Friday, May 24, 2024
HomeNewsKaduna State: Plight Of Persons With Disabilities, Beyond Charity To Human Rights

Kaduna State: Plight Of Persons With Disabilities, Beyond Charity To Human Rights

By Yusuf Ishaku Goje

Just reflect for a minute. Assuming out of the 8.04 million multidimensionally poor (MPI survey, 2022) in Kaduna State, a sizable number, conservatively lets say 15%, are vulnerable Persons with Disabilities (PwDs). This means about 1.2 million PWDs suffer multiple times as much from multidimensional poverty compared to those considered abled but poor. Or put in another light, currently about 1.2 million PwDs, aside from the vulnerability and exclusion they face, are equally deprived of access to quality education, healthcare, housing etc.

Despite the above deprivations, leaving many of them in abject poverty, issues of PwDs are still treated as an after-thought, charity, tokenistic inclusion to score cheap political points and while using a one-shoe-size-fits-all approach. As the saying goes, “put your money where your mouth is.” This is therefore an urgent call on the Kaduna State government to do more in mainstreaming inclusion of PWDs. The passage of the Kaduna State Disability Law, 2021, is a commendable step, however, its implementation leaves a lot to be desired.

A few highlight of the law are: establishment of the Disability Trust Fund (S,7), collection of data (S,11), public function (S,13), public transportation services (S,14), discrimination against PwDs (S,16), right to health (S,20), administration of schools (S,22), right to work and employment (S,23), government to give opportunity to PwDs to utilize their potential (S,27) etc. While the law will need future review and amendment to capture emerging realities, currently, weak political will, weak institutional coordination and poor financing remains the major blockages to its effective implementation.

A system thinking and whole-of-government approach is needed to uproot the blockages hindering effective inclusion and mainstreaming of PWDs in all spheres of our society. We need to excavate and replace those entrenched values that promote political and economic institutional barriers and behaviorial patterns that drive exclusion and tokenism towards PWDs. All hands must be on deck to bring an end to ‘isomorphic mimicry’ – a situation where the government seems to be strengthening systems but in actual reality it is motion without movement in addressing challenges faced by PwDs.

This is not to suggest that the government is doing nothing to support the PwDs but it urgently needs to shift away from a tokenistic to system-wide approach towards addressing issues of PwDs. Some of the most intelligent, intellectually sound, hard-working, innovative and creative individuals in our State today are PwDs. Therefore, meaningful human capital and social inclusion investments targeted at PwDs will surely yield dividends to the State in the form of accelerated, prosperous, inclusive and sustainable development.

Back to reality, the disability law has been enacted and publicly celebrated but the key sections needed to effectively activate it are being implemented haphazardly, funded poorly or not at all. Evidently, while in the annual budgets there are some PWDs’ specific line items especially under the State Disability Affairs Board, but when it comes to adequate allocations, actual cash-backed releases and implementation the government is found wanting.

This is also the situation when one goes to other critical sub-sectors such as health, education, agriculture etc. Allocations to specific and peculiar issues of PwDs are either not captured or when captured are having low allocation as well as delayed and poor releases. For instance, it is disturbing that the Equity Funds Basic Health Care Provision Funds (BHCPF) Counterpart Funds under Kaduna State Contributory Health Management Authority (KADCHMA), which is expected vulnerable groups such as the PwDs, as at the beginning of 2024 had not been released and cash-backed for over a year.

Increasingly, it is obvious that most critical interventions benefiting the PwDs are largely coming from the development partners. While in most cases public sector social protection intervention seems, I stand to be corrected, to only include the PwDs to tick the social inclusion box. Even when one compares the number of PwDs beneficiaries versus their total number as well as the total number of beneficiaries, it is negligible. More so, a look at appointments into strategic positions also leaves much to be desired. Despite some notable progress, the same can be said for inclusive education, health, infrastructure, among others.

It is imperative that the government convenes a public policy dialogue on addressing the barriers hindering the meaningful inclusion and mainstreaming of PWDs issues in all sectors in the State. The status of implementation of both the disability law and gender and social inclusion policies needs to be reviewed using a whole-of-system and society lens. Urgently required is the enforcement of the disability law to set examples while at the same time investing more in behavioral change communication. As well as ensuring result-based monitoring and evaluation of the policy implementation is given priority.

The Governor should also lead by example in insisting that all nominations for public appointments and employment should include PwDs, except where no qualified person is identified. At least, progressively, 20% of all his appointments in the administration should go to qualified PwDs – who understand the peculiar but diverse challenges of the disability community. Likewise, there should be a benchmark for budget allocation and actual cash-backed releases related to PwDs’ issues across all sectors. For the civil society and development partners, to ensure the actualization of the demand for system-wide reform, a strong social accountability mechanism needs to be fully activated and supported.

Finally, we must come to terms that all of us who consider ourselves as able are living at risk of becoming part of the disability community, so, before we become victims of the current charity-driven system, let’s join hands to mainstream issues of PwDs as right-based.

Goje is an active citizen, civil society advocate and OGP enthusiast.




Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

- Advertisment -
Google search engine

Most Popular

Recent Comments

sildenafil generic australia on Abandoned IDP Camp Discovered In Kaduna
Yakkon Damaryam on The War against Glaucoma
Shehu Danbaki on IMG-20181125-WA0070
Seth Yamusa on Hon Danjuma Peter Averik
Ibraheem Awowole on MEET OUR PATHFINDER FOR OSUN 2018
Amb. Hoom'Suk. on Sarauniya Beauty Pageant 2017