Persons with disability constitute 12.4% of the population of Uganda according to 2014 Housing and Population Census. In spite of these statistics, and in light of the unequal access to services particularly in education, health care, transportation, among others, in Uganda, poverty and disability in Uganda have remained impossible to disentangle.
An illustration of this inequitable access to services is amplified by disability specific barriers such as inaccessible infrastructure including buildings in these service delivery centres, which is in total contravention of the Building Control Act 2013. Additionally, the unavailability of assistive devices such as wheelchairs, hearing aids and other auxiliary support that enable Persons with Disabilities live dignified and sustainable lives continues to impede their access to social service delivery.
“To make matters worse, Persons with Disabilities continue to be stigmatized. In the news recently, a student at a higher institution of learning was initially rejected because the institution was unable to train a person with a hearing impairment. This is a blatant abuse and violation of individual right to education. Financing for equitable service delivery continues to be constrained by limited financing for social sectors whose financing continues to decline in comparison to sectors such as security and infrastructure,” remarked Edson Ngirabakunzi the Executive Director NUDIPU.
According to the National Budget Framework Paper for the Financial 2018/19- education and health sectors’ proportion of the budget will reduce by 4% and 0.9% respectively in respect to FY 2017/18. This financing is too meagre to support effective and quality education standards reaching all children with disabilities of school going age across the country. “This has grossly affected enrollment of Persons with Disability reducing from 222,390 in 2009 at the three levels of pre-primary, primary and secondary level to 155,846 as at 2015 as opposed to increasing overall enrollment from 9,649,236 to 10,025,448 in the same years,” Ngirabakunzi stressed.
There have been lauded efforts by the Special Needs Education Department in the Ministry of Education which has distributed assistive devices including braille cartons, braille paper and hearing aids to learners. Nonetheless, this support has only been limited to 100 primary schools reaching only 5000 learners in FY 2016/17. This is way below the current learners with Special Needs that cut across pre –primary to tertiary levels.
Likewise in the health sector, funding for disability has reduced from UGX 144m from 4 years ago to UGX 68m currently. These funds aim at supporting a multitude of activities including provision of wheelchairs and white canes, running of orthopedic workshops across the country, among others.
The recall of the Persons with Disability Bill 2014 from Parliament poses opportunities and challenges at the same time. The withdrawal if not fast tracked may drag the whole process and may leave a lacuna in the protection of the rights of persons with disability. The law needs to be fast tracked to avoid further alienation and failure to prioritize and budget for needs of Persons with Disabilities. Given the dismal financing to disability related needs and other Special Needs, there is clearly a great need for the community to step in and support the plight of Persons with disabilities in Uganda: Government efforts notwithstanding.
NUDIPU has therefore created a campaign aimed at raising UGX 500million to procure an assortment of assistive devices that will benefit more than 1000 vulnerable individuals with disabilities across the country. This will focus mostly on children of school going age, among other vulnerable Persons with Disability.
“We therefore call for support from well-wishers to support this campaign through attending a fundraising dinner on the 21st March 2018 at the Kampala Serena Hotel. Tables are being sold at a range from 200,000 to 5million shillings and can be bought from the Kampala Serena Hotel or NUDIPU offices. The public can also make contributions via mobile money on 0700540179 or deliver these devices at NUDIPU offices on Bukoto-Kisasi Road,” Ngirabakunzi urged.
Thus far, various organizations and media houses including Pride Micro Finance, RENA Country Development Association, Federation of Ugandan Employers, Light for the World, NBS Television, Capital FM, Jazz FM, Delta TV, Record TV, the Red Pepper among others have joined the cause. For more information, call Esther on 0772647648 or Edson on 0704420041. We urge the general public and other organizations to contribute towards this just and noble cause.