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Improving lives of persons with disabilities

BENEDICT Tembo.

Analysis: BENEDICT TEMBO
BY NOW, most Zambians have seen the advertisement on DStv about the upcoming Community-Based Rehabilitation (CBR) Africa Network Conference on inclusive development scheduled to take place in Lusaka from May 8 to 11, 2018.
Over 400 delegates from different parts of the world are expected to attend the conference, whose theme is ‘CBR for resilience building and sustainable development: Leave no one behind’. It is jointly organised by CBR Africa Network (CAN) and Government.
The conference will influence stakeholders’ actions of the participating countries in ensuring disability issues are integrated in the development agenda.
Minister of Community Development and Social Services Emerine Kabanshi has described the conference as an opportunity for stakeholders to learn and share experiences on how to effectively ensure the quality of life of persons with disabilities.
“It is an important opportunity for Zambia to share her work in using the CBR approach to improve the quality of life of persons with disabilities. I implore organisations from both the public and private sectors to sponsor delegates and support this conference in one way or another,” Ms Kabanshi said.
OUTPUT
The conference aims at sharing good practices and lessons learnt, providing a forum for dialoguing among CBR participants (Government, disabled persons organisations, civil society and academia); promote disability mainstreaming and inclusion in line with the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
It will also provide opportunities for acquiring new knowledge and skills, demonstrate the work CBR practitioners have done, generate resolutions and recommendations that are relevant to human rights and inclusive development agenda.
CAN is an organisation that works to promote information sharing on CBR/disability activities in Africa. Serving as the African regional affiliate of the CBR global network, CAN ideally aims at providing lessons that inform improvement in service delivery to enhance the lives of persons with disabilities.
The niche of CAN is information sharing, which is possible through a number of activities but most importantly through organising conferences.
Five CBR conferences have been successfully organised in different African countries (2001 – Uganda, 2004 – Malawi, 2007 – South Africa, 2010 – Nigeria and 2015 – Kenya) by CAN, in collaboration with governments of the host countries, the World Health Organisation, international development partners and local stakeholders.
This conference is timely and will inform the current debate on the paradigm shift from the concept of CBR to CBID (community-based inclusive development). This shift is in tandem with the sustainable development goals, which are vastly inclusive.
Therefore, disabled people’s organisations (DPOs), national and international non-governmental organisations, and development partners, United Nations agencies, media institutions, disability service providers, civil society organisations and the business community, among other stakeholders, will meet at one place to engage in this important dialogue on contemporary issues relating to disability inclusion and sustainable development to inform an effective transition.
RATIONALE FOR CONFERENCE
The sixth CBR Africa conference is expected to bring together more than 400 delegates (persons with disabilities, governments, service providers, academia, community development agencies, development partners and all other stakeholders) from Africa and beyond, providing them with an opportunity to experience shared learning to enhance the lives of persons with disabilities.
CONFERENCE OBJECTIVES
i. Share information on the various challenges experienced and existing capacities to enhance resilience for the attainment of the sustainable development goals.
ii. Share best practice on CBR and disability mainstreaming;
iii. Influence policymakers to appreciate the CBR approach and support its implementation;
iv. Discuss how evidence-based research, including the status of disability data and statistics, can be further improved for disability inclusive implementation; and
v. Inform debate on the paradigm shift from the concept of CBR to CBID.
EXPECTED CONFERENCE OUTCOMES
i. Identification of good practice, lessons and experiences to inform the implementation of community-based rehabilitation in Zambian communities beyond May 2018.
ii. Experience sharing on disability inclusive development in the context of the efforts to achieve sustainable development and resilience building for all.
iii. Inclusion of persons with disabilities in socio-economic development, humanitarian action and enhancing equal access to rehabilitation and social services.
iv. How evidence-based research, including the status of disability data and statistics, can be further improved for disability inclusive implementation.
CONFERENCE AUDIENCE
The CBR Africa conference has several stakeholders who, among others, include African governments and relevant ministries and departments, civil society organisations, disabled people’s organisations, donor community, persons with disabilities, private sector, academia, and international organisations working on disability issues, among others.
ABOUT CBR
WHO initiated CBR following the Declaration of Alma-Ata in 1978 in an effort to enhance the quality of life for people with disabilities and their families; meet their basic needs; and ensure their inclusion and participation.
Initially a strategy to increase access to rehabilitation services in resource-constrained settings, CBR is now a multi-sectoral approach working to improve the equalisation of opportunities and social inclusion of people with disabilities while combating the perpetual cycle of poverty and disability.
CBR is implemented through the combined efforts of people with disabilities, their families and communities, and relevant government and non-government health, education, vocational, social and other services.
BENEFITS
By advertising on DStv, Government is targeting the international audience. It is determined to deliver an international conference.
The conference will see a surge in the number of visitors, delegates and media, who are expected to spend their foreign currency in the local economy during their stay.
The author is Zambia Daily Mail editorials editor.

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