Research Uncovers Reasons behind Beggary Culture among Disables

Recent research has revealed that stigmatizations and marginalization of people living with disabilities in Nigeria were on increase, and also the major reason behind their resort to begging of alms for livelihood.

According to the research, majority of the disables in the country were unemployed, lack access to education, even as their needs were often relegated or non-included in governance by their able bodied counterparts, who dominate all the economy and power.

The survey research was carried out by Care for the Physically Challenged and Destitute Foundation (CAPCADF) Awka in collaboration with the Joint National Association of Persons with Disabilities (JONAPWD), Anambra Chapter, and co-funded by the Justice Development and Peace Commission (JDPC), Onitsha; the Christian Aid (CA) Nigeria and Development for International Development (DFID) as part of her Voice to the People (V2P) Project Phase 11.
Entitled “Setting a strategic space to meet the need of persons with disabilities”, the research was conducted across three Council Areas in Anambra State; namely Anambra West, Idemili North and Orumba North last year, but its’ findings was recently presented at the Local Government and State level.
Presenting the report, the founder of CAPCADF, Mrs. Gloria Nwafor disclosed that a total of 1500 questionnaires were distributed to the persons with disabilities in each of the 44 communities under the three selected LGAs, but 1244 were returned, out of which 704 representing 56.59% were males, while 540 (43.41%) were females.

Mrs. Nwafor, who pointed out that the basic tools her team of researchers used to gather data in the study was questionnaire designed to elicit information on the respondents’ sex, age, marital-status, type of impairment, level of education, type of employment and level of participation in governance, explained that 610 respondents representing 49.04% of persons with impairment did not acquire any form of formal education, while 336 (27.01%) possess primary education as their highest level of education, 33 respondents (2.65%) had vocational education while those that attained post primary and tertiary institution education were 221 (17%) and 44 (3.54%).

The report which was made available to our reporter, says that 1019 respondents (81.91%) are unemployed, 179 respondents (14.15%) are self employed, 38 (3.05%) work as public servant and 11 (0.88%) work in private sector, thereby supporting the claims of the disable last two years the Anambra state civil service Commission recruited new officers without inclusion of at least 1% of their qualified members.

It further pointed out that 942 (75.72%) have not receive any form of empowerment from either the government or private individuals, while only 152(12.22%) had received empowerment which include Desktop and laptop computers, shoemaking machines, sewing machines, oven, grinding machine, gas cooker, and others; but 136 (10.93%) once received mobility aids, 12 (0.96%) hearing aids, 2 (0.16%) visual aids, meaning they needed more of such from both the state government and individuals.

On health care, the research report showed that none of the physically challenged person (0%) out of the 1244 respondents had ever benefited from free health services either from the government or individual in Anambra; even as 1010 (81.19%) respondents affirmed that they were often excluded from participating in community meetings against 186 (14.95%), who said they had involved in such.

Again, 36 (3.14%) respondents said they have been participating in electoral meetings, while 9 (0.72%) also partook in budget meetings.

Delving into the Anambra State 2015 fiscal year budget proposal, the research work uncovered that the sum of N430, 200,000.00 was mapped out for the Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development (the ministry that cater for their needs) out of which N15, 872,541,000.00 was allocated to the social welfare unit representing 2.7% of the entire social sector and a meager of 2.7% of the entire total capital.

They hereby recommended that there should be an increase in allocation on the budget line of assistive device for persons with disability as N10,000,000.00 is meager compared to their number in Anambra state in cluster.

In recommendations, unanimously endorsed by the physically challenged persons and their care/support groups, they called on the Anambra State Government, the State House of Assembly and other relevant stakeholders to facilitate the passage of Disability Rights Bill into law as that would help in addressing their myriads of needs.

Among other recommendations is that effort should be made to increase their access to education, government at all levels should guarantee them participatory access in policy making, development, implementation and monitoring to better present their needs.

They also advocated for increase on government budget line items for them, stressing also that the State ministries of agriculture, health, education and agriculture should provide for their needs, while other interventions targeted at disables in the state ought to be designed to tackle the high percentage of unemployment.

While making case for scholarship scheme to fend for the educationally disadvantaged among them, the report urged the government to provide well equipped and functional skills acquisition centers so as to enable the physically challenged persons develop their talents for self sufficiency because according to the report, majority of them are capable and ready to join force with their able counterparts to transform the country through their God’s giving talents and skills.

It however, pointed out that provisions of mobility aids, hearing aids for the hearing impaired (deaf and dumb), visual aids for the visual impaired (the blind), among others would empower them to feel among; implored the relevant agencies and government to assist CAPCADF to carry out another comprehensive mapping study in other 18 LGAs in the state.

The copies of the research reports and charter of demands of the physically challenged persons were last week, presented to the three piloted local government Chairmen and their legislative chambers (Councillors) at their respective Headquarters, as well as to the state government in Awka, under the title “A Report on the situation of persons with disabilities in 3 pilot LGA (Anambra West, Idemili-North and Orumba North)” and “Charter of Demand on Persons with disabilities”.

Reacting to the research work, the Anambra State Director, Joint National Association of Persons with Disabilities, Mr. Lawrence Nwanolue, while emphasizing the importance of passing the disability bill into law, pointed out that they are worst sufferer of the poor economic situation in the country despite that they are bonafide citizens of the country and free to participate in all affairs of the society like any other person.

Also speaking, Mr. Uche Egbuluche of the Onitsha JDPC, enjoined the government at all level to rise up to its responsibility of catering for the needs of the less privileged and disable in their societies, stressing that government was the most positioned to champion the course of the entire populace, especially the physically challenged persons.

Speaking after receiving the various works at the state level, the state Commissioner of Women Affairs and Social Development, Hon. Victoria Chikelu and her counterpart in the Ministry of Economic Planning and Budgeting, Prof. Solomon Chukwulobelu through their representatives, pledged to study the findings and pass them over to Governor Willie Obiano for prompt action.

In a similar vein, Hon. Francisca Nwanne, a Councillor who represented legislative chamber of Idemili North Council Area, while receiving the reports, thanked the sponsors of the project for the work well done and promised to present it to her colleagues for consideration and passage.

Meanwhile, District Justice Ify Okoye (a physically challenged legal luminary) has inaugurated 12 engagement officers at the state level to effectively monitor the projects.

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Ihesiulo Grace

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