PFP-IDE alumnus Allan Kabaale, executive director of the Disability Employment Rights Initiative, has co-authored an letter to the Prime Minister of Uganda and the National Taskforce on COVID-19 that presents a four-part plan of action to include PWD in emergency response and recovery. In the letter, Allan and fellow self-advocates in Uganda present the following recommendations on how to provide disability-inclusive food relief, transportation, health support, and economic intervention.
1. FOOD RELIEF
Uganda’s Ministry of Disaster Preparedness and Refugees is already distributing food to the vulnerable poor, but it has also directed that food distribution should commence only in the central business districts of Kampala and Wakiso, where there is high population.
However, PWDs depend on small businesses which are mainly carried out in town or city centers across the country. The standard operating procedures are strictly enforced here and have closed most commerce. To address this:
- Leaders of persons with disabilities need to be on COVID-19 Taskforces at the National and District Level;
- Affirmative action is needed during food relief distribution;
- Disabled Peoples Organisations must be allowed to extend relief to PWDs
People with disabilities need special consideration in transport arrangements especially during the COVID-19 lockdown. This is because they mainly depend on other people to move from one point to other especially long distances.
- All persons with disabilities with private cars should be given stickers
- A person driving or riding a person with a disability should be left to proceed
- Resident District Commissioners (RDCs) and other authorities should respond in a timely manner to a caller who introduces him/herself as a PWD in need of transport assistance.
Persons with disabilities have general and specific disability associated health issues.
- Measures should be put in place to enable persons with disabilities access medical attention or drugs with ease.
- Alternatively door deliveries can be made where possible to avoid drug abuse.
- Persons with disabilities should in time disclose any health issues to the concerned authorities or health personnel through the possible means.
4. ECONOMIC INTERVENTIONS
Persons with disabilities will face harder economic challenges post the COVID-19 lockdown. Government and other stakeholders need to come up with possible economic interventions after this crisis:
- Accessing special disability grant should be simplified.
- District disability grant needs to be increased.
- All livelihood programs should be made disability sensitive and inclusive.
- Tax exemptions or reductions on business persons with disabilities.
The letter has been co-signed by the directors of several Ugandan DPOs, including the Foundation for Persons with Disabilities and Women and Children with Albinism of Uganda. It is also addressed to Uganda’s Ministry of Health and Ministry of Gender, Labor and Economic Development. Allan and his partners are determined to continue their advocacy for greater inclusion in COVID-19 response.
Allan Kabaale is the executive director of the Disability Employment Rights Initiative. He spent his PFP-IDE Fellowship at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center in Fall 2019.