NFPDN, Stakeholders for Increased AT Budgets in Namibia
24 August, 2018
In Namibia, there is need to intensify advocacy for the increase in budget allocation not only for general disability service provision but also, in particualar for increased access to assistive technology by persons with disabilities in the country.
During the Assistyive Technology Seminar co-organized by he Southern Africa Federation of the Disabled (SAFOD) and its national affiliate, the National Federation of People with Disabilities in Namibia (NFPDN), held on 24 August 2018 in Windhoek, Namibia, stakeholders acknowledged that while the Government provides support to Persons with Disabilities through the disability allowances, not much is done in teh area of assisting PWDs with apprpriate assistive technology. A lot of PWDs in need of various types of AT were still unable to access them.
The event aimed to increase awareness about the range of AT products available, and identify challenges and possible solutions to increasing access to AT in Zambia.
The seminar is part of the the Assistive Technology Information Mapping project (AT-Info-Map) currently being implemented by SAFOD in 10 countries in Southern Africa, namely Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Zambia, South Africa, Mozambique, Angola, Swaziland, Namibia and Zimbabwe. This innovative project is currently capturing, organizing, and mapping availability of AT with a mobile data system called CommCare.
Throughout the project, a series of consultation meetings and workshops with various stakeholders, including relevant government ministries, AT suppliers, rehabilitation professionals, and disability advocates, have yielded a number of lessons regarding AT, key among them is the need for increasing general awareness about AT.
During the Windhoek AT seminar, stakeholders recommnded need to eliminate a complete free disability service concept and instead introduce the concept of "control environment", meaning free service should be available to unemployed while the working class should be charged accordingly.
Under the concept, the more one earns the more they pay for the services that will ensure the sustainability of service available to the marginalized PWDs without compromising quality.
SAFOD plans to continue holding other AT awareness events in Southern Africa to help the organization, together with its core partners – the University of Washington and the African Network for Evidence–to-Action in Disability (AfriNEAD) – to gain a deeper understanding of the key issues affecting levels of access to AT by persons with disabilities in the region, and competently advise DPOs, Governments and other stakeholders regarding viable strategies that can help to increase AT access by persons with disabilities.