PEOPLE with physical disabilities in Malawi say there is credible evidence to suggest that their interests and needs do not feature in most of the country’s development policies.
Their worry is that they are not included in key development policies like the Millennium Development Goals, MDG, and Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers, PRSP.
This is despite the fact that authorities ratified the United Nations Convention on the rights of Persons with disabilities, CRDP, in 2009,
Expressing their concern through the Malawi Council for the Handicapped, MACOHA, people with disabilities are saying most government agencies and development partners continue to exclude people with disabilities from the PRSP processes.
They say this trend is retarding their development.
MACOHA notes with great concern that government and other development partners, persistently view disability as a separate issue from mainstream development and are not compelled not to include disability issues in their development plans.
Billy Maupa is MACOHA’s Project Supervisor in Dowa district.
He stresses on the need to address poverty and ensure that people with disabilities are involved in and benefit from policy initiatives aimed at poverty reduction.
Maupa says people with disabilities are perpetually marginalised and they remain poor saying without getting disability issues on the PRSP agenda, it will be very difficult to achieve MDGs.
He explains that people with disabilities in Malawi are facing a number of challenges such as infrastructures that are not disability friendly.
Maupa adds that very few members of MACOHA have limited access to the Social Cash Transfer Program, SCTP.
They are also experiencing limited resource rooms and special need teachers in public schools.
He is requesting local councils, NGOs, Government departments and communities to advance deliberate efforts that incorporate persons with disabilities in development activities.
Maupa pleads with the councils to ration a substantial percentage to represent the disadvantaged in the selection of beneficiaries of development projects.
The project supervisor mentions that MACOHA is running program components for disability issues such as Education, Health, Empowerment and Social component in the central region district.
This project involves six Area Development Committees. These committees have a representation of persons with disabilities except for Msakambewa ADC.
Maupa says a member of MACOHA at Traditional Authority Msakambewa’s ADC was removed because of alleged bad habits.
He is hoping that a replacement will be made in due course.