By Tobias Lengnan Dapam
Save the Children International (SCI) Nigeria has urged stakeholders at all levels, including federal, state, and local governments, to create conducive and inclusive environment for children with disabilities ahead of the pivotal global disability summit taking place from 16-17 February 2022.
According to the UNFPA (2021) World Population Dashboard as well as the WHO/World Bank (2011) world report on disability, Nigeria is home to an estimated 32 million people with disabilities, most of whom are children.
The reports said the children face different types of discrimination and have limited access to basic social services like health and education facilities.
The current status quo reveals that an estimated 95.5% of children with disabilities in Nigeria are out of school and have low knowledge of sexual and reproductive health (SRH) issues, including HIV/AIDS due to inaccessible SRH/HIV communication-information tools.
Mercy Gichuhi, Country Director, Save the Children International Nigeria, said: “Children, girls and women with disabilities are the most affected and disadvantaged in times of disaster, armed conflict, or humanitarian crisis. They are often neglected part of communities during recovery and response programs. However, community development would be incomplete and the rights of children would be denied if it doesn’t include and address the rights and special needs of people with disabilities. Therefore, I would like to call upon development actors, donors, the private sector, states, and governments to deliberately take into account disability inclusion and rights in humanitarian and development planning, financing, and implementation.”
Save the Children International called upon the government to design programs in health, education and livelihoods that are more inclusive and conducive in a bid to curb the discrimination faced by children with disabilities, especially the girl child.
Aisha Mustapha (13), Member, Borno State Children Parliament, representing children with disabilities,
said: “[on behalf of the Borno state children with disabilities] I would like to ask everyone to do more towards empowering persons with disabilities. We need better education, job opportunities and special consideration in development program design and implementation. Visually impaired children like myself can learn if we have access to free, safe, inclusive, uninterrupted and quality education facilities. ‘Disability is not inability.’ We just need opportunities to grow, realize and release our potentials and contribute our fair share for the good of our country.”
Toyin Aderemi, Senior Advisor, Disability Inclusion, Save the Children West and Central Africa Region, said, “we at Save the Children recognize the rights of girls and boys with disabilities and their caregivers as we pledge 12 new commitments to the Global Disability Summit to ensure their full inclusion in our works; and we implore our governments and partners to also seize this opportunity to commit afresh to the inclusion of girls and boys with disabilities in all spheres of life in Nigeria.’’
As key stakeholders meet at the Global Disabilities Summit to review the policy and financial commitments made during the last session and to chart a way forward for equality, meaningful engagement of people with disability, and building back better, these recommendations with critical action by Save the Children Nigeria can further improve collective efforts to ensure children with disabilities are not left behind as we strive to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).