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Disability News: Africa

  • Synopsis: Last Revised/Updated: 2017-05-23 - News and informative articles relating to current health and disability issues in Africa and South Africa.

In Africa, an estimated 60-80 million people are living with disabilities today. USAID missions throughout sub-Saharan Africa, and elsewhere, provide financial and technical assistance to people living with disabilities, including those who were disabled as a result of war and conflict.

Disabled people are estimated at 10 percent of the general African population, but possibly as high as 20 percent in the poorer regions. The vast majority of Africans with disabilities are excluded from schools and opportunities to work, virtually guaranteeing that they will live out their lives as the poorest of the poor. School enrollment for the disabled is estimated at no more that 5-10 percent. For many begging becomes a sole means of survival.

Every day in Africa, many people are disabled by malnutrition and disease, environmental hazards, natural disasters, traffic and industrial accidents, civil conflict and war. According to Rehabilitation International, it is estimated that 350-500 people worldwide become amputees each day due to landmines that they encounter while walking, farming, or playing.

The number of people living with disability in Africa is increasing. Factors that contribute to the growing number in Africa include:

South Africa signed and ratified the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and its optional protocol in 2007. Furthermore, the South African Constitution specifically enshrines equality for persons with disabilities under Article 9(3). Yet, it is not clear how the current bill will take this nation closer to full implementation of the Constitution and the Convention. While the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs commented upon the coming into force of the Convention in 2008, that South Africa "has committed itself to removing all barriers faced by persons with disabilities," this bill is easily assailable for not living up to this statement. There is a great need to foster the establishment of a South African disability studies literature and to promote the views of disabled people.

The South African Disability Alliance (SADA) is a body that is made up of the twelve national organizations that represent disability in South Africa. This organization was formerly known as the Federal Council on Disability and has now been reconstituted to be a body of consensus, and the voice of the disability sector in South Africa. The 12 SADA national organizations are:

Any vision for the future of Africa must include people with disabilities, who constitute "a significant percentage of the community anywhere in Africa. People with disabilities have a lot of potential to take part in the development processes of their countries, yet they are in most cases excluded from most of the development programs. However, some people with disabilities in Africa are taking control of their future, according to the UN body African Decade of Person With Disability. It says, "Africa will be leading the world in numbers of disabled entrepreneurs."

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