President Lazarus Chakwera has directed Deputy Minister for Local Government, Halima Daud to ensure that all building accessibility standards are complied with in all the councils and he expects a progress report no later than the last day of this fiscal year.
Chakwera made the directive at Kamuzu Palace in Lilongwe when he inaugurated this year’s Malawi Council for the Handicapped MACOHA’S Flag Week. In the same vain, Minister of Gender, Community Development and Social Welfare; Patricia Kaliati, is directed to conduct an assessment of every public institution’s performance in upholding the rights of persons with disabilities and to report those who are in violation of the same to the president.
“I will know how to deal with the heads of those departments as I made the direction today to mark the start of this year’s MACOHA Flag Week,” said Chakwera.
Meanwhile, Deputy Minister of Labor and skills Development, Vera Kantukule, says her ministry will give 25 per cent of graduate internships to persons with disabilities without a requirement for a degree to empower them.
This year’s MACOHA Flag Week is being observed under the theme ’50 Years of Empowering Persons with Disabilities.’
Organizations of Persons with Disabilities (OPDs) have accused government for failing to put in place deliberate measures that would help children with disabilities in schools and in other public spaces to address the effects of Covid-19 that has hit hard Malawi in particular and the whole world.
Speaking during the Focus Group Discussion that took place in Blantyre, representatives from all FEDOMA’s affiliated organizations, made it clear that persons with disabilities have been sidelined in all avenues that government has been initiating to address the effects of Covid-19.
The focus Group Discussion was conducted by Jenifer Ngwira, Special Needs Director at Catholic University and the aim was to collect data on the effects of Covid-19 towards children with disabilities in Malawi.
The exercise was made possible through the partnership between FEDOMA and the Deaf Zimbabwe Trust which operates in three countries of Zimbabwe, Malawi and Zambia. Deaf Zimbabwe Trust is also in partnership with the Civil Society Education Coalition.
Spinal Cord Injuries Association of Malawi SIAM has asked government to help the organization in addressing challenged persons with spinal cord injuries are facing in their daily livelihood.
SIAM Chairperson, Bylon Kondowe made the call in Lilongwe at the end of a five day training of persons with Spinal Cord Injuries.
Kondowe said the organization was established to address challenges and human rights violation persons with spinal cord injuries were facing.
He said: “The training tackled issues of health, human rights and the law and we noted that persons with spinal cord injuries are experiencing violation of their rights in some instances.”
In her response, Grace Massa, Principle Disability Officer in the Ministry of Gender, Community Development and Social Welfare asked SIAM to work with government to ensure that the rights of its members are observed. Massa said government was ready to partner with stake holders such as SIAM due to the institution’s expertise in classifying types of disability.
Sightsavers Malawi has donated a 4×4 Ford Ranger vehicle to the Parents of Disabled Children Association of Malawi PODCAM to mitigate the transportation challenges the organization was encountering over the years.
Speaking after she received the donation, PODCAM Acting Executive Director Lyness Manduwa expressed gratitude for the timely donation saying the vehicle will ease mobility challenges at the organization.
“As an Acting Executive Director for PODCAM, we are very grateful for the donation and this will help us during our field visits as we usually travel time and again to appreciate challenges our members are experiencing. So for over the years we have been struggling, we seem to be relieved now in terms of transport and we thank Sightsavers,” said Manduwa.
In his turn Sightsavers Country Director to Malawi, Bright Chiwaula said the donation has been arrived at to enhance the strong relationship that has been there between Organizations of Persons with Disabilities in Malawi and the Sigthsavers itself.
“We are very happy as we are here donating this car to PODCAM and the paramount aim of donating this car is to cement the already existing relationship between us and PODICAM and it is our hope that we shall be working together for so long,” he said.
Sightsavers Malawi has been recently in good working relationship with Organizations of Persons with Disabilities OPDs in a number of interventions.
The Lions Eye Clinic of Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital has assured Organizations of persons with Disabilities OPDs that the facility will be soon accessible to persons with disabilities as its management is working day in-day out to address disability issues.
The revelation comes when the Federation of Disability Organizations in Malawi FEDOMA presented a report of its finding after it conducted an access audit at the facility in 2019 and the report shows that the facility is rated 42 % in as far as accessibility of its infrastructure is concerned.
Speaking during the report presentation, Hermes Tebulo who presented the report on behalf of all OPDs which took part in the access audit exercise, said the Lions Eye Clinic has failed to embrace accessibility siting a good example of its toilets which are not disability user friendly among other examples. He however quick to say that all is not bad as it can work on the positives to ensure accessibility is achieved fully.
“During the Access audit, we went further to inspect the toilets of the facility (Lions Eye Clinic) but we can reveal that the toilets there are not accessible and this is a threat to persons with disabilities. However, the facility has its interior doors with enough opening space which commended and we therefore ask them to do their homework on the remaining areas so that the clinic should be accessible,” said Tebulo.