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EAC Conference on Persons with Disabilities Draws to a Close

PRESS RELEASE

Conference designs robust resolutions to guide PwDs’ engagement with EAC Partner States, Private Sector, EAC Organs and Institutions, and National Parliaments

East African Community Secretariat, Arusha, Tanzania, 20 February 2010:  A historic East African Community Conference on Persons with Disability ended today at the Kampala Serena Hotel, Uganda with a call to all Partner States to conduct research and provide health services for the prevention, control, early detection, management and support to various human disabilities.

While closing the Conference, Hon. Dr. Emmanuel Otaala, Uganda’s State Minister for Labour, Employment and Industrial Relations representing the First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of EAC Affairs of Uganda, Rt. Hon. Eriya Kategaya, called for a common approach in the region that offers holistic programmes taking into consideration the specific needs and aspirations of PwDs.

Hon. Otaala reiterated that the region recognises that PwDs are a valuable human resource in its development and despite this, both at the national and regional socio, economic and physical environments are not providing enough opportunities, facilities, legal and policy frameworks that allow PwDs to actively get involved in the integration process.

Hon. Otaala called for the enhancement of the roles of the Forum for EAC Ministers responsible for Social Development to create effectiveness and efficiency in implementation of the recommendations of the Conference, including monitoring and evaluation. The Hon. Minister urged the Partner States to commit and mobilise the necessary resources both human and financial to ensure the agenda was successfully carried forward. 

The Conference was attended by among others, Tanzania’s Minister for Health and Social Welfare, Hon. Prof. David Homeli Mwakyusa; Kenya’s Minister for Gender, Children Affairs and Social Development, Hon. Esther Murugi Mathege; Burundi’s Minister of National Solidarity, Refugees Resettlement and Social Reintegration, Hon. Immaculate Nakayo; Uganda’s State Minister of Gender, Community Development and Persons with Disabilities, Hon. Sulaiman Madada; the Secretary General of the EAC, Amb. Juma Mwapachu and his Deputy in charge of Productive and Social Sectors, Mr. Jean Claude Nsengiyumva; Members of the East African Legislative Assembly led by Hon. Dr. James Ndahiro (Rwanda); Mr. Reginald Mengi, Executive Chairman of IPP Limited representing the Private Sector; Permanent Secretaries; officials from the Ministries of EAC from the Partner States; and representatives of People with Disabilities throughout the region.

The Kampala PwDs Conference provided a unique opportunity for the EAC to bring together people with disabilities, institutions dealing with people with disabilities, professionals and experts, political leaders, policy makers and members of civil society to discuss, debate and recommend how Partner States governments and the EAC itself can best address the challenges confronting peoples with disabilities. 

The historic Conference stimulated new thinking and came up with firm resolutions on how best the EAC Partner States, and as a region, could make the difference for peoples with disability.   

The Conference knocked into shape resolutions that touch on EAC Partner States, private sector, EAC Organs and Institutions, and National Parliaments as follows:

EAC Member States
1. Each EAC Partner State to have credible statistics on people with disabilities
2. Each Partner State to have disability focal points in key ministries
3. Establish statutory national disability council / commission to coordinate all issues related to disability in their respective countries.  These councils/commissions should be adequately financed to enable them fully discharge their responsibilities
4. To facilitate the availability of assistive technologies and other ICT products
5.  Within their budgets adopt a budgetary approach that would ensure that the concerns of PWDs are main streamlined
6.  Advocate for the mainstreaming of disability in all Ministries requiring them to have a measurement indicator on their performance on disability
7. Encourage all Ministries’ in the Partner States to provide regular Certificates of Compliance on disabilities in all their programmes
8. Trade policies must be disability sensitive and affirmative action should be availed for PWDs e.g. in the area the tax waivers for those who employ PWDs
9. Advocate for increased budgetary allocations for PWDs. Development partners should integrate PWDs mainstreaming as a priority in national development agenda to facilitate effective implementation of PwD programmes
10. Develop Accessibility Standards for all aspects of Accessibility for PWDs to be implemented by all the Partner States
11. Institutions should be established in all the Partner States to train sign language and mobility trainers to improve on accessibility to physical and social infrastructures
12. Urge EAC Partner States to provide health services for the prevention, control, early detection, management and support of various human diseases which cause disabilities
13. Improving technical and vocational training programmes for PwDs so as to bolster the employability of PwDs
14. Each Partner State to encourage the Media to promote visibility of PwDs and promote their dignity and needs
15. Ensure Census Enumerators are properly trained and are sensitive to families with PwDs

Private Sector
1.     Intensify public and private partnerships in integration and mainstreaming of PwDs in the private and public sector
2.     Provide affirmative action for the employment of PWDs both in government and private sector through a quota system

EAC (Organs and Institutions)
1. EAC to have effective structures at the EAC Secretariat that would initiate and follow-up implementation of all issues related to disability concerns within member states
2. Urge the EAC Council of Ministers to put in place a process of coming up with an EAC Disability Law
3. Establish a Regional Disability Development Fund
4. Urge EAC Partner States to ratify the UN Disability Convention as a regional bloc
5. EAC Legal and Judicial Sectoral Council to put in place a model legal framework to protect and promote rights of persons with disabilities in member states
6. The Council to urge member states to include concerns of PWDs in their legal and judicial reform processes and programmes
7. EALA to do more outreach and an intensive review of all national laws in respect of PWDs, identify areas of convergence and divergence; best practices and move Assembly resolutions in addressing these, including getting the EAC Council of Ministers to have a Bill in the Assembly on promoting and protecting the issues of PwDs
8. EAC Secretariat in coordination with EALA and the EAC Partner States to promote specific regional and national HIV and AIDS initiatives targeting PwDs
9. PwDs to be mainstreamed in the EAC 4th Development Strategy (2011-2016)
10. To organize more such Conferences

National Parliaments
1. Identify weakness in the existing laws addressing issues and concerns of PWDs and recommend amendments where appropriate
2. Domestication of the Convention and other international instruments
3. Organise a conference for Development Partners and the Private Sector to discuss strategies for the promotion of disability issues in development, as well as mobilization of resources to fund programmes of PwDs.
4. Develop interventions that focus on the mitigating the effects of PWDs on their families e.g. children who are denied education because they are care givers for PWD parents
5. Develop more comprehensive programmes on early identification and intervention in new born babies to help their families adapt to and support them
6. Mainstream disability issues in the HIV/AIDS interventions
7. Advocate for the inclusion of PWDs in policies and programmes on Conflict Management addressing war ravaged areas in EA
8. Encourage the Partner states to provide for health care and cost sharing specifically targeting PWDs
9. Advocate for the inclusion of the youth with disabilities in the programmes for PWDs

For further information please contact:
Richard Owora Othieno
Ag. Head of Department
Corporate Communications and Public Affairs
Phone: +256 718 358664 / +255 784 835021
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