Thursday, June 23, 2011

In Nigeria, disability organization says disabled people should be asked when developing disability programs

From NEXT in Nigeria:

The failure of most skills acquisition and empowerment schemes for physically challenged people in Nigeria could be blamed on the exclusive nature and non-inclusion of the targeted beneficiaries during the process of creating such programmes, Ekaette Umoh, a philanthropist, has said in Uyo.

Ms Umoh, executive director of the Family Centered Initiative for Challenged Persons (FACICP), a non-governmental organisation championing the cause of disabled women in Akwa Ibom State, said the non-inclusion of the physically challenged in the preparation of the schemes is responsible for the lack of patronage by those whom the schemes are meant for.

Speaking yesterday in Uyo during a Capacity Building Workshop on Economic Empowerment for Women with Disabilities, she said the government has been occupied with initiating and executing programmes for the physically challenged that have no bearing on the needs of the people concerned.

"Empowerment programmes for the physically challenged have failed around here because people were not consulted before they set up the scheme, and women with disability would not benefit from that programme because it was not designed using disability learning," She said.

"What I am saying is that they just go ahead and set up an empowerment programme without consulting with the beneficiaries. You think for them and just assume they should be doing some sewing, you just think of a project and set up an empowerment centre for them and think people would go into it. Per-adventure, the people whom you think would benefit from it don't even buy into your idea. They don't like what you are doing. There is a huge gap, that project is bound to fail because you did not consult with the people.

"For instance, you have a skill acquisition centre that is three floors up. How do you expect a wheelchair user without lift to access such an empowerment centre? Suppose you have a training scheme for women with disability, how do you expect a deaf woman to benefit from such a programme when you have not provided for a sign language interpreter? Most of these things are done not taking into special consideration the basic needs of these people with disabilities. So they are not able to assess such programmes and it is bound to be exclusive and discriminatory and it will fail because it is not community driven."

Explaining that the workshop will set the motion in place for physically challenged women in the state to come up with a skill acquisition scheme that would enable them take their destinies in their hands and liberate them from seeing themselves as the scum of the society because of their disability, Ms Umoh, a consultant on disability matters and the national women leader of joint association of persons with disability, said the scheme would empower disabled women on economic issues.

She said the exclusion of disabled women from developmental and economic programmes gave birth to the workshop.

"Take a look around our community, you will see so many women empowerment programmes going on but women with disabilities hardly benefit from such programmes because they are planned, executed and implemented in such a way that they are not disability friendly," she said.

"There is attitudinal barrier- discrimination, environmental and institutional barriers. They just think people with disabilities are objects of charity and cannot do anything for themselves, so people just give them all the time. Empowering them to do things for themselves is the challenge that the main stream society don't even think of because people do not see them as being able to take their destinies and future in their hands and we just thought there is a huge gap in the development and empowerment programmes around the community. That is why we came up with this programme".

Ms Umoh lamented that the bill advocating the advancement of persons with disability was not accented to by President Goodluck Jonathan after being passed by the last legislative assembly, adding that Nigeria must begin to look into the betterment of the disabled in the country as it is a United Nations signatory to the rights of persons with disability.