Lessons From Botswana Disability Administration

| May 6, 2014 | 0 Comments

THIS week we are looking at disability administration in the Republic of Botswana which is hosted in the office of the President for effective coordination and monitoring.

The Government of Botswana treats disability as a crosscutting issue this means that disability matters are, therefore, put in each line ministries and every Government department through mainstreaming disability issues as an integral part of relevant strategies for sustainable development.

This approach to disability administration has addressed the crucial need for social inclusion of Persons with disabilities in all aspects of political, economic, social and cultural life which cannot be overemphasised.

To this end, all national programmes and strategies in public and private sectors are, where appropriate demonstrate disability-sensitive programming, implementation, monitoring and evaluation so as to eliminate all forms of inequality and discrimination.

The office of the President has ensured that discrimination against any person on the basis of disability is legally addressed and any violation of the inherent dignity and worth of the human person and can only be eliminated in an inclusive society therefore promote employment of persons with disabilities institutions that are not disability related as a strategy for creation of inclusive society for all.

In Botswana the inspiring theme of inclusion has been expressed often enough in the familiar phrase: “Nothing about us without us” This theme continues to inspire persons with disabilities worldwide as they aspire to live meaningful lives.

It conveys a g message that persons with disabilities are endowed with rights and human dignity and that they are able to effectively participate in the socio-economic development of their countries on an equal basis with others.

Yet persons with disabilities continue to face barriers in their participation as equal members of society and the need to eliminate these barriers shapes the disability agenda in Botswana.

The disability agenda in Botswana has benefited from the interaction with the international context with special reference to the work of the United Nations which culminated in the adoption and entry in force of the 2006 Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the initiatives of the African Union for the extension of the Plan of Action of the African Decade for People with Disabilities.

This review process has also been guided by the principles and policy guidelines contained in the World Programme of Action concerning Disabled Persons and in the Standard Rules on the Equalisation of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities.

It is in appreciation of these principles that the Government of Botswana undertakes to promote, formulate and evaluate policies, plans, programmes and actions at the national and community levels to equalise opportunities for persons with disabilities.

Persons with Disabilities have successfully aocated departure from the charity and medical models of disability to social model which is been aocated globally.

Government of Botswana has rejected to use medical model because it views disability as a disease, therefore, treating disabled people as patients but focusing exclusively on medical services to the individual, promoting and perpetuating exclusion from the mainstream of society.

It ignores the social context of disability and the fact that it is society which creates the disabling environmental and attitudinal barriers which stand in the way of social inclusion.

Since the global perspective has now shifted to the “social model” of disability, which focuses on the different ways in which the disabling physical, psychosocial and cultural barriers exclude persons with disabilities and takes a more holistic approach to interventions that effectively address their special needs, countries must learn from each other and move with time if real society for all is to be created.

This paradigm shift has influenced Botswana policy review process that now sees the housing of this Policy move from the Ministry of Health to the Office of the President for g policy direction and coordination.

The move of disability administration from the ministry of health in Botswana to the office of the president has significant developments that include broadened understanding of the human rights approach to disability issue which is a paradigm and it has helped the understanding disability issues for effective administration which include areas such as such as health, the role of gender, social development, multiple marginalised status like race, tribe and disability.

The Government of Botswana has addressed the dependency created by the charity and welfare model which dis-empowers persons with disabilities, isolates and marginalises them from the mainstream society.

On the other hand the Government embarked on promotion of human rights and development approach to disability which enhances the prospects of equal opportunities.

The principles of equal rights implies that the needs of each and every individual are of equal importance, and that planning and policy making should be based on those needs.

The rights and respect for the dignity of persons with disabilities shall never triumph over prejudice and differential treatment in the absence of a firm commitment on the part of the Government and without the support and participation of the Civil Society and Disabled Peoples’ Organisations (DPOs).

Disability administration in the office of the president has create a society that is fully inclusive and which provides equal opportunities and access to services to persons with disabilities which depends upon the extent to which the Government, and the society at large, overcomes the attitudinal, historical, cultural, social, economic and political barriers that stand in the way of this collective vision.

The mission of the Coordinating Office for People with Disabilities in the office of the president in Botswana (CPWD) exists to develop and coordinate the implementation of policies, strategies and programmes through mainstreaming them into development agenda to empower persons with disabilities with the vision to Barrier-Free Environment for Independent and Empowered persons with disabilities and add value to the following

liTo coordinate the development of national policies, strategies and programmes aimed at the empowerment and wellbeing of people with disabilities.li
liTo coordinate the implementation of national policies, strategies and programmes aimed at the empowerment and wellbeing people with disabilities.li
liTo monitor and evaluate national policies, strategies and programmes aimed at the empowerment and wellbeing people with disabilities.li
liTo ensure that disability issues are mainstreamed into all sector policies and programmes.li
liTo ensure active involvement and participation of people with disabilities in policy processes, i.e. formulation, implementation, review, monitoring and evaluation.li
liTo ensure effectiveness of national structures dealing with disability issues.li
liTo mobilise resources for the implementation of policies and programmes aimed at addressing disability issues.li

Every sector within government, private sector and non-governmental are expected to render services to persons with disabilities on equal bases this is mainly because disability is a cross cutting issue.

The Coordinating Office for People with Disability therefore coordinates these sectors in the implementation of disability programmes.

From above it is clear that positioning of disability issues in the office of the president is the best way of having effect and influential position within Government and civil society.

It is our hope that our readers from various Governments and ministry will take time to learn from Botswana and take best practice to improve service delivery.

For your letters please send to us on P.O. BOX 34490 Lusaka, Zambia or use our South African Address.

The author is Regional Disability policy Analyst for SADC and Inclusive Development Aisor for Africa, Centre for Disability Development Research, Law and Policy, Johannesburg.

Source : The Times of Zambia

Category: Governance

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