WINDHOEK, 30 MAY – People living with disabilities should be given the opportunity to contribute to Namibia’s development, acting United Nations (UN) Resident Coordinator, Rachel Odede has said.
Speaking at the National Disabilities Shareholders workshop here on Tuesday, Odede said issues that lead to them being excluded should be addressed.
The three-day workshop started Tuesday and is taking place under the theme ‘Understanding the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities: Strategies for effective disability mainstreaming in Namibia’.
The convention is an international human rights treaty of the United Nations intended to protect the rights and dignity of persons with disabilities.
Odede said although people living with disabilities make up five per cent of the Namibian population, the unemployment rate in this group stands at 39 per cent.
“This is compared to the national unemployment rate of 28 per cent,” she added.
Odede said people living with disabilities face challenges such as limited education, unemployment, lack of infrastructure, transportation and inadequate health care, among other things.
She said the UN in Namibia is committed to supporting Namibia in addressing the barriers experienced by persons with disabilities across society.
Approached for comment on Wednesday, president of the Namibia Wheelchair Association Ebernhard Ripunda concurred with Odede.
He said another challenge for people with disabilities is that the Namibian Traffic Information System does not have a manual to test people living with disabilities so they can obtain their driver’s licences.
“We are dealing with people with different kinds of disabilities, hence there are a lot of complications surrounding this problem. Vehicles also need to be modified according to their conditions,” he said.
The workshop has brought together about 100 stakeholders, partners and persons with disabilities to share knowledge on service delivery and sustainability for persons with disability between the government and civil society working in their interests.