In the context of the economic empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (PWDs), the Rwandan government, with the support of the private sector and its partners in this field, has already taken some steps, but the most important remains to be done.
The Government Representative in Rwanda Disability Summit early this week, Harerimana Bernard who doubles as the Strategic Planning and Research Specialist in the National Development Planning and Research Department in the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning (MINECOFIN) has documented the Government’s achievements in support of persons with disabilities in the process of their empowerment by explaining in particular the overall policy on social protection.
Harerimana gave many examples of the government’s efforts in this direction for vulnerable groups, including the Vision 2020 Umurenge Program (VUP), which is an Integrated Local Development Program to Accelerate Poverty Eradication, Rural Growth, and Social Protection.
For his part, Dr. Mukabaramba, Minister of State for Social Affairs and Social Protection in Local Government Ministry, invited people with disabilities to embrace the government’s self-employment policy, announcing that 200,000,000 francs has been set aside as their starting capital.
On the other hand, DonatilleKanimba, Executive Director of the Rwanda Union of the Blind (RUB) noted that the empowerment of people with disabilities is still faces major challenges, according to her, even those who have acquired education facing a hard time getting hired.
“For someone who is blind, it is also very difficult to trade, especially with respect to income management,” she said.
Teddy Kaberuka, a veteran of the disability movement and a former Secretary General of the Rwandan Federation of People with Disabilities and the Eastern African Federation of People with Disabilities, said that we must be first reconsider what has already been done for empowerment of people with disabilities and so as to tackle what remains to be done.
According to him, the government should consider providing facilities to persons with disabilities in various development sectors, such as agriculture, education or trade, by providing them with accompanying measures.
“In order to help people with disabilities compete, the government should exempt them from paying taxes while recognizing that the equipment they use to achieve in their business in the same way as other citizens always requires additional costs,” said Kaberuka.
He gave the example of people with disabilities who move in wheelchairs for which they regularly have to buy tires or other spare parts, those who have prostheses or crutches they have to regularly replace etc.
Some recommendations have been formulated in order to successfully complete the process of empowering people with disabilities, particularly by integrating them into the labor market, by adapting infrastructures to their handicaps in public and private buildings, by integrating them into VUP program, and above all, by inviting the private sector to engage in the policy on Roads to Economic empowerment.
By Jean Louis KAGAHE
The Partner Magazine