June 11th, 2021 PRESS RELEASE
LEFT BEHIND & LEFT OUT- THE VOICE OF PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES
It is now more than a week since the Minister of Finance presented the 2021/22 National Budget and hearing reactions from the general public what one hears is optimism. However, as the disability movement in the country, the observation is to the contrary. What has been noted is that the budget just as the previous years, leaves a lot to be desired. However, what is moving persons with disabilities this time there is a stronger realization within the movement that ‘we are Malawians just like all other citizens’. This statement is being made following the many sentiments coming from Malawians with disabilities, disability rights activists, professionals in the sector as well as parents of children with disabilities.
the disability movement in then country has learnt with great shock and disappointment that the budgetary allocation for disability affairs has been significantly reduced from the previous years’ allocation, considering the current economic dynamics, magnitude of challenges faced by persons with disabilities, visa-vis, the negligence rendered to the plight of persons with disabilities over the years as well as government commitment to various local and international human rights and development instruments.
It has been noted that the allocation to the ministry of gender, community development and social welfare includes an allocation specifically for the albinism related programs amounting to MK300m which cannot be contested much. However, there is an allocation for the Disability Trust Fund amounting to MK75m down from MK100million from the 2020/21 national budget, which was also a reduction from MK200million in 2019/20 national budget. The two hundred million was also considered low if the Disability Trust Fund was to be made effective more especially at a time of its establishment. Now that the allocation is MK75m, persons with disabilities really feel left behind.
The allocation of MK123m to the department of disability renders the entity almost non-functional more especially as it is supposed to serve almost 10.4% of the population.
Further more, the allocation of about MK783m in the current budget, from MK1,044b for 2020/21 budget to MACOHA is clear that the institution will not render services to its targeted population as the amount will predominantly cover administrative costs.
It has also been noted that the allocation to the department of Special Needs Education in the ministry of Education amounting to MK33m which does not include teaching & learning materials, this is a great disaster in the efforts to ensure access to equitable and quality education by children with disabilities. We therefore, strongly feel this will frustrate initiatives to mobilize parents of children with disabilities to bring the children to school, since the unwelcome status of our schools for children with disabilities will surely remain unattended to. It is frustrating further to learn that in the current budget (2020/21) the allocation is MK494m, meaning the MK33m is a drastic reduction of the budgetary allocation to the department.
Similarly, the allocation to Malawi Against Physical disabilities pegged at MK300M, a reduction from the current financial year of MK600 million limits the functionality of the institution. This means persons with physical disabilities will not easily access assistive devices and other rehabilitation services. It also poses a danger of increasing number of persons with physical disabilities due to inadequate rehabilitation services.
The 2021/22 budget therefore does not meet government’s obligation in promoting, protecting and fulfilling rights of persons with disabilities in the country. Much as the government is the custodian of the National Disability Mainstreaming Strategy of 2018, which is well budgeted, this budget does not support it. The sprit in which UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities has been extinguished in this budget. The commitment made in the Malawi Growth and Development Strategy III adopting disability as an integral part of the instrument is seriously impaired by the budget and the motto of the agenda of 2030 for Sustainable Deployment of ‘Leaving no one behind’ is not just left behind but left out.
The picture seen in the above-mentioned allocations does not inspire confidence in the government’s commitment to ensure that persons with disabilities enjoy their rights through this national budget. The situation of persons with disabilities is worsening day to day due to lack of disability specific and all-inclusive services. The fact that there is an apparent reduction of financial allocation for disability related programs, is a cause for worry among persons with disabilities.
FEDOMA and the entire disability movement would therefore like to appeal the Malawi Parliament to pay special attention allocations made to disability related programs and ensure they are revised upwards. It is also our hope that the Minister of Finance will prioritize disability as revisions are suggested in or outside Parliament.
It is only this gesture that will help in making Malawians with disabilities to start feeling they are also Malawians. Otherwise, the current status makes persons with disabilities feel left behind and left out.
Below are signatures from Heads of Organizations of Persons with Disabilities OPDs