When attending a meeting last month with the deputy minister in the vice-president’s office responsible for disability affairs, Alexia Manombe Ncube, it came to light that Namibia is very short on programmes to address the welfare of the disabled.
People with disabilities still seem to be taken for granted as being just in the background but they need to be viewed and treated equally just as others.
Long back many of our people were not vocal on the issue and many were in exile – and disability programmes were not regarded as much as well. However, since our independence countries such as Zambia, Zimbabwe, South Africa and Uganda have influenced us to come up with and initiate disability programmes as they felt Namibia was really lagging behind in such programmes to better care for the disabled.
The press must also give more coverage of the circumstances in which the disabled live to encourage rehabilitation, social integration and promote equal employment opportunities for our fellow citizens living with disabilities.
Programmes are needed to purchase equipment and supplies for carpentry, sewing, welding and handicraft production and on using the equipment – to train women and men for the purpose of developing their skills into a sustainable livelihood.
The concerns of people with disabilities are typically overlooked in many countries and Namibia as a developing country is no exception. However, there appears to be the beginning of light at the end of the tunnel with the establishment of the new office for disability affairs in the vice-president’s office.
However, there is a long way to go to understand the challenges such citizens face and society needs to better acknowledge their human rights and developmental needs, and help to make a change in their lives.
They must also help come up with programmes and strategies to address adequate development and proper interventions, which would lead to a better allocation of resources.
The ombudsman has a specific chapter on disabilities and has distributed guidelines on how to adapt particular protocols when it comes to disability affairs.
The office of disability affairs should also adapt the issue of health industrialization, peace and stability, productive and sustained natural resources, and regional and international cooperation.
A policy from 1997 states that our dignity must be respected together with the inabilities of people.
Our Golden Lady Johana Benson is a clear definition that even a disabled person can make a change in his or her own life and society.