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Disability Inclusion Is A Human Right

A study of the livelihoods of people living with disabilities in urban communities found that families have reduced their food consumption to one meal a day to overcome financial challenges related to securing food. Limited finances were also found to prohibit the purchase of medications.

Through its urban social assistance programming ending in September 2023, DanChurchAid, with funding support from the European Union, partnered government to assist in the creation of an inclusive society that recognises the rights of people with disabilities, where all citizens live in dignity.

The project follows the launch of the national disability policy in June 2021 by His Excellency, President Mnangagwa, where he called for an end to harmful practices, discrimination, marginalisation, and exclusion of people with disabilities from participating in different sectors of the economy, adding that government departments should mainstream disability issues in their programmes.

In an interview at their home, Gadzirai and Beauty Chabikwa, spoke of the hardships they encountered to support their seven (7) children, illustrating how negative economic consequences of disability affect not just individuals, but their families.

“As you can see I am blind and there are very few opportunities for people like myself, but since early 2023 DanChurchAid has been assisting people with disabilities through the DCA multipurpose programme which has made things much better. We were able to buy food, medication, and keep the children in school.”

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Innocent Chikwana who is confined to a wheelchair, also confirmed that providing for his family of eight (8) was extremely difficult given his condition. However, with assistance from the social assistance project, both families have been able to start poultry projects to supplement their household income and maintain their dignity.

Researchers maintain that the relationship between disability and poverty became more apparent after the acceptance of the Millennium Development Goals in 2001, where it was established that disability is a cause and a consequence of poverty. Some of the factors identified as exacerbating poverty were low levels of nutrition, limited access to preventive health care, low access to sanitation and clean water, which increase the risk for such populations becoming chronically ill.

“DCA has over 100 years history of assisting the most marginalised in society. We identified that people with disability face extra costs and barriers in their access to health care services, reproductive health education, rehabilitation, and technical aids. In addition, where they are socially excluded from education and employment, they assume direct, indirect and opportunity costs, which negatively affect their income and consumption, indicating clearly that more needs to be done to assist this demographic. As DCA, that is why we were intentional to include people with disability in our targeting, when we initiated this programme,” said DanChurchAid Country Director Mads Lindegård.

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The 2021 adoption of the national disability policy initiated a shift from a needs-based approach to a human rights approach for mechanisms to include people with disabilities in the development agenda, with an obligation on government to guarantee human rights, to reduce discrimination and to improve the life conditions of people with disabilities.

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