January 2016 – December 2016
The issue of climate change is increasingly important in Uganda and UNAPD recognizes that PWDs are especially vulnerable to the impact of climate change and plans to ensure that this project addresses this vulnerability; the project is supported by Disability Rights Fund (DRF). Currently UNAPD has 5,449 registered female and male individuals scattered around the different regions of the country including Bugisu sub region. Most of these members are settled in rural mountainous areas; either depends on subsistence or commercial agriculture for their survival to improve on their household income in their rural settings. In recent years, Bugisu sub region where UNAPD’s district associations of Mbale, Sironko and Bududa are located, has suffered deadly landslides triggered by heavy rains, leaving scores dead and destroying homes and gardens of people including those of PWDs. Government of Uganda tried to respond by relocating the locals, but due to logistical challenges, vulnerability, fears of losing their ancestry, many of the locals including those with disabilities did not move and are still trapped in the prone cages of the disaster. PWDs have suffered greatly due to effects of the climate change because there is no clear mechanism by government and private actors to raise profile of PWDs in situations of risk and humanitarian emergencies as enshrined in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities (UNCRPD), Article 11 which states that ‘State Parties are required to take , in accordance with their obligations under international law, including international humanitarian law and international human rights law, all necessary measures to ensure the protection and safety of persons with disabilities in situations of risk, including situations of armed conflict, humanitarian emergencies and the occurrence of natural disasters’. The UNCRPD and its Optional Protocol was signed by Uganda on 30th March 2007 and ratified on 25th September 2008 without reservations.
It is important to note that Natural disasters cause accessibility challenges to PWDs in the regions where they occur which affects PWDs full participation in society. For example the landslides that happened in June 2012 in Bunakasala parish Bududa district, left in its wake huge land gaps that cover a surface of about 35-45 meters. Such gaps are a huge challenge to visually impairment people as well as the physically disabled when it comes to mobility. Huge swathes of rocks were swept downwards when the landslides struck and this not only blocked/covered pathways but led to destruction of homes, crops, water sources, vegetables and livestock in the area thus hampering survival of residents including those with disabilities. According to the Uganda Red Cross, this heavy landslide in June 2012 occurred after a two-day downpour, 08 people went missing, 09 were injured, and 72 survived and 15 houses were buried. Despite of this information, there is no clear mention on what happened to residents with disability or how many disabilities occurred or were registered as result of the environment challenge. Although it is claimed that some residents were able to vacate in time partly in response to a distress call from fellow residents at the pinnacle of the hill, many PWDs were not able due to communication challenges for the deaf and deaf-blind as well as mobility problems for the visually impaired and physically challenged people among other disabilities.
It is against this background context based on the human rights that UNAPD desires to intervene in Bugisu sub region to try to address the plight of over 300 PWDs residents in times of disaster so that they can live a good life any other citizen. In particular UNAPD wants to conduct a baseline survey to establish the situation of PWDs in disaster prone areas of Bugisu sub region, hold a one day workshop to disseminate the survey findings and seek stakeholders inputs, print and disseminate copies of the survey report in electronic and print media, Partner with the media to raise awareness on the needs and challenges of PWDs in disaster prone areas and train PWDs in disaster prone areas on human rights and equip them with advocacy skills to demand for their rights during situations of risk and disaster and inclusion in climate change programs in the region.