The Lives of Children with Disabilities in Africa: Glimpses into a Hidden World

  • Children with Disabilities
Pages: 86
Year of Publication: 2011
Country: Africa

The lives of children with disabilities in Africa: A glimpse into a hidden world is a multiple country study conducted by the African Child Policy Forum (ACPF). The study took place in Ethiopia, South Africa, Senegal and Uganda – all countries that have ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. In Ethiopia, Senegal and Uganda, approximately 1,339 children with disabilities and 1,473 primary caregivers were interviewed. In South Africa, a desk review was conducted of  the situation for children with disabilities.

This project looked at various aspects of the realities facing children with disabilities in selected countries in Africa, including the following: a review of policies and legislation and their implementation; service delivery; the impact of poverty on wellbeing; health care, education and employment; knowledge, attitudes and practices; and social integration. Findings suggested that while all four countries in the study have the necessary policies and legislation in place to protect the rights of children with disabilities, these are rarely implemented effectively. One reason for this is that monitoring bodies lack the capacity and technical expertise to fulfil their roles.

Another part of the difficulty lies in the lack of reliable data on children with disabilities. Differing definitions of disability, combined with ineffective data collection,  mean that statistics – where available – are seldom reliable. The problem is compounded by fear of stigmatisation, evidenced by the low birth registration of children with disabilities. 

Poverty remains a major problem in safeguarding the wellbeing of children with disabilities: up to 88% of caregivers are unable to meet the basic needs of their children with disabilities. The most burdensome financial costs were connected with medical care and rehabilitation, assistive devices, and transportation. Despite the availability of free healthcare for the destitute, in some countries the cost and effort involved in negotiating administrative hurdles and paying for transport prevents many from taking advantage of it. However, community-based rehabilitation and other programmes have been effective in increasing access to education and assistive devices. Despite their material poverty and lack of financial support from outside sources, children themselves remain hopeful about their futures, their equal participation in society, and their ability to live full and independent lives.

Language: English
Published by: African Child Policy Forum (ACPF)
Author: African Child Policy Forum (ACPF)
Located in: Publications

An independent, not-for-profit, Pan-African
Institute of policy research and dialogue on the African child.

Founded 2003
Founder Assefa Bequele, PhD

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