Interview

Volume 8 Issue 7 - April 01, 2011

“Lack of political will on the part of decision makers is a hurdle towards mainstreaming disability”

Kalle Könkkölä
Kalle Könkkölä

‘Mainstreaming’ seems to be the buzz word in the disability sector for the past few years or so. However, despite many well intended efforts, things have not seemingly improved. Is it the lack of political will, the lack of capacity not only among Disabled People’s Organisations but even donors and Governments? Millions of dollars are still being pumped into ‘disability’ programmes but are disabled people being mainstreamed? That’s a question that many are asking. On the sidelines of a seminar on the issue organised by the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (N.O.R.A.D.) and the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Disability of the Commission for Social Development, Dorodi Sharma of D.N.I.S. caught up with a few top notch world level leaders with disabilities to find out as to what they think is the one major roadblock and the way forward.

D.N.I.S.: What is the one big obstacle in mainstreaming disability?

D.N.I.S.: What, according to you, is the way forward?

Kalle Könkkölä, Chairperson, Abilis Foundation, Finland: The lack of political will on the part of the decision makers is a huge obstacle in mainstreaming disability.

The only solution to that would be that as people with disabilities, we have to become more active.

Judith E. Heumann
Judith E. Heumann

Judith E. Heumann, Special Advisor for International Disability Rights, United States Department of State, U.S.A.: I think one major obstacle is that there is no capacity development, not only in Civil Society but also among donor countries and governments. There is also the issue of ‘timeliness’ or ‘urgency’ when you are looking at an issue.

Strong advocacy on the part of Civil Society and accountability on the part of citizens in general to ensure that a section of the population is not excluded.

Gisle Hagen, Senior Advisor, Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (N.O.R.A.D.), Norway: The lack of knowledge among development practitioners and probably lack of institutional responsibility to include disability, lack of incentives, lack of understanding of the consequences of not including disability is a major roadblock towards mainstreaming disability.

Charlotte V. McClain
Charlotte V. McClain

I think capacity building of Disabled People’s Organisations (D.P.O.s) is needed to ensure that disability is not left behind.

Charlotte V. McClain – Nhlapo, Coordinator – Disability & Inclusive Development, U.S.A.I.D., U.S.A.: I think the biggest obstacle is the lack of political will, lack of framework and capacity within organisations and agencies.

Capacity has to be created within agencies. D.P.O.s should be able to create a demand so that agencies are more responsive.

Kudakwashe A.K. Dube, Chief Executive Officer, Secretariat of the African Decade, South Africa: The lack of capacity in Government is a major obstacle. They don’t have the skills, trained manpower, no funding and absolutely no time for disability.

We need to enhance the skills of Government and also D.P.O.s. Also ensure an increase in resource allocation for mainstreaming disability within the Government.

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