Uncovering reasons why physically challenged resort to begging | Independent Newspapers Limited
Newsletter subscribe


Uncovering reasons why physically challenged resort to begging

Posted: Apr 7, 2015 at 4:28 pm   /   by   /   comments (0)

By Christian Emeka / Special Correspondent, Awka


A group of five NGOs has released the result of its recent research on why physically challenged people go into begging. The research result revealed that stigmatisations and marginalisation of people living with disabilities in Nigeria were on the increase, and that this signifies the major reason why they resort to begging of alms for livelihood.

The research reveals that majority of the disables in the country were unemployed, lacked access to education, even as their needs were often relegated or non-included in governance by their able bodied counterparts, who dominate all the economy and power.

The research was carried out by Care for the Physically Challenged and Destitute Foundation (CAPCADF), Awka, in collaboration with the Joint National Association of Persons with Disabilities (JONAPWD), Anambra chapter, and co-funded by the Justice Development and Peace Commission (JDPC), Onitsha; the Christian Aid (CA) Nigeria and Development for International Development (DFID) as part of her Voice to the People (V2P) Project Phase 11.

Entitled, ‘Setting a strategic space to meet the need of persons with disabilities’, the research was conducted across three council areas in Anambra State, including Anambra West, Idemili North and Orumba North last year, but its findings were recently presented at the local government and state levels.

The group made some unanimous recommendations, including calling on the Anambra State Government, the state House of Assembly and other relevant stakeholders to facilitate the passage of Disability Rights Bill into law, as that would help in addressing their myriads of needs of the physically challenged in the state.

The group as well recommended that efforts should be made to increase the access of the physically challenged to education, government at all levels should guarantee them participatory access in policy making, development, implementation and monitoring to better present their needs.

The group also advocated increase in government budget line items for them, stressing also that the state ministries of agriculture, health, and education should provide for their needs, while other interventions targeted at disables in the state ought to be designed to tackle the high percentage of unemployment.

While making a case for scholarship scheme to fend for the educationally disadvantaged among them, the research report urged the government to provide well equipped and functional skills acquisition centres to enable the physically challenged persons develop their talents for self sufficiency, because according to the report, majority of them are capable and ready to join force with their able bodied counterparts to transform the country through their God’s given talents and skills.

The group, however, pointed out that provisions of mobility aids, hearing aids for the hearing impaired (deaf and dumb), visual aids for the visually impaired (the blind), among others would empower them to feel belonged; it implored the relevant agencies and government to assist CAPCADF to carry out another comprehensive mapping out study in other 18 local government areas in the state.

The copies of the research reports and charter of demands of the physically challenged persons were last week, presented to the three piloted local government chairmen and their legislative chambers (councilors) at their respective council headquarters, as well as to the state government in Awka, under the title, ‘A Report on the situation of persons with disabilities in 3 pilot LGAs (Anambra West, Idemili-North and Orumba North)’, and ‘Charter of demand on persons with disabilities’.

Reacting to the research work, Anambra State Director, Joint National Association of Persons with Disabilities, Mr. Lawrence Nwanolue, emphasised the importance of passing the disability bill into law. He pointed out that the physically challenged are worst sufferers of the poor economic situation in the country despite the fact that they are bonafide citizens of the country and free to participate in all affairs of the society like any other person.

On his part, Mr. Uche Egbuluche of the Onitsha JDPC enjoined the government at all levels to rise up to its responsibility of catering for the needs of the less privileged and disabled in their societies, stressing that government was the most well positioned to champion the cause of the entire populace, especially the physically challenged persons.

Speaking after receiving the various works at the state level, the state Commissioner of Women Affairs and Social Development, Victoria Chikelu, and her counterpart in the Ministry of Economic Planning and Budgeting, Prof. Solomon Chukwulobelu, through their representatives, pledged to study the findings and pass them over to the Governor for prompt action.

In a similar vein, Francisca Nwanne, a councilor who represented legislative chamber of Idemili North Council Area, while receiving the reports, thanked the sponsors of the project for a work well done and promised to present it to her colleagues for consideration and passage.

Meanwhile, District Justice Ify Okoye (a physically challenged legal luminary) has inaugurated 12 engagement officers at the state level to effectively monitor the projects. Presenting the report earlier, founder of CAPCADF, Mrs. Gloria Nwafor, disclosed that a total of 1500 questionnaires were distributed to persons with disabilities in each of the 44 communities under the three selected local government areas, but 1244 were returned, out of which 704 representing 56.59 per cent were males, while 540 (43.41 per cent) were females.

Mrs. Nwafor, who pointed out that the basic tools her team of researchers used to gather data in the study was questionnaire designed to elicit information on the respondents’ sex, age, marital-status, type of impairment, level of education, type of employment and level of participation in governance, explained that 610 respondents representing 49.04 per cent of persons with impairment did not acquire any form of formal education, while 336 (27.01 per cent) possess primary education as their highest level of education, 33 respondents (2.65 per cent) had vocational education while those that attained post primary and tertiary institution education were 221 (17 per cent) and 44 (3.54 per cent).

The report which was made available to our reporter, says that 1019 respondents (81.91 per cent) were unemployed, 179 respondents (14.15 per cent) are self employed, 38 (3.05 per cent) work as public servant and 11 (0.88 per cent) work in private sector, thereby supporting the claims of the disable last two years the Anambra state civil service Commission recruited new officers without inclusion of at least 1% of their qualified members.

It further pointed out that 942 (75.72%) have not received any form of empowerment from either the government or private individuals, while only 152(12.22%) had received empowerment which include Desktop and laptop computers, shoemaking machines, sewing machines, oven, grinding machine, gas cooker, and others; but 136 (10.93 per cent) once received mobility aids, 12 (0.96 per cent) hearing aids, 2 (0.16 per cent) visual aids, meaning they needed more of such from both the state government and individuals.

On health care, the research report showed that none of the physically challenged persons (0 per cent) out of the 1244 respondents had ever benefited from free health services either from the government or individual in Anambra, even as 1010 (81.19 per cent) respondents affirmed that they were often excluded from participating in community meetings against 186 (14.95 per cent), who said they had involved in such.

Again, 36 (3.14 per cent) respondents said they have been participating in electoral meetings, while 9 (0.72 per cent) also partook in budget meetings.

Delving into the Anambra State 2015 fiscal year budget proposal, the research work uncovered that the sum of N430,200,000 was mapped out for the Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development (the ministry that caters for their needs) out of which N15, 872,541,000 was allocated to the social welfare unit representing 2.7 per cent of the entire social sector and a meger of 2.7 per cent of the entire total capital.

They hereby recommended that there should be an increase in allocation on the budget line of assisting device for persons with disability, as N10,000,000 is meagre compared to their number in Anambra State in cluster.