At least twenty-four (24) disabled people organizations (DPOs) and five (5) government line ministries have signed a joint resolution seeking the inclusion of persons living with disabilities in the country’s governance process.
“We, members and officials from 24 disabled people organizations (DPOs); the Alliance for Disabilities; 5 government line ministries (Public Works, Education, Gender, Justice and Health); and other institutions concerned with the rights and welfare of persons living with disabilities (PWDs) realizing the need for concerted national efforts to promote the welfare of PWDs throughout the length and breadth of Liberia in line with the Liberian Constitution, the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities which Liberia signed and ratified in 2012 and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs),” the DPOs stated in the joint resolution.
The group also adopted a five-year National Action Plan for the Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities as a National Document to promote the welfare and rights of persons with disabilities throughout Liberia.
The signing of the joint resolution and the adoption of the National Action Plan (NAP) followed a two-day national validation meeting held in Monrovia. The meeting was organized by the National Commission on Disabilities with support from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
"We are calling on the national government to include us in their work plans for the country. We might be disabled, but we have our own skills that we can contribute for the development of our country," said Rev. Fallah Boima, National Vice Chair of the National Commission on Disabilities (NCD).
Rev. Boima lauded UNDP for supporting processes that led to the development and subsequent adoption of the NAP that seeks to include people with disabilities in the national workforce and planning processes.
“We believe that the National Action Plan for the Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities in Liberia is a right step in the right direction and, it shall be augmented and revised as the need arises in the future…. We believe that there is nothing about us without us,” he said.
The NAP requires that “all laws or sections of laws discriminating against persons with disabilities be abolished; that the teaching of sign language be made a required course in all Liberian schools from elementary to college levels and that social security and welfare be provided as financial assistance to persons with disabilities among others.
In remarks, the acting Team Leader of UNDP’s Governance and Public Institution (GPIs) pillar, James Monibah, pledged UNDP’s support to the promotion of the agenda of people with disabilities across Liberia.
"With the National Action Plan to implement the UN convention on the rights of persons with disabilities, the Government of Liberia is setting a process in motion which will exert a major influence throughout the next five years, not only on the lives of persons with disabilities, but on all citizens of Liberia," Mr. Monibah stated.
He encouraged the NCD to ensure the mobilization of resources for the full implementation of the five years NAP document.
“UNDP can’t do this alone. You need to take ownership of it as a government and lobby with other partners and donors to provide support for its implementation. If we don’t do so, this will be yet, another document to stay on the shelf…”Monbah said.
The NAP also calls for the transformation of the Division of Special and Inclusive Education at the Ministry of Education into a bureau with an Assistant Minister and three directors in line with Section 6 of the National Commission on Disabilities (NCD) Act of 2005.
The plan recognizes that disability is an issue impacting all aspects of the Liberian society, and the Government of Liberia values all its citizens, and should be committed to promoting inclusion of persons with disabilities in public service and private enterprise.