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Advocates call for gov’t agency to help people with disabilities

Difficulty finding jobs, accessing education among issues

People living with physical disabilities are asking the government to establish a state run institution to allocate a budget to work on improving their lives.
Currently non-governmental associations, federations and groups help people with disabilities but no government body has been established to work on this.
The Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs (MoLSA) is the main federal agency responsible for providing social and vocational rehabilitation for people with disabilities.
Getu Teshome, CEO for the Network of Organizations for the Visually Impaired and the Blind (NOVIP) told Capital that because there is not a state run institution people with disabilities have a very hard time getting work, accessing education, keeping informed and are often exploited at work or victims of sexual assault.
“The government is responsible for managing problems its citizens face, if you go to Kenya and Uganda there are councils and institutions that handle disability issues. Here the issues are handled by non-governmental associations which need to find funding to survive. We cannot continue like this in order to make a significant difference in the lives of people with disabilities we need a government institution.
“Things like job creation, illegal migration, access to healthcare and other issues are not being addressed for persons with disabilities,” he added.
Ethiopia is one of the countries which endorsed in the parliament ‘The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities’ which outlines the civil, cultural, political, social and economic rights of people with disabilities. Member States which have signed the Convention agree to promote, protect and ensure the full and equal enjoyment of the human rights and fundamental freedoms of people with disabilities and prompt respect for their inherent dignity.
Based on the World Report on Disability jointly issued by the World Bank and World Health Organization, there are an estimated 15million children, adults and elderly persons with disabilities in Ethiopia, representing17.6 per cent of the population. A vast majority of people with disabilities live in rural areas where access to basic services is limited. In Ethiopia, 95 per cent of all persons with disabilities are estimated to live in poverty. Many depend on family support and begging for their livelihoods. A study in Oromia region, for instance, found that 55 per cent of the surveyed persons with disabilities depend on family, neighbors and friends for their living, while the rest generate meager income through self-employment, begging and providing house maid services.
Currently people with disabilities have formed six national associations under the umbrella of a Federation: Federation of Ethiopian National Associations of People with Disabilities (FENAPD),Ethiopian National Association of the Blind, Ethiopian National Association of the Physically Handicapped, Ethiopian National Association of the Deaf, Ethiopian National Association of the Blind-Deaf, Ethiopian National Association of Persons Affected by Leprosy, Ethiopian National Association on Intellectual Disability.

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