Written by Fru Rita Ngum & edited by BONKUNG Handerson
Councilors of Jakiri Council have taken the commitment to mainstream disability in the revision of the development plan of the Council due to take place this year. The councilors took the commitment at the end of a one day workshop organized by the Council in collaboration with the Socio Economic Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (SEEPD) program recently at the Jakiri Council Hall.
According to the Mayor of Jakiri Council, Mr, Fonyuy Elais who doubles as the Council Disability Focal Person, the objective of the workshop was to assist the Council in the revision of its development plan. The said development plan had expired and there was need for revision so that no one in the community including persons with disability is left out of the development process.
The Divisional President of Associations for Persons with Disability (APWDs) in KIMAR village in Jakiri Sub Division and a person with mobility impairment, noted that persons with disabilities face challenges. Some of these challenges include; lack of education, employment, and discrimination amongst others. Mr. Kunti Humphrey advocated that persons with disabilities should be given the right to become parliamentarians, senators, mayors and to occupy other top positions in the society. According to him, being in such positions, they will better defend the rights of persons with disabilities given that it is he who wears the shoes that knows where it pinches.
The workshop was facilitated by the SEEPD Program Manager, Mr. Awa Jacques Chirac and the Community Based Rehabilitation Supervisor (CBR), Mr. Kenchi Joseph. The workshop provided them an opportunity to share the challenges faced by persons with disabilities and develop strategies to intentionally include them in the development plan.
In the discussions that ensued, participants highlighted some of the positive steps that the Council has been taking to promote inclusive development. Some of these actions are outreach screening programs to prevent disability, recruitment of council volunteers to identify, refer and rehabilitate persons with disabilities in the community, appointment of Council disability focal persons to champion issues of disability in the Council, and financial assistance to some persons with disability amongst others.
Given that these actions are not factored in the Council development plan, there was no guarantee for these to continue if administration changes hands. For this reason, the technical knowledge of the SEEPD program was instrumental in the education of participants on how they can holistically include persons with disabilities in the areas of health, education, livelihood and other social components in the revision plan. Although the Council is doing something on inclusion, there is need to improve and document the actions so that it will be a reference document for every administrator that comes in to implement.
Mr, Sani Hansanica, a consultant hired by the Council to update the Council development plan from 2018 to 2022, noted with excitement that the workshop was timely. He added that knowledge acquired will help him to know the percentage of persons with disabilities in the Jakiri municipality. He noted that the challenges of PWDs will equally inform him on how to incorporate them in any direction he is taking in the Council.
They were close to 60 participants at the workshop were made up of Council staff, councilors, some parents of children with disabilities, persons with disabilities and leaders of Associations of Persons with Disabilities in Jakiri municipality. Participants acquired knowledge on the twin track approach, which will enable them build the capacity of persons with disability as well as advocate for development stakeholders to include them in all walks of life. They also went home with enhanced knowledge on inclusive development which will help them mainstream disability developmental actions.
With this knowledge, the participants said they were empowered to provide contributions during their Council sessions. They noted that their contributions will enhance the inclusion of persons with disability in the development plan, given their important role in the revision of the document.
The workshop was an outcome of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between the SEEPD Program and the Jakiri Council in 2015 with the objective to mainstream development in its developmental actions. By going to build the capacity of Council staff and provide technical assistance, the SEEPD Program is implementing article 4.1.1 of the MoU. On the other hand, by organizing the workshop, Jakiri Council is acting in line with article 4.2.7 of the MoU which states that the Council will mainstream disability in the Council policy document.