Persons living with disabilities in Karonga say they feel like second class citizens as they are still marginalised in communities and sidelined in development activities.
The remarks were made recently at Hangarawa and Iponga in the area of traditional authorities Wasambo and Mwakaboko respectively where Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP) under the Karonga Diocese held orientations with Persons with disabilities and community leaders on issues of human rights and disability related laws and policies among others.
Speaking in an interview, one of the participants to the orientation Lindsey Chagala said it is unfortunate that despite Malawi having formulated a lot of laws and policies with the aim of boosting the involvement of persons with disabilities in developmental activities, the situation on the ground remains unchanged.
“As a person living with disabilities I’m really concerned with our continued side-lining by our local leaders in developmental activities as a result of this we are unable to participate positively to the growth of our communities hence we feel like second class citizens,” she lamented.
Concurring with Chagala, Chafika Kondowe who is also the chairperson of Association of Persons with Albinism in Malawi (APAM) for Chilumba chapter, said persons with disabilities continue to be marginalized in communities hence hailed the orientation for enlightening them with disability related laws.
“We have been in the dark for so long as we did not have the knowledge about where we were supposed to go to in case of violations therefore the training has come at an opportune time as we are now better informed of our rights and responcibilities,” he articulated.
However, CCJP Project Coordinator Obert Mkandawire, said despite Karonga having taken steps forward in improving inclusion in local governance structures, a lack of sensitization in the part of those responsible for local service provisions remains a huge challenge.
He added that that due to a lack of knowledge in disability laws, persons with disabilities were not aware of the institutional frameworks that protect them from violations thus being side-lined in developmental activities.
“As a district strides are being made to improve representation in decentralized structures for persons with disabilities but what is lacking is sensitization in the part of local authorities who are not doing much in terms of making sure that their representation is being felt,” explained Mkandawire.
With financial support from Norwegian Church Aid CCJP has implemented the 5 year Enhancing Social Accountability in Local Governance to Reduce Inequality for an Inclusive Malawi Project in TA Wasambo and TA Mwakaboko in the district.