Visually impaired in funding dilemma

by Selma Ikela

Windhoek

It remains unclear whether the Namibian Federation of the Visually Impaired (NFVI) will continue operating beyond April 30, because government has not yet answered their plea for financial assistance.

With only 25 days left, the federation is expected to close its doors at the end of this month after almost 30 years due to drying up of donor funding.



The Finnish government is reducing its funding to the Finish Federation of Visually Impaired, which will affect the budget the Namibian organisation benefited from for many years.

Established in 1986 and it has over 15 000 members in all the 14 regions.

NFVI executive director Moses Nghipandulwa said up to now they did not have any meeting with government to come up with solutions.

“The future looks uncertain, because… there have not not been any concrete discussion that took place so far. I don’t know if there will be a future for the [organisation of the] visual impaired or not,” he said.

Importantly, those who will be negatively affected are prospective learners, who will need to undergo the rehabilitation programme which equips visually impaired people with mobility and braille training as well as support in daily living and computer training.

NFVI is the only organisation in Namibia that offers such training. Hence they are calling on government to intervene so that they can remain operational.

He said they wrote to the Office of the Prime Minister to clarify their predicament. In that letter the federation sought an audience with Deputy Minister in the Presidency Alexia Manombe-Ncube, the National Disability Council of Namibia and the department of rehabilitation in the Ministry of Health and Social Services.

He said the OPM responded to their letter and requested them to inform the OPM about the discussions they had with all parties involved: “That’s what we did and up to now the OPM didn’t come back to us.”

Nghipandulwa says as an emergency measure they cut salaries by 50 percent. The organisation is currently operating with money they saved, income from when they produced braille material, and a 15 percent subsidy they get from the Ministry of Health and Social Services.

Furthermore, one employee mentioned that there are individuals willing to assist the organization, but alleged that government is telling such people that the federation does not want to hand over their property and assets.

The employee said this is not the case, adding that the United Nations convention states that government should support organisations of people with disabilities, but not to take their property and assets.

The FFVI has been the main donor since 1986, providing 85 percent of financial support, which pays salaries, administrative costs, municipal bills and NFVI events, like the White Cane Day, amongst others.

 

 

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