Chronicle - 16
GOVERNMENTS and development agencies have failed to
implement good policies aimed at mainstreaming disability in the
development process, leaving the majority of disabled people
marginalised in society, research carried out in several countries has
Presenting the findings of the Knowledge and Research
(KaR) programme on disability at an international disability conference
here yesterday, the leader of the research team, Mr Mark Harrison, said
the study established that most of the countries that were surveyed had
good policies on disability issues but failed to implement them.
"Governments and development agencies need to tackle
the problem of policy implementation, which has meant that good
policies on mainstreaming disability in development remain trapped on
paper," Mr Harrison said.
"The research findings show that there is need to turn
the policies into action."
Mr Harrison said his team had also established that
most funds raised in the name of disabled people did not reach the
intended beneficiaries. The research programme carried out by the
University of East Anglia in the United Kingdom and funded by the
Overseas Development Group covered several countries in Africa and Asia.
The project described by the researchers as the "most
ambitious, wide ranging and innovative project on disability and
development ever carried out" was led and managed by disabled people
from developed and developing countries.
Speaking at the same conference, the Southern Africa
Federation of the Disabled chairperson, Mrs Rachel Kachaje, said the
findings of the research programme were a reflection of the challenges
facing disabled people in the region.
"For many years our Southern Africa Development
Committee member states have been discussing plans and policies without
success as no one has the political will to turn them into action," Mrs
"Therefore there is need for us to move from this era
of promises to action and more action. This can only be done if we get
the appropriate information to turn our dreams into action."
Officially opening the threeday conference, the Malawi
Deputy Minister of Education, Science and Technology, Mr Davie
Ngulinga, said lack of information on the needs of disabled people was
hampering their empowerment.
"In most countries especially the least developed,
data is usually in short supply because of the lack of resources for
the collection of information and its analysis," Mr Ngulinga said.
Mr Denis Caine, a representative of the UK Department
of International Development (DFID), who commissioned the KaR programme
said the world would never achieve the United Nations sponsored
Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) until countries implement socially
Representatives of the disability movement in Southern
Africa, research institutions, journalists, political leaders, African
Union specialised agencies, disability campaigners and Non Governmental
Organisations are attending the conference.
The conference organised by SAFOD and the Federation
of Disability Organisations in Malawi is meant to promote and
disseminate the findings of the KaR programme carried between 2003 and
last year to contribute to the empowerment of people with disabilities
in Southern Africa.