24 Jun 2016

From the 9th until the 16th of June 2016, the International Disability and Development Consortium was present at the Joint Parliamentary Assembly in Windhoek (Namibia). This so called JPA brings together Parliamentarians of Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific (ACP) and members of the European Parliament.

During the 2016 ACP – EU JPA, IDDC organised two side events to raise awareness on the rights of persons with disabilities. On Saturday 11th of June a Round table discussion took place. Members of Parliament exchanged views with Namibian DPO representatives on the situation of persons with disabilities in Namibia and on the path towards an inclusive 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Member of the European Parliament Cecile Kyenge pointed out the importance of implementing commitments, thereby also referring to the Resolution on the Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities, adopted by the ACP – EU JPA in 2011. Daniel Trum, chair of the National Federation of Persons with Disabilities in Namibia, explained the situation of persons with disabilities in Namibia and the barriers they still face. Furthermore, he stressed that persons with disabilities have to be part of all development policies and implementation processes and that the ACP EU JPA provides an interesting opportunity to put pressure on ACP governments to include persons with disabilities in all policy processes, implementation and monitoring. During the discussion it became clear that lack of awareness is still a problem in many ACP and European countries and exchanging good practices between different countries and with civil society is essential. MEP Kyenge raised that the JPA brings together parliamentarians from ACP and EU and thus offers an interesting opportunity to organise such an exchange. As a result it was suggested to organise a workshop on the inclusion of persons with disabilities during each ACP EU JPA, to discussion a specific aspect of inclusion and identify action points. IDDC is very happy with this suggestion and will most certainly follow up in the run up to the next ACP EU JPA taking place in December 2016.

Sunday 12th of June, three motivated MEPs (MEP Cecile Kyenge, MEP Maria Heubuch and MEP Bodil Valero) joined IDDC for a visit to the Namibian Federation of the Visually Impaired (NFVI). The Federation, founded in 1986, is an umbrella organisation consisting of 5 regional associations and has 15000 members.  We were welcomed by Moses Nghipandulwa, Executive Director of the NFVI. He took the time to explain the work of the Federation. Key tasks of the NFVI are advocacy and awareness-raising activities and the provision of services to the members (rehabilitation, courses and trainings on braille, mobility and orientation, ICT, English, entrepreneurship). They offer two training courses per year (6 months) for blind students and offers accommodation.  After the explanation we received a brief tour around the facilities of the NFVI, including their extensive braille printing unit and the library.

It became very clear at this JPA that there is a genuine interest from parliaments from both EU and ACP to exchange good practices and promote the rights of persons with disabilities. IDDC will use this momentum and plans to organise similar exchanges at the next ACP – EU JPA in December 2016.