Call to establish national disability committee

HARARE - The rapid increase in disability in Africa is self-inflicted as governments have a prioritisation crisis, an African Union (AU) commissioner has said.

Mustapha Kaloko, the newly sworn AU Commissioner for Social Affairs told delegates at the 22nd session of the Ministerial Governing Board in Harare on Thursday that national disability coordination committees have not been established in most AU states.

“Policies regarding disability and inclusive development have been formulated but not implemented; the continent is reeling from a prioritisation crisis due to lack of funding on the continent,” Kaloko said.
“Governments tend to put on the forefront political options at the expense of social needs; this has led to an increase of poverty indices.”

The AU delegate said due to the non-implementation of formulated mechanisms regarding the welfare of the disabled, the number of disabled people was increasing.

“If governments had mechanisms that cater for the disabled and effective policies on control of disability-triggering activities, the number of disabled people in Africa would not have been skyrocketing with the current momentum,” said Kaloko.

According to the world report on disability, lower income countries have a higher prevalence of disability than higher income countries.

An estimated 80 percent of persons with disabilities live in developing countries with most in acute poverty.

There are over 600 million persons with disabilities throughout the world, of which 180 million are children; 400 million live in developing countries and 80 million in Africa.

“If this trend continues, the number of people with disabilities will increase considerably during the next few years, especially in the African continent, and all this is due to poor policy implementation,” the AU social affairs guru said.

Kaloko said the general attitude in African countries that policies regarding the disabled are implemented toward elections shows the extent to which governments on the continent fail to organise their priorities.

“The continent has too many problems and priority is given to issues that affect national security and in some cases address on tribal appeasement schemes, at the expense of social welfare development.

“What member states fail to realise is that their social welfare policies contribute to their poverty indices, and if addressed properly, can gain them political mileage,” said Kalongo.

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