Southern Province Minister Cornelius Mweetwa has directed all local councils in Southern Province to prioritize cooperatives run by persons with disabilities in allocation of empowerment funds under the constituency development fund (CDF)
Mr Mweetwa stated that persons with disabilities need to be put as a priority under the CDF.
The Minister was speaking when he officiated at the commemoration of the international day for persons living with disabilities in Choma.
He assured the gathering that government is alive to the challenges of persons living with disability, among them, the need for inclusion in decision making positions.
Earlier a representative of persons living with disabilities, Lundu Mwanakasale expressed sadness that government has not included any person living with disabilities in the latest appointments to various positions in government.
She complained that such an anomaly has left them feeling sidelined as they are equally capable of holding decision making positions.
Ms. Mwanakasale said access to information on the COVID-19 pandemic is a challenge for persons living with disabilities, especially the deaf as most messages are not user friendly.
She disclosed that during the disbursement of the COVID-19 emergency cash transfer for the vulnerable, most visually impaired beneficiaries were disadvantaged as they could not access the electronic codes to enable them withdraw the funds.
She added that this led to most failing to access the funds.
Meanwhile, -Government says more than 30,000 persons with disabilities in Eastern Province face numerous challenges and barriers of inclusion in key aspects of their lives.
Chipata District Commissioner Elidah Banda says 31,831 people living with disabilities in the province face challenges ranging from health, education, employment, built environment, transportation, and Information and communication technology as well as social and political participation.
Speaking yesterday as guest of honour during the commemoration of International Day of Persons with Disabilities held at David Kaunda stadium in Chipata, Mrs Banda said the COVID-19 pandemic has also brought many challenges among persons living with disabilities.
She said COVID-19 has not only affected many aspects of their lives but also revealed the extent of exclusion that most marginalized members of society especially persons with disabilities experience.
The commemoration for this year was celebrated under the theme “Leadership and Participation of Persons with Disabilities Towards An Inclusive, Accessible and Sustainable Post COVID-19 World”.
Mrs Banda said strategic planning regarding the inclusion and empowerment of persons with disabilities is central to not only upholding human rights but also reaffirming Zambia’s commitment to the promise of the 2030 Agenda aimed at combating inequalities within and among countries.
Zambia Agency for Persons with Disabilities (ZAPD) Eastern Province coordinator Kafula Nanyangwe called for the effective inclusion of persons with disabilities in programmes meant to uplift the lives of people in the province.
Ms Kafula said partnerships between ZAPD and other stakeholders will play a role in helping out vulnerable households with persons living with disabilities.
And speaking in a vote of thanks, Manix Ngwira commended government for its efforts to improve the welfare of persons with disabilities.
Mr Ngwira urged government and other stakeholders look into the welfare of persons with disabilities especially under the COVID-19 era.