Addressing Disability in Africa: New regional forum and new publications

The value of networking and joint work on the regional level is familiar to many Diversity stakeholders in Europe or the Americas, particularly in the area of disability, where a lot of specialised groups exist. The first General Assembly of the African Disability Form (ADF) marks an important step in the representation of people with a disability. At the same time, two new reports present current insight into disability in Africa.

Until one year ago, Africa was the last continent lacking a representative regional umbrella body of organisations of persons with disabilities. Now, the newly created African Disability Forum (ADF) held their first General Assembly meeting, 31 Oct – 1 Nov 2015 at the Desmond Tutu Conference Center in Nairobi, Kenya. It hosted delegates from 30 organisations of persons with disabilities (DPOs) from across Africa. In November 2014, the ADF was founded and became the pan-African membership organisation of DPOs at continental, sub-regional and national levels to unify and amplify the voice of persons with disabilities in Africa and strengthen the technical capacity of their member organisations.

ADF’s first General Assembly meeting received significant prominent support, including messages delivered by Judy Heumann, Special Advisor on International Disability Rights, U.S. Department of State, Mukhtar Alshibani, President, of the Global Alliance on Accessible Technologies and Environments (GAATES) Foundation and Jeannette Kah Le Guil, Representative of the Consortium of African Diasporas in the United States for the Social and Economic Inclusion of People with Disabilities (CADUS).

As a democratic, representative, regional forum the ADF adopted a Constitution and Bylaws and nine members of the first ADF Executive Council were elected. ADF has received member applications from 46 DPOs. The new Forum aims at advocating for the rights and inclusion of people with a disability by pursuing activities like:

  • Disability research and information dissemination
  • Monitoring national implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
  • Promoting the implementation of the African Union’s Continental Plan of Action on disability for the extended African Decade (2009-2019)
  • Strengthening the participation of youth with disabilities in national and regional structures and programmes
  • Facilitating participation of children with disabilities in national Children’s parliaments and other similar structures
  • Facilitating participation of women with disabilities in the development of the post-2015 Sustainable Development Agendas
  • Promoting the inclusion of persons with disabilities in mainstream development agencies.

Around the same time, in November 2015, the Resource Center Applied Research and Disability has published two new literature reviews as part of its project “Applied Research on Disability in Africa”, the East Africa report, and the Maghreb and West Africa report.

For East Africa, the researchers had to select from the 175 articles catalogued in the literature review. 17 were chosen as being particularly relevant, or having immediate potential for practical application. They all fulfil the following criteria: Practical application at grassroots level, produced by or for disabled person’s organisations and CBR groups, upholding the rights of persons with disabilities, can be applied to improve policies and legislation.

For the Magreb and West Africa, the researchers produced a summary based on 11 documents from different countries (Benin, Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger, Togo, the Ivory Coast, Libya, Mali, Algeria, Morocco, and Senegal).

The reports can be accessed on this website: