One billion individuals, or 15% of the world’s population, suffer a form of disability, and the rate of disability in developing countries like Nigeria is higher. One-fifth of the global population, or between 110 million and 190 million individuals, have severe disabilities. According to the World Health Organization’s 2011 World Disability Report, about 15 percent of Nigeria’s population, or at least 25 million people, have a disability.
People with disabilities are more likely to face adverse socio-economic effects, such as low education, poor health outcomes, low employment levels and increased poverty.
As COVID-19 continues to have far-reaching effects around the world, it is important to remember how people with disabilities are uniquely affected by the disease outbreak, including healthcare, education and transportation challenges.
In the context of health, many people with disabilities have additional underlying healthcare needs that make them more vulnerable to significant complications of COVID-19, when they contract it. People with disabilities may also be at greater risk of acquiring COVID-19 since information on the condition, like signs and symptoms, is not given in accessible formats such as Braille print resources, sign language interpretation, captions, audio and graphics. Even where these accessible formats exist, education to comprehend these formats are lacking.
With extensive school closures, children with disabilities lack access to basic facilities such as food programmes, assistive technologies, access to resources, sports programmes, extracurricular activities and water, sanitation and hygiene systems. COVID-19 has contributed to a sudden change in the position of parent/caregiver working jointly as teachers in addition to worsening the digital gap between students on access to facilities, electricity and the Internet.
When public transit networks limit or stop services due to COVID-19, people with disabilities who rely on these systems for accessible transport are unable to move around for basic needs or essential medical appointments.
The barriers to complete social and economic integration of people with disabilities include inaccessible physical and transportation settings, limited access to assistive equipment and technologies, insufficient means of communication, disparities in service quality and discriminatory social prejudice and stigma.
Poverty will raise the risk of impairment through malnutrition, insufficient access to education and healthcare, unsafe working environments, a polluted environment, and limited access to clean water and sanitation. Disability can also raise the risk of poverty by limiting of employment opportunities and reduced access to education, reduced incomes and higher costs of living with disabilities.
Global understanding of disability-inclusive development is growing. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) facilitates the complete inclusion of persons with disabilities into society. The CRPD explicitly reflects the importance of international development in resolving the rights of people with disabilities.
The 2030 Plan for Sustainable Development explicitly notes that disability cannot be a justification or a criterion for lack of access to development programming and the enforcement of human rights. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) framework contains seven priorities that specifically apply to persons with disabilities and six additional targets for individuals in disadvantaged circumstances, including persons with disabilities.
“Before becoming a CAHW I used to make local embroidery service for nearby households, which I now halted because I get more money in my CAHW business- I can vaccinate 50 local chicken at 30 naira per chicken and 35-40 small ruminants at 50 naira a day. Local embroidery takes a long time- at least one and a half month before completing one gown.’’ — Ruqaiyya Aliyu CAHW, Zaria, Kaduna state.
Propcom Mai-Karfi’s Work towards Disability Inclusion
The Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) took a strong stance towards mainstreaming disability across its programmes at a Global Summit in July 2018. This was in line with the drive of the Sustainable Development Goals (SGDs) in attaining the ‘leave no one behind’ objective, thereby developing a disability strategy. The three main areas identified as requiring more work includes economic empowerment, stigma, and discrimination as well as mental health and intellectual disability.
FCDO requested Propcom Mai-karfi to track disability within the programme. Propcom Mai-karfi adopted the Washington Group short set of questions on disability and mainstreamed them within the Results Measurement (RM) system. Since 2018, these questions have been administered to programme beneficiaries and non-beneficiaries across several interventions.
Following this, a more in-depth study was conducted in 2019 to understand disability in the context of Northern Nigeria. This study established the practical steps needed to facilitate suitable strategies for participation and impact on people living with disabilities (PWDs).
In summary, Propcom Mai-karfi has been working towards disability inclusion in the design and delivery of its programme. This is in line with ensuring that everyone has a chance at life opportunities, leaving no one behind. The monitoring of individuals with disabilities (PWD) In ongoing interventions using the Washington Group Survey method, led to the understanding that a more targeted effort was needed to integrate people with disabilities in a positive manner.
Disability inclusion seminars have been held for employees and implementation partners to increase awareness and understanding of the position of PWDs to foster inclusive value chains, product and service delivery structures. Advocacy visits have been made to PWD associations in each of the nine programme states to identify opportunities and ways of substantive inclusion.
“Our engagement by AMBUVET (an implementing partner of Propcom Mai-karfi) has made us more recognised by community and government as our supervisors are public servants, and they(AMBUVET) have advertised our trade and now I wake up to 4-5 missed calls requesting for me to go for vaccination service. As a result of this, even my village head and community members hail me as ‘Doctor’ whenever they see me. AMBUVET has made it possible for us to mingle in places we normally wouldn’t, thus giving us confidence.” — Aliyu Ibrahim, PwD Community Animal Health Worker, Kaduna state.
Propcom Mai-karfi is also working with PWDs in the areas of capacity building, participation at demonstration activities, environmentally sustainable food production and retailing, such as improved cookstoves and briquettes, waste management and poultry farming. Propcom Mai-karfi also supports PWD entrepreneurial groups to grow and improve their business practices.
McKenzie, J.A., McConkey, R. & Adnams, C. (2013). Intellectual disability in Africa: implications for research and service development.
Mitra, S., Posarac, A., & Vick, B. (2013). Disability and poverty in developing countries: a multidimensional study.
Precious, N.S., Roy, D., Mohammed, B., Kevin, G., Belinda, B., Hauwa, K.A., Mohammed, N.A. (2019). Understanding Disability in the Context of Northern Nigeria. – unpublished