Embedding disability inclusion in Cameroon councils
July 12, 2022
To address the challenges people with disabilities face, CBM Australia is working with partners in Cameroon to embed disability inclusion in local councils, making the self-empowerment of people with disabilities part of everyday community governance.
Like in many African countries, people with disabilities in Cameroon face many barriers in life – from being able to access buildings to getting a job or participating in school. But once you empower one, ten more will follow.
The catalyst for getting councils interested in disability issues was widespread concern over motorbike accidents resulting in increasing disability through injuries. CBM’s partner worked to influence mayors and local councils to go beyond individual acts of charity – what they called “giving out blankets” – and change the environment for people with disabilities to make public life more inclusive.
“Disability is now part and parcel of Council sessions,” said one council member.
Many councils in the northwest of Cameroon involved in the program have appointed disability focal points to advise on disability inclusion in council development plans. As a result, budget lines have been set up to address the empowerment of people with disability; jobs schemes set up to employ youth with disabilities; essential documents for people with disabilities are provided free of charge, and buildings and council events are becoming more accessible through ramps and sign language interpreters.
This is creating a multiplier effect for people with disabilities to take the initiative to open new spaces of inclusion. One woman involved in an association for people with disability described her sense of empowerment:
“We used to go to the church asking for their pity. Recently our group went to them with three bags of cement and asked them to build a ramp into the church. They were shocked at how bold we were.”
However, more work still needs to be done.
Spurred on by their local council’s actions, the group is discussing trying to get their church to hire a pastor with a mobility impairment. This is the kind of virtuous spiral of planning, leveraging good works, and envisioning a brighter, more disability-inclusive future that CBM seeks to support.
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