Marie Claire Uwamariya Vice-Mayor of Musanze in Charge of Social Affairs presenting her remarks: to her Â right, Jean Marie Vianney Mbarushimana ,
VSO Project Manager, to her left Augustin from LODA, and Dominique Bizimana, NUDOR President
By Donata Kiiza
There are still a number of people living with disabilities (PWDs) that are not benefiting from the vision 2020 Umurenge programme (VUP). This was noted during a one-day workshop on Wednesday last week in Kigali where findings from a qualitative study on inclusion of people with disabilities in the vision 2020 Umurenge programme was discussed.
The assessment was conducted this year between June and August by the National Union of Disability Organizations of Rwanda (NUDOR), the National Council of Persons with Disabilities (NCPD) supported by Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO) in the districts of Musanze in Northern Province and Nyanza in Southern province. This was planned by Inclusive Rwanda for People with Disabilities (IRPWD) project under Ikiraro programme funded by DFID, SIDA, USAID and Suiss.
The study involved 371 participants including community members among them PWDs, local leaders at all levels (district to village officials) and experts from DFID, World Bank a LODA and some international organizations, members of Social Protection Sector working group (SPSWG).
It was discovered with evidence that there are many people with disabilities who are not benefitting from all components of the VUP (Direct support, public works and financial services). For instance, in some severe cases of disability, one might not get adequate assistance from the general assistance given to the household because people with disabilities normally incur additional costs of living hence missing out on opportunities for economic development. VUP promote equality but the equity is not observed as highlighted by a number of respondents.
Sarah Challoner, VSO Technical Advisor making a presentation
According to Jean Baptiste Ndikubwimana, a representative of PWDs in Musanze, many people with disabilities in his sector are not beneficiaries of VUP.
He mentioned that this has become a hindrance for many to overcome poverty since they are unable to work as other able-bodied people. Citing the expensive equipment needed to support PWDs depending on their different disabilities, Ndikubwimana said that it is crucial for PWDs to benefit from government programme like VUP.
He also clarified that due to disabilities such as being deaf, and some severe disabilities in mobility, some people with disabilities miss out on the information about some government policies that are meant to assist them. Decisions are taken without their participation and awareness.
The project manager at VSO, Jean Marie Vianney Mbarushimana said that there is need for policy makers to revise some guidelines of VUP under social Protection Policy for people with disabilities to be included and receive benefits accordingly.
Pointing to the issue that comes with implementation of the policy at local level, Mbarushimana said that most PWDs are left out. He called for continuous sensitization on implementation and more powers in enforcement of reviewed guidelines in the policy. More training sessions for disability mainstreaming should be organized.
“It is unfortunate that many people out here do not know the problems people with disabilities are facing. Although there are government policies and programmes such as VUP meant to benefit all Rwandans at large, not all people with disabilities are actually getting this assistance, while it is their rights. This is why we had to carry out this qualitative study to point out the constraints they are facing so that they can be addressed, by decision-makers through policy review’’ said Mbarushimana.
Dominique Bizimana, the president of NUDOR said that although there are still gaps in the implementation of VUP among PWDs, there is an indication that some people with disabilities have highly benefited from VUP.
He said that today, people with disabilities are benefiting from direct support which was not the case previously. He attributed this to their continuous sensitization about the matter hence including people with disabilities in different categories of VUP including public works and financial services.
Dunia Anataria, a representative of the blind in Musanze said that she has earned a decent living from VUP assistance after being abandoned by her family when she became blind in 2003.
Anataria who has benefitted from direct support under VUP since 2013 has been able to establish her own enterprise, build a house of her own, and build two more which she rents out.
Following the presentation of findings, some comments were provided and the report findings was validated with all its recommendations. Commitment was made for policy review for better and clearer inclusive guidelines. The workshop attracted 75 participants including representatives of DFID, LODA and districts of Musanze and Nyanze, NUDOR representatives including its steering committees and platforms, NCPD staff as well as NCPD local elected committees, and Ikiraro programme staff members were represented. Some members of Social Protection Sector Working groups attended and highly appreciated the qualitative study findings.
VSO has been working in Rwanda since 1998 and has supported the disability movement for more than 10 years. It has proven expertise in working with national institutions and civil society organizations to influence policies for promoting social inclusion.