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DISABILITY INCLUSION KNOWLEDGE GAP

It is quite interesting to see the level of ratification and domestication of CRPD in West African countries. The positive interests of development and non profit partners to promote rights of persons with Disabilities keep increasing. However, the challenge has always been the knowledge gap of what constitutes disability rights and how to promote them.

There has been cases where some countries within the West African Subregion have ratified and domesticated the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) but have not progressed much on implementing the CRPD. Most of the times, this problem is as a result of the lack of understanding of what constitute the disability rights and or lack of understanding of how to tackle the problems of disability rights abuse.

Not many countries in West Africa have complied with CRPD article 21 which seeks to promote rights of the disabled to access information with ease. For instance, many public places do not have disability friendly facilities such as ramp for the physically challenged and voice recognition for the visually impaired and survivors of leprossy. The absence of these facilities make it difficult for the disabled to attend meetings and seminars where public information can easily be obtained. In the same vain, brail is not always provided for the visually impaired to enable them read documents. some countries do not have domesticated law to enforce the CRPD while some have laws that are weak and hence, cannot implement CRPD effectively. countries such as Nigeria just signed the law domesticating the promotion of Rights of Persons with Disabilities and have not fully commenced the implementation.

NGO participants also have not really understood the best approach to talking the Disability rights abuse though they have demonstrated a lot of interest in promoting rights of persons with Disabilities especially in the area of right of access to information during meetings and conferences.

Recently, Humanity and Inclusion (formally known as Handicap International) came to Nigeria for regional capacity building for WAFOD member, JONAPWD. HI demonstrated great interest for disability rights promotion but did not have full grasp of some of the basic rights such as rights to sign language interpretation by the deaf members of the disabled community. Also, the basic rights of personal aids for physically challenged persons and the visually impaired persons were not taken into cognisance.

A step in the right direction is the WAFOD proadiph project on information communication through web based article writing by trained editors across West Africa. However, this is not enough as one would expect all encompassing approach to solving disability rights abuses.

Therefore, it has become pertinent that all stakeholders in the fight against disability rights abuses must work harder to bring about increased promotion of Rights of Persons with Disabilities in West Africa. ECOWAS, member countries, international donors, NGOs and the public have their different roles to play if we must record sustainable development and successes in the fight against disability rights abuses in West Africa.

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