In March 2016 Ecumenical Disability Advocates Network (EDAN) organised an Eastern Africa Conference on Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities in Implementation and Monitoring of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The SDGs were formally adopted by the United Nations (UN) General Assembly in September 2015 paving way for the implementation of the new global development framework towards Agenda 2030. Having reached the transition from Millennium Development Goal’s(MDG’s) to SDG’s, EDAN convened the conference to among other things raise awareness and build the capacity of National Federations of persons with disabilities in the Eastern Africa Region to engage their government in the planning, implementing and monitoring of SDG’s.
The SDGs were developed through an inclusive process involving various stakeholders including Disabled People’s Organizations (DPOs) and succeed the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) which guided development between 2000 and 2015. Unlike in the MDGs, disability in this new framework is referenced five times specifically in parts related to education, growth and employment, inequality, accessibility of human settlements, as well as data collection and monitoring. This was only possible because of the participation, involvement and spirited advocacy campaign by persons with disabilities and their organisations during the process of coming up with SDG’s. There is need to sustain this campaign beyond having these mentions to ensure that this spirit is followed all through to Regional, National and local implementation processes.
In order to fully engage right from the beginning, EDAN has followed closely and with interest the process that brought about SDG’s. It has in this respect been part of the Africa Interfaith Post 2015 initiative as well as the Kenyan NGOs initiatives. It has also worked with the disability movement both at National and international levels in the campaign for the inclusion of the disability concerns in coming up with the new Development platform.
It is in this light that EDAN organised this conference in order to fully engage right from the beginning with the process of planning for the implementation and monitoring the SDG’s. The conference held at the Presbyterian Church of East Africa (PCEA) Milele Guest House Nairobi was part of Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities in Development Programmes (IPDDP) in East Africa (Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda) project which EDAN is implementing with the financial support of Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Mission (FELM). The goal of this project is to realize improved livelihoods of persons with disabilities by participating in development programs using the human rights based approach.
It brought together 78 participants representing national organisations of persons with Disabilities in nine countries in Eastern Africa sub-region, church, church development organisations and Non-Governmental Organizations development programme planners and implementers in the IPPDP project countries as well as other stakeholders in the SDG’s implementation process.
The main facilitator of the conference was Dr. Elizabeth Lockwood, International Disability and Development Consortium/ International Disability Alliance and CBM Representative at the United Nations in New York. The conference programme consisted of daily devotions, plenary sessions, panel and group discussions. The opening plenary session included welcome comments and remarks, the official opening speech and key note address.
The conference participants were familiarized with the contents of the SDGs, were able to understand their role as well as how and with what institutions they can partner with in ensuring inclusion of persons with disabilities in implementation and monitoring of the SDGs at national, regional and international levels. The main achievement of the conference was the development of 3 in-country action plans which national organisations of persons with disabilities in these countries will use to engage meaningfully with the implementation and monitoring of SDGs.
EDAN will continue to follow up on the implementation of these action plans as well as advocate for inclusion of persons with disabilities in the implementation of the new goals in all the regions where it works.