By Kabuye Ronald
The Together for Inclusion (TOFI) consortium which has membership of Norwegian Association of Disabled (NAD), Save the Children (SC), Stromme Foundation East Africa (SFEA), National Union of Disabled Persons in Uganda (NUDIPU), Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus Association Uganda (SHAU), Inclusion Uganda (IU) on Wednesday morning released its Baseline Study focused on three thematic areas: Human Rights Advocacy, Inclusive Education, and Economic Empowerment in regards to persons with disabilities.
The TOFI baseline study which was implemented from January to July 2021, aims to measure changes as a result of implementation, to use data to inform targets and identify core gaps and constraints amongst the project stakeholders.
On the thematic area of Human Rights Advocacy there is an improved ability of persons with disabilities to claim their rights at the individual, organisational and governmental level. The survey found that people without disabilities reported greater overall ability in decision-making compared to persons with disabilities. Regardless of disability, the study also found that men get to make more decisions about their lives at 39% compared to women at 34%.
The study also looked at the percentage of persons with disabilities who feel valued as individuals by members of their community compared to persons without disabilities. Overall, less than 8% of all respondents reported feeling valued as individuals in their community, and only 1.5% of women with disabilities feel valued by their communities, by far the lowest proportion of respondents.
On the second thematic area of Education, The study aimed to establish the total number of children with disabilities enrolled in the 57 target schools of the TOFI programme. However, it found that less than half of the schools (28 of 57) register student enrolment by disability status. Of the 28 schools that officially document disability status of their enrolled students, only 22 disaggregate by type of disability. area (Inclusive Education) impact is the improved access to quality inclusive pre-primary, primary and secondary education for girls and boys with disabilities. To achieve this, the TOFI Inclusive Education programme supports three outcomes. The first outcome aims at empowering women, men, girls and boys with disabilities through the increased participation of girls and boys with disabilities in pre-primary, primary and secondary education. The second outcome, aimed at building stronger DPOs, is the increased capacity of DPOs to improve inclusivity of the education system for children with disabilities. The third outcome, aimed at supporting national and local governments and other stakeholders to be accountable, is the improved inclusivity of the education system for children with disabilities.
On the third thematic area of Economic Empowerment impact is the enhanced economic empowerment of persons with disabilities and their parents / caregivers. Under the Economic Empowerment programme, three outcomes have been aligned with TOFI’s three-track approach: the first outcome aims at the improved ability of persons with disabilities and their parents / caregivers to earn money and manage resources. The second outcome aims at building stronger DPOs through increasing the ability of DPOs to improve economic opportunities for persons with disabilities and their parents and caregivers. The third outcome aims at improving the inclusivity of economic empowerment services, employers and programs.
The survey established that the poverty1 probability amongst respondents was 35%, with people with disabilities accounting for higher scores (43%) compared to persons without disabilities (28%). Of all respondents, women with disabilities had the highest poverty probability of 44%.
Self-employment was the most common type of employment for people with and without disabilities (30%). However, 28% of people with disabilities reported that they are not working and not looking for paid work. This statement only applied to 13% of respondents without disabilities. Women with disabilities were most likely to not be working or looking for paid work (31%, compared to 24% of men with disabilities). Overall, 10 % of respondents reported to not be working, but looking for paid work.
The focus group discussions informed that employment opportunities were mainly gained through personal connections, training in a trade supported by parents, diligent and ongoing job hunting, and scholarships.
However, the qualitative research found that decision-making around household finances and assets seems to be influenced more by traditional and cultural and gender roles rather than disability status. At household level, the men were more involved in financial decisions related to large purchases/money.
More than half (54%) of respondents without disabilities were aware how to access formal and informal financial services, compared to only 38% of respondents with disabilities. Generally, women had lower levels of knowledge about access compared to men, and women with disabilities had the lowest level of knowledge (36%).
In terms of social security, the study found that less than 7% of respondents reported receiving any social assistance. This was slightly higher for people with disabilities (8%) compared to those without disabilities (6%). People’s knowledge of how to get social protection was also found to be low; only 10% of people with disabilities and 13% of people without disabilities knew about social protection services available to them.
More than two-thirds of respondents without disabilities reported having a bank account, while only one in five respondents with disabilities report the same. Women with disabilities were 50% less likely to have an account at a financial service compared to women without disabilities. When asked what financial service providers they use, respondents mentioned all together 33 different service providers, with Centenary Bank as the most commonly used. It was found that persons with disabilities had 17 choices of financial services while those without disabilities had 28, indicating that persons with disabilities are more limited in their choice of service providers.
There is a much bigger uptake of Mobile Money compared to traditional financial services, with 73% of respondents using Mobile Money compared to 27% using traditional financial services. There is also a big gap related to disability when it comes to the use of Mobile Money, only 60% of persons with disabilities use mobile financial services compared to 87% of persons without disabilities.
There is also a big gender gap. Women, regardless of disability status were less likely to report using mobile banking services, compared to men. Women with disabilities are considerably less likely to report using mobile banking services (54%), compared to men with disabilities (65%).
The study had a mixed methods approach of quantitative and qualitative data collection. There were four core components of data collection that included; Community Survey (788 respondents, 396M/393F, 406 had a disability), Community Focus Group Discussion (FGD) (four groups, 29 respondents, 11M/18F,adults with disabilities), Inclusive Education Assessment (including a FGD with learners with disabilities) (57 schools, 54 FGDs with 164 respondents, 81M/ 83F, children with disabilities) and Organizational Capacity Assessment (13 Disabled Persons Organisations (DPOs).
Ruth Nalujja, the national coordinator for Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus Association Uganda (SHAU) said their motive for carrying out the study is to make relevant interventions that address the really pressing challenges on ground faced by people with disabilities.
Flavia Nakabuye Bwire, an official from the Association of Microfinance Institution of Uganda urged finance institutions especially banks to establish financial programs that favor persons with disabilities in addition to sensitizing and skilling them with mobile banking.
She added that as TOFI they are aiming at economic empowerment of persons with disabilities and inclusion in all services.