Last night on 2nd June 2014, The President of NUDOR, Dominique Bizimana joined Lynne Featherstone, the UK Minister for International Development and colleagues from the Department for International Development (DFID) Rwanda and the British High Commissioner at a dinner in Huye to discuss disability in Rwanda. He was also joined by the Presidents of the National Council of Persons of Disabilities and National Organisation of Users and Survivors Psychiartry Rwanda, the Avega Association and VSO Rwanda.
The Minister opened the evening by saying how disability was still greatly neglected in foreign aid, and how it was a personal passion to embed disability in development. She also talked of how the UK International Development Committee had scrutinised the work of the Department in a recent inquiry and offered helpful suggestions to focus more on disability.
All the guests were invited to explain some of the challenges and their work. The NUDOR President spoke about the lack of data, stigmatisation, drop out of schools and the difficulties around high political will versus difficulties in implementing policy due to lack of skills and technical knowledge. The group also talked of achievements ; such as the disability law and the Government’s work to introduce a new sign language dictionary. The conversation finished by commending the strong relationship with government in keeping the momentum going.
The Minister was particularly interested in hearing about mental health problems and psycho-social disabilities – Rwanda has an higher than average number of people who have a form of psycho-social disability- 28% compared to WHO’s estimate that 25% of the world’s population will have at some point some suffer from mental disorder.
NUDOR member, the National Organisation of Users and Survivors of Psychiatry in Rwanda described how self help groups are working across a number of districts to support persons with psycho-social disabilities (PSD). The Minster was then presented with a gift – a small photo album showcasing income generating activities of the groups.
DFID Rwanda has been an important supporter of the disability movement in Rwanda, funding many DPOs since 2006, with a commitment until 2016. Thanks to support from DFID Rwanda, there is now a strong legislative framework and clear prioritisation from the Government of Rwanda. And more is being done – VSO Rwanda now supports DFID Inspired 17 projects, including NUDOR and a number of its members, which aim to reach over 10,000 persons with disabilities and other stakeholders including decision makers and technical staff at Ministerial level and local government.