Africa has one of the largest populations of children with disabilities in the world. Disability in the continent has been fuelled by widespread armed conflicts and the legacy thereof, particularly in the form of uncleared mines, and by household poverty allied with a lack of adequate healthcare services.
Despite the significant scale of the challenge, sufficient attention has not been accorded to the issue, either in research, policy and legislation, or in service programming. An interconnected set of factors explain this sorry state of affairs: limited political commitment, a genuine lack of resources, and lack of knowledge of current policy, legislative and programming options. Furthermore, due to disability-related stigma, discrimination and multiple other barriers, children with disabilities are often subject to violence and sexual abuse, and often forced to work under exploitative and dangerous conditions.
In 2009, The African Child Policy Forum embarked on an ambitious research project in many countries in Africa looking at an range of issues including the scale of disability amongst children, the level of poverty in households with disabled children, levels of access to services, the barriers that impede adequate access to education, a review of laws and policies related to children with disabilities, etc. Countries studied include but are not limited to Central African Republic, Ethiopia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Uganda, and Zambia.
These various studies resulted in a number of research outputs, advocacy reports and materials enabling ACPF to engage with policy makers, civil society and other stakeholders in Africa. In 2014, ACPF released its pan-African report – the first of its kind – entitled “The African Report on Children with Disabilities: Promising Starts and Persisting Challenges” – a report that presents a synthesis of the extensive research conducted throughout the years. The report describes – including through the voices of children – and analyses the cultural, social, physical and other societal barriers preventing children with disabilities from realising their full human potential.
ACPF has also made efforts to encourage the uptake of the research evidence around the protection challenges facing children with disabilities and to strengthen the capacity of Disabled Peoples’ Organisations (DPOs) to play an effective role in advocating for the protection right of children with disabilities. The focus was also on generating a multi-stakeholder consensus towards action, including better ways of mainstreaming the rights of children with disabilities within the DPO agenda.
This page briefly presents the work of ACPF with regards to advancing the right to protection of children with disabilities in Africa. Please contact us if you need further information on the theme.