January 2016 – December 2016 supported by Open Society Initiative for Eastern Africa (OSIEA)
According to the Local Government Act 2010 as amended, PWDs and other marginalized groups in Uganda have to be represented at all levels of local government beginning from the L.C 1 committees, up to the district councils to have a clear platform of discussion of issues affecting them. This was intended to ensure that the specific needs of such groups (e.g. PWDs) are not ignored but incorporated at any level of planning, budgeting and implementation of service provision all aimed at having an all-inclusive social-economic development, reducing the poverty levels in the community and also live up to the disability slogan of “Nothing for Us without Us”. Such concerns include among others as access of PWDs to poverty alleviation programs, education, employment and health.
Although the process seems to be participatory, open and transparent, it’s noted with concern that the involvement of PWDs is very limited and non-existent at certain local government levels. There is general lack of meaningful representation of PWDs on decision making bodies of several committees in the districts, PWDs continue to be represented by non-disabled who take decision on their behalf which have in most cases not in their interest.
Whereas the concept of “equalization of opportunities” states that it’s the duty of the government to ensure the benefits of development programs reach out to the disabled citizens, they continue to be marginalized in development programs due to a number of factors such as; low education levels among PWDs leading to lack of confidence and self-expression, inadequate information access, intentionally being ignored or discriminated by local government technical teams, not being effectively represented on the committees, in-accessible physical environments where developmental workshops are organized and held from, lack of technical knowledge to contribute towards the elite led discussions, lack of skills of effective representation and negotiation, among others.
In areas where PWDs are involved, their technical capacity to contribute meaningfully to the discussions is very limited due to their low levels of education. In the long run, this situation leads to lack of prioritization or limited prioritization of disability mainstreaming in the existing local government programs and justifies the saying that “government policies of inclusion or affirmative action in favor of PWDs have remained more on paper than in action”.
It is therefore important for UNAPD to intervene through this project to enable PWDs benefit from service delivery at local government level for an all-inclusive participatory development. In the proposed project, UNAPD will empowering PWDs with appropriate skills and knowledge, required to effective participate in the planning and budgeting process at various levels of local government. The project among other areas of emphasis will capitalize at ensuring that empowered PWDs plan, budget and advocate for increased budgetary allocation to the education sector at the district level. This increment is targeted to offer better inclusive education services in the targeted districts such as availability of special needs equipment, recruitment or training of teachers in special needs skills, improved accessibility situation in schools, adoption of disability sports in the school sports calendars, among others.