Chairperson, Honorary Treasurer/ Secretary, Chairperson of the Revival Committee, and endorsed the SAFOD’s auditor.

 

BOFOD Welcomes SAFOD Secretariat to Botswana

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BOFOD and SAFOD delegates to the courtesy meeting

On 4 February 2015, BOFOD held a courtesy meeting to officially welcome back the SAFOD Secretariat, particularly its new Director General, Mr. Mussa Chiwaula, to Botswana.

During the meeting, BOFOD gave a brief report on its programs and relationships that it had cultivated with other stakeholders. BOFOD Coordinator, Ms. Shirley Keoagile, said BOFOD was made up of 10 Disability Peoples Organisations (DPOs) that are affiliated to the federation as members.

She also explained that the Botswana National Youth Council (BNYC) provides some grants to BOFOD to enable the operation of the secretariat and assist youth with disabilities who are unemployed to start their own businesses or projects to improve their lives.

In his remarks, SAFOD Director General said SAFOD was ready to provide any expert advice that BOFOD would need. He said SAFOD would be happy t support BOFOD in fundraising activities, capacity building, particularly in the development of a strategic plan, among other things.

“Policy and research are activities we are also going to focus on, as we need policy to ensure that Governments strategically implement programs that benefit persons with disabilities. And in terms of research, we need to have data available if we are to effectively design and implement these programs,”  he added.

BOFOD Chairperson, Mr. Omphemetse Ramabokwa, reminded the the delegates that SAFOD had come to support BOFOD, besides other national affiliates in the ten countries where it operates, and he therefore encouraged BOFOD to provide the necessary support to ensure that the federation works cordially together with the umbrella for the benefit of the persons with disabilities in the country.

FODPZ Cherishes Turning Point in its Revival Bid

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FODPZ is one of the few SAFOD affiliates that have experienced declining institutional capacity the past few years.

The first quarter of the year 2015 was a turning point for SAFOD’s national affiliate in Zimbabwe, the Federation of Organisations of Disabled People in Zimbabwe (FODPZ). It is one of the few affiliates that has experienced internal institutional challenges over the past years which resulted in the federation’s declining institutional capacity (and to some extent, credibility) to manage disability programs as there was no strong governance structure in place after the tenure of its Executive Board expired.

However, the good news is that during the first quarter of 2015, the major highlight was the successful convening of an elective General Assembly on 27 to 28 February for the first time in fourteen years, which elected into office a seven member national committee for a three year term consisting of three men and four women. Funding from CBM enabled FODPZ to hold the elective general assembly.

Despite the federation experiencing institutional challenges prior to the General Assembly, FODPZ is in the third and final year of partnership with African Development Alliance (ADA). The partnership, whose objective is to implement a project called Communities of Practice in Disability Advocacy for Mainstreaming (COPDAM), targets influential government technocrats. COPDAM project also seeks influence civic organizations to embrace disability issues in all spheres of their work.

Although it is sad that the FODPZ’s funding for COPDAM project will be ending at the end of the year; the good news is that CBM promised to fund FODPZ to continue the activities of COPDAM. Several meetings were held between CBM officials and FODPZ. CBM is also organizing a meeting of all international development donor agents based in Harare, in order to introduce and link them with FODPZ. The tentative dates for the meeting is middle June this year.

Zimbabwe has no disability policy in place although there is a Disabled Persons Act (DPA) which was passed by Parliament in 1996. FODPZ together with other stakeholders produced a draft disability policy. The document can only become a policy when approved by Government.

It is however understood that Cabinet approved the draft Policy this year. The last stage left is the validation and the signing of the document by the responsible Government minister. The date for a meeting to validate the Disability Policy is not yet set by Government.

FODPAX new partner, CBM, has confirmed it may possibly fund the holding of the stakeholders’ meeting to finalize the validation of the Draft Policy.

NFPDN Elects New Executive Members at National Congress

On 11th to the 12th February 2015, the  National Federation of People with Disabilities in Namibia (NFPDN) organized a National Congress held at Keetmanshoop which elected eight new Board Members of NFPDN.

With financial and technical support from the Ministry of Health and the Office of the Prime Minister, the Congress was an outcome of the unwavering efforts by the disability movement in the country in their effort to revive the NFPDN after years inactivity.

At the time when the federation was still active, SNFPDN had been involved in a number of activities geared at uplifting the rights and welfare of Persons with Disabilities in Namibia through its affiliated Disability Peoples Organisations (DPOs).

From 2003 – 2005, NFPDN had been working actively in the implementation of the Awareness Building Campaign (ABC) in partnership with SAFOD and FFO. During that period, NFPDN led several successful events which brought together stakeholders to discuss disability issues within the Namibian context. The ABC contributed an important ideological contribution to change the understanding and attitudes of people with disabilities – going from charity to independence. ABC also gave local activities on disability issues a nation-wide perspective.

NFPDN had bought many assets. Some of them were still new and in very good condition. However, as of February 2015, (i.e. prior to the Congress), most of its office items, including vehicles and computers were sold without the federation’s knowledge when its offices closed down. NFPDN therefore had to almost start from scratch shortly after the Congress, embarking on journey of rebuilding.

Due to a number of institutional challenges ranging to leadership and management problems, the federation scaled down its activities for several years, and its secretariat shut down.  Before experiencing the downturn, the federation was being funded by the European Union (EU) for four years. Funding from the EU enabled it to establish offices in Opuwo, Oshakati, Rundu and Windhoek. After it ran out of funds all its operations ended.

The “death” of NFPDN proved to be a huge blow to the disability movement and advocacy in the country as there was no longer a credible structure to coordinate the activities of DPOs as well as provide direction and capacity-building of DPOs in advocacy for disability rights, mainstreaming and overall inclusive development.

Besides the elections of Board Members, the National Congress also sought to explore and strategize on how the federation could be strengthened and enhance programs for people with disabilities as part of the revival process after years of institutional decline.  And the new Board was mandated to deliberate on how it would go about reviving the federation.

The National Congress, which was attended by people with disabilities from different regions and DPOs, therefore elected the following  names of individuals who will run the federation in the next four years:

Chairperson:
Daniel Trum (NFVI)

Vice chairperson:
Sylvia Chindunka (Parent)

Secretary:
Gabriel Shikwaya (Albino Trust/Youth)

Treasurer: 
Julian Samuel (NFVI)

Additional members:
Elia Shapwa (NNAD)
Seblon Nakakuwa (NOYD)
Soini Mukwangu
Anguezell Lottering (NOYD)