Tanzania League for the Blind (TLB) has been advocating the rights of People with Disabilities to gain access to services in Kwimba District in Mwanza. Through the grants received from Foundation for Civil Society (FCS), the advocacy project implemented has helped People with Disabilities live decent, improved lives and supported their inclusion. Intervention in advocacy for people with disabilities works to fight for the rights of People with Disabilities, change the perception of members in the society and show that such people can actively contribute to their country’s social and economic development .
How the Project Relieved Product Costs for People with Disabilities
One major challenge People with Disabilities faced was the costs of buying important products and services to support their lives. Products such as lotions to protect People with Albinism (PWA) from sunburn are expensive. The cost ranges from TZS 50,000 to TZS 90,000. The price is too high for the people, the majority of whom are rural dwellers who have a daily income of a mere $2 or lower.
The leader of Tanzania Albino Society (TAS) Juma Mageshi said: “A person with albinism need at least 3 bottles of the lotion in 6 months, but the products are too expensive for many to afford. The Government and other stakeholders support in attaining the special lotion helps so many people with albinism. I am grateful to the Government because it supports people with disabilities. Through its support, it has been possible to have enough lotions in stock and this year there are 15 white canes for people who are visually impaired.”
Tanzania League of the Blind Secretary Isack Manumbu explained the financial challenge faced in buying white canes which support the movement for people who are visually impaired: “A white cane costs up to TZS 50,000. The white canes support the movement of people with disabilities, but because they are too expensive, we use ordinary canes, but they are not as effective as the white cane.”
TLB has been engaging with the district government in Kwimba in addressing some of these challenges. As a result of TLB’s advocacy, 2017/18 and 2018/19 budgets of about TZS 7 million was allocated to improve the welfare of people with disabilities. Kwimba District Social Welfare Officer Lightness of Kwimba District hospital said; “In 2017/18 the budget allocated for people with special needs was TZS 4 million and in 2018/19 it was TZS 3mil. About TZS 2 million was used for buying special lotion for PWAs, hats, sunglasses and umbrellas. And TZS 2 million was used to cater for the needs of 118 children with disabilities.”
Mr Kahindi is also a beneficiary of the white canes supported by the district social welfare office for people who are visually impaired said that he will stop using an ordinary cane, for it is not well suited for his movements and that white cane are specifically suited for people who are visually impaired. “I am happy to receive the white cane, which will be of great help to me in my movements. I will use it to walk with ease thanks to TLB and its partners as I used to walk with this ordinary cane which did not support my movements as much as the white cane does”
Special Olympics Athlete
Inclusion of people with disabilities in sports is one of the highlights of the project. In November, 2017 Christina Lazaro (11) a pupil at Kakora Primary School who has Intellectual health challenges fully participated in the Special Olympics for children with disabilities in Zanzibar after she won a tournament in Mwanza. The Social Welfare Department supported Christina’s participation in the Special Olympics. One of her teachers escorted her to Zanzibar.
Her teacher, Ms Maria Maguli, who had this to say: “Christina likes to run and she is always practicing. She participated in 100 meters race in the Special Olympics in Zanzibar and emerged the 7thplace. She was presented with a badge for her effort. Her participation in the Special Olympics, including our travel and other expenses in Zanzibar were made possible by the district authorities. We hope next year we will be supported again.”
For her part, Christina said: “I was very happy to participate in the competition. I keep on training so that next year I will participate again and I hope I will emerge the winner in the competition.”
Inclusion in Decision Making
People with disabilities in Kwimba District have also been included in decision-making committees where their representatives can voice their views on various issues that concern them and their community. There is a representative from TAS, Chama Cha Walemavu Tanzania (CHAWATA), TLB and Chama Cha Viziwi Tanzania (CHAVITA) Mr Nyerere Julius Musa of CHAVITA had this to say: “The inclusion of PWDs in these committees has increased our voice in decision making.” Moreover, pWDs are included in the Kwimba District HIV/AIDS Committee. .
How the Project Has Led to Inclusivity
TLB has facilitated for a more friendly environment of PWDs in the area where there has been major progress in Kwimba District where slabs have been constructed in public offices, churches and hospitals. This has enabled PWAs to access public services in a friendlier environment with improved mobility.
Status of People with Disabilities in Kwimba
|Type of Disability||Male||Female||Total|
|People who are Blind||215||123||338|
|People Who are Deaf||306||307||613|