Namaste and greetings to All the member organizations, organizations working for the rights of persons with disabilities, Nepal Government, national and international partner organizations, media, all persons with disabilities, family members and all stakeholders.
The present federal committee has been elected from the general assembly of NFDN held in Biratnagar dated April 8th and 9th, 2019 for the three years tenure which completed its one year of the period on the last 8th April 2020. On this occasion, I am delighted to share some important progress and achievements with you all.
In the history of NFDN, each elected committee has added new important bricks of achievements to the Nepalese disability rights movement and also given continuity to the initiations and achievements of the previous committee to make them more sustainable and stronger. As a result of all such initiations, we are observing the current disability rights movement in Nepal.
Within this one year period, following the same organizational legacy, the present committee in my leadership has also given the continuity to the initiations and achievements contributed by the previous committee and tried to add new bricks of achievements for the rights of persons with disabilities. So, in this special time of one-year completion, I would like to share some of the important achievements and initiations that NFDN has contributed to the Nepalese disability rights movement.
- As the results of initiation taken by NFDN with government and regular advocacy, the government has started to form the National Direction Committee which is essential for the implementation of the Act on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (ARPD) 2017. We hope the formation will be completed very soon.
- As a result of our advocacy the Ministry of Education has amended its teachers related guidelines and added one provision for the teachers with disabilities having “C” category disability ID card during their permanent appointment. According to the new provisions the teacher with disabilities can choose schools for their appointment on the basis of their accessibility condition.
- As the country entered into the federal structure all the local municipalities have been facing big confusion on the distribution of disability ID card to persons with disabilities residing within their boundary. In the coordination with the ministry of women children and a senior Citizen we facilitated 70 municipalities on the issues of disability ID card.
- As the result of our advocacy and lobby, in the new national education policy issued in 2020, the government has ensured some very important provisions such as compulsory and free education, accessible school’s infrastructures, inclusive and accessible teaching, and learning process, flexible evaluation and examination methods for children/persons with disabilities.
- The previous committee carried out lots of advocacy with the government to bring a comprehensive National Policy and Action Plan on Disability and also supported the government technically to develop the draft of a policy. However, the policy was not passed within the expected time due to the delay in the process of government and other external political reasons. Within this period, we continued our advocacy and lobby work for the same. Now the government has formed a task force including NFDN to revise the draft and expedite the approval process.
- In this period NFDN has continued its partnership with its regular partners DPOD-Denmark, NLR, FFO-Norway, CBM, MyRight, Ministry of Women Children and Senior Citizen and added a new partnership with Handicap International, Christian Aid and UNDP. Similarly, NFDN is going to develop two new partnerships with The Leprosy Mission to Nepal and Light for the World for the project related to the livelihood and employment of persons with disabilities which is in the final stage. The new projects are focused on the new agendas (for NFDN) such as CRPD monitoring, access to justice, accessibility and livelihood.
- Based on the strategy to expand the works of NFDN in provinces and local level we have increased our project activities in provinces through the partnership with Handicap International and CBM this year. Most of the activities of the project to be implemented in the partnership with FFO and DPOD (that is in the process of development) in the future are also focused on provinces and local levels.
- During this period, through the activities of various projects, we worked to build the capacity of our province structure and improve their management capacity. As a results they have accelerated their advocacy work and increased capacity to support member organizations. Allocation of budget on disability issues by provinces government and increased recognition of NFDN province structure as the key representatives on behalf of disability community is one of the examples.
- The previous committee started advocacy with the government to bring separate disability rights bylaws which a essential for the effective implementation of Act on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities – 2017. NFDN also provided technical support to draft the bylaws. But due to the delay of the government process the bylaws are yet to be approved from the council of ministries. We are pouring our maximum effort to bring these bylaws as soon as possible.
- The government is in the process to amend the federal civil service act. NFDN is in regular dialogues with the Ministry of Federal Affairs and General Administration, parliamentarians and political leaders to ensure at least 5% quota on reservation for persons with disabilities in the Act. The government seems to be positive in the proposal of NFDN.
- The government is going to carry out the National census in 2021. NFDN is trying its best to influence the government agencies, particularly the National Planning Commission, Ministry of Women Children and Senior Citizen and Central Bureau of Statistics to adopt Washington Group Questionnaires for the data collection of persons with disabilities during the census. National Planning Commission and Ministry of Women Children and Senior Citizen is positive on the issues however we have to work more with the Central Bureau of Statistics.
- Addressing the demand of persons with disabilities the government issued the National guidelines and standards to ensure accessibility in the physical infrastructure, transportation and communication service in 2013. To make this document mandatory for all agencies and ensure its effective implementation NFDN carried out various advocacy work with the Ministry of Women Children and Senior Citizen, Council of Ministries and Ministry of Urban Development to revise the guidelines and standards to make it more comprehensive and detail in an architecture point of view. Now the Ministry of Urban Development has formed a technical committee to revise the guidelines which also ensures the representation of NFDN.
- The world has severely suffered by the infection of COVID-19 for the last few months and in this situation information, communication and protection are most important. NFDN is working with various stakeholders, INGOs, NFDN’s regular partners and Ministry of Health and Population, Ministry of Women Children and Senior Citizen and Ministry of Home Affairs particularly to make the information, communication and awareness materials accessible for all and make all COVID-19 response program inclusive from the perspective of disability. As a result, the daily briefing of the Ministry of Health and Population about the Corona virus has added sign language interpreters to ensure the access of persons with hearing impairment. NFDN has itself produced various awareness materials with in the accessible format.
- Beside, all these, NFDN has taken the initiation, to improve in the inclusion, transparency, accountability, management capacity and effectiveness of program implementation on its organization level. Surely we will see the results in the days to come.
All these success, achievements and milestones that we have achieved so far is not only because of the efforts of NFDN’s structures. Rather there are lots of support, cooperation, criticism, encouragement and contribution of partner organizations, Nepal Government, NFDN’s member organizations, other many organizations working on disability rights, service providers, disability rights experts, media, and persons with disabilities behind all these successes and achievements. So, I would like to thank you all and express my gratitude for your all such wonderful support and cooperation. Since there are lots works that we have to complete and achieve for the rights of persons with disabilities we expect the more sustainable and stronger support and cooperation in the days to come.
Thank you !
Mitra Lal Sharma
National Federation of the Disabled Nepal