- April 20, 2021

International Disability Alliance (IDA) is working with the development sector to support the meaningful inclusion of organizations of persons with disabilities (OPDs) in disability-inclusive programmes.

Today, on World Creativity and Innovation Day, we want to share how our OPD Engagement Officers are providing a structured and formalized way of ensuring that engagement.

The roles have been created as part of our work as one of the partners on the Inclusion Works (IW) programme under the Inclusive Futures umbrella. The OPD coordination mechanism is led by our member African Disability Forum (ADF) in three of the four IW countries. The OPD Engagement Officers are hosted by ADF’s national members in Kenya, Nigeria and Uganda.

The mantra of the disability movement is ‘nothing about us without us’ and for this to be fully realized in development, persons with disabilities and their representative organisations must have their rightful space within the development, right from the design stages, through to implementation, monitoring and evaluation of projects.

IDA’s innovative approach of not only envisioning this role in the Inclusive Futures formal employment project, Inclusion Works, is a novel approach that can be a model for development partners working in disability-inclusive development.

OPD engagement in this programme is a mechanism of interrelated processes. These included an open process of OPDs to be part of the project; the selection of OPD engagement officers and further the formation of National Project Advisory Committees that are inclusive of leaders within the disability movement who offer advisory and technical support to the OPD engagement mechanism. IDA and ADF’s priority has been to support greater ownership of these processes by the national disability movement in the programme countries. Therefore, the OPD engagement mechanism seeks to ensure that there are more OPDs joining a programme not only at the consultation level, but throughout the project cycle. The OPD Engagement Officer roles are crucial in supporting such a mechanism. This is a process/experience that is being documented and shall be shared as it is key for all development partners working in disability-inclusive development.

The OPD engagement mechanism is also very critical in supporting meaningful engagement that is inclusive of groups of persons with disabilities who are often underrepresented and tend to be left out of disability-inclusive development, as well as ensuring overall adherence to the foundations and principles set by the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.    

In Inclusion Works, the OPD engagement mechanism is working with four OPD Engagement Officers in the four IW countries. They have this to say about their key roles on World Creativity and Innovation Day:

Elizabeth Ombati OPD EO, Kenya: Supporting the engagement of underrepresented groups of persons with disabilities in Inclusion Works is a key part of my role. People who are deafblind, those with psychosocial disabilities and those with intellectual disabilities are often missing from disability-inclusive development. Projects must continually find innovative ways to ensure these groups are involved.

Rejaul Karim Siddiquee OPD EO, Bangladesh: One main emphasis for me has been to advocate for both economic and legal empowerment of OPDs as a measure to actualize OPD engagement. When OPDs are supported in strengthening their organizational capacities, financial management, knowledge management through direct funding and adequate resource including skilled staff members, it becomes one gateway to meaningful OPD engagement.

ujahdeen [at] (Sulayman Abdulmumuni Ujah) OPD EO, Nigeria: There has been a need to create awareness to address misconceptions about persons with disabilities. This has meant working together with OPDs to strengthen their capacities; also support grassroots campaigns to ensure the dignity and independence of persons with disabilities. 

Betty Najjemba OPD EO, Uganda: A key part of my role has been an emphasis on creating a safe and inclusive environment for OPDs and their members, where accessibility and reasonable accommodation are provided for a diversity of persons with disabilities involved in the programme to enable their meaningful participation.