With the support from Foundation for Civil Society, Tanzania League for the Blind (TLB) has been advocating for the rights of People with Disabilities (PWDs) to access important services. Unlike others, PWDs have special needs to help them live like other people without disabilities. This project on advocacy for the rights of PWDs has helped People with Disabilities live decent and improved lives and supports their inclusion. Before, PWDs were largely seen as non-productive or contributing members of the society thus relegated to the margins of community’s socio-economic spheres.
How the project cut the cost of disability
One major challenge PWDs faced was by necessity, they had to pay over the odds to get important products and services to live normal life. Products such as lotions to protect People with Albinism (PWA) from sunburn are expensive and sold from TZS 50,000/- to TZS 90,000/-. This is too costly for the majority with income of $2 or lower per day.
Juma Mageshi, a person with albinism and a leader of Tanzania Albino Society (TAS) said; ‘‘it is important the government and other stakeholders help to support us as the special lotion is expensive. A person with albinism needs at least 3 bottles of the lotion in 6 months.’’
Isaac with visual impairment said also; ‘‘the white canes for those with blindness and visual impairment cost up to TZS 50,000/- per white can’’.
TLB has been engaging with the district government in Kwimba in addressing some of these impending challenges. As the results from 2017/2018 and 2018/2019 budgets of about 7mil was allocated to improve the welfare of this group, as the social welfare officer Ms. Lightness of Kwimba District hospital said; ‘‘in 2017/2018 the budget allocated for people with special needs was 4mil and in 2018/2019 it was 3mil. About TZS 2,000,000/- was used for buying the special lotion for PWA, hats, sunglasses, and umbrellas. And TZS 2,000,000/- was used to cater for the needs of 118 children with disabilities.
‘‘With this support we have been able to have enough lotion in stock and this year there are 15 white cans to be distributed’’ said Mr Juma Magesha
Mr Isaac Malumbu of TLB hurried to add; “this year 3-wheel chairs would be given to PWD now they are being made in Mwanza”.
Mr. Kahindi is also the beneficiary of the white cane supported by the district social welfare office for the blind and he said now he will leave the use of a normal stick and use white can for his movement.
‘‘I am happy to receive the white cane which will be of great help to my movements. I will use it to walk with ease thanks for TLB and its partners as I used to walk with this normal stick.’’
A Special Olympics Athlete
Inclusion of PWD in sports is one highlight to note in this project, in Nov 2017 Christina Lazaro (11) a pupil at Kakora Primary school. Despite her intellectual impairment she fully participated in Special Olympics for children with disabilities in Zanzibar after she became the first in Mwanza. The social welfare department supported her participation which was escorted by her teacher.
Her teacher, Ms. Maria Maguli who had this to say;
‘‘Christina likes to run and she likes to exercise running also. She participated in 100meters lap and emerged in the 7thposition and awarded this badge. Thanks to the district government which enabled us to go to Zanzibar and paying for our food and travel cost. We hope next year we will be supported again’’
Christina said briefly that; ‘‘I was very happy to participate in the competition. I keep on doing exercises so that next year I participate and I hope I will emerge the first one in the next competition’’
Inclusion in decision making
PWDs in Kwimba have also been incorporated in the committee responsible to ensure the National Plan of Action to End Violence against Women and Children in Tanzania (NPA-VAWC) 2017/2018 – 2021/22, it is implemented at the local level where PWDs contribute their thoughts best for their communities. Those who are in the committee are Mr. Juma Magashi from TAS Kwimba and Mr. John Kabelo from CHAVITA Kwimba, Mr. Isaac Manumbu from TLB Kwimba and Mr. Nyerere Mussa from CHAWATA Kwimba). Nyerere Julius Musa had this to say; ‘‘the inclusion of PWD in these committees has increased our voice in decision making.’’ Moreover, PWDs are included in HIV/AIDs committee in the Kwimba district.
How the project has led to inclusive mobility
Friendly environment of People with Disabilities is the area where there has been major progress in the Kwimba district where slabs have been constructed in public offices, churches, and hospitals. This has enabled People with Disabilities to access public services in friendlier environment with improved mobility.
Status of PWDs in Kwimba
|Type of Disability