Local gov’t councils in Masaka urged to prioritise PWDs in fight against poverty

MASAKA –Rights advocates in Masaka district have appealed to leaders at all levels of local government councils to put more emphasis on mainstreaming issues affecting persons with disabilities [ PWDs ] into programmes aimed at fighting household poverty.

The rights activists made the call yesterday as Uganda joined the rest of the world to commemorate International Day of Persons with Disabilities [IDPD] under the national theme: “Leadership and mindset change: a tool for inclusive development.”

Mike Miiro, the champion and rights advocate of PWDs in Masaka said many of them are suffering from abject poverty because they are blind, deaf, lame while others have mental health challenges.

He said claimed most PWDs are not included in financial inclusion programmes. ”We want local government councils to prioritise issues affecting PWDs so that they can be empowered to participate in sustainable development activities and end poverty,” he said.

Despite Miiro’s claims, government in its programmes like Emyooga and Parish Development [PDM] has ring-fenced some funds for the PWDs.

Miiro added: ”PWDs in Masaka district and in the city have the capacity and ability to participate in development activities but they are excluded from economic opportunities and they are still living in extreme poverty.”

He said PWDs in Masaka find hard to access financial services like affordable loans that can help them fight poverty in their homes.

In a brief interview, Dick Bugembe the chairperson of Masaka District Persons Living with HIV/Aids [MADIPHA] said they are vulnerable and economically marginalised.

”It is unfair for some people who look at our physical disability and deny us opportunities to access financial services and jobs yet we can use our brains to successfully do them,” he said.

He noted there is need for government to sensitise PWDs on financial inclusion programmes so that they benefit them.

He said MADIPHA has embarked on mobilising and training its members on proposal writing so that they get funding for their small income-generating projects.

Masaka District LC5 Chairman, Andrew Batemyeto said as leaders they are aware of the disparities faced by the PWDs, and that they have asked their leaders to document all the issues affecting them so that they are supported more come 2022/23 financial year.

Masaka district community development officer, Lillian Musisi said the district is implementing the PDM and Emyooga programmes as some of the strategies for enhancing the incomes and welfare of PWDs as well as other vulnerable people still in the subsistence sector.

She said they are working with organisations and commercial banks to help PWD access financial literacy and funding. “We have written to banks like Centenary Bank to offer loans to PWDs at low interest rates,” he said.

According to the United Nations, there is an estimated one billion people living with disabilities worldwide and face many barriers to inclusion in many key aspects of society.

There is concern that PWDs do not enjoy access to society on an equal basis with others, which includes areas of transportation, employment, and education as well as social and political participation.

IDPD falls on the 3rd of December each year, with the aim of promoting empowerment, and helping to create real opportunities for PWDs. The United Nations theme for IDPD 2022 is ‘Transformative solutions for inclusive development: the role of innovation in fuelling an accessible and equitable world’.

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