To give shape to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), the We Are Able! Programme prioritizes the development of a Local Inclusion Agenda as a crucial cross- cutting tool to ensure disability inclusion at local level.
The Local Inclusion Agenda, largely undertaken to guide multi-stakeholder collaboration brings together representatives of local governments, organizations of persons with a disability and civil society organizations, so as to define actions to improve access for persons with disabilities to local services and opportunities for economic participation. While the concept might sound very theoretical and is rather unfamiliar in the daily engagements of disability stakeholders and local government leaders in Uganda, it is a proper understanding of the components that feed into the agenda which are of crucial significance for achieving local inclusion.
The various activities implemented by the consortium partners create a strong need to develop one collective agenda. The capacity development initiatives through Training of Trainers by the Hague Academy, the Model farmers by ZOA, the support of the Disability Inclusion Facilitators by Light for the World, the formation and support of the Local Government Disability Unions by NUDIPO, capacity development undertakings for organizations of Persons with Disabilities, and the awareness sessions and engagements with local government leaders conducted by VNG International all define different aspects of stakeholder engagements and collaboration. The three-day workshop for stakeholders and partners facilitated by VNG International provided a platform for participants to identify and examine their roles and responsibilities in adapting disability inclusion within their different engagements.
It was out of these discussions that the framework for the Local Inclusion Agenda was developed. The framework focused on the priority actions to be undertaken by all stakeholders to drive their inclusion agenda within their settings and institutions. It also clearly illustrated the linkage to the parity indicators, the roles of each partner and stakeholder in achieving these, the synergies to build on, periodic review schedules and resource requirements. Using the frameworks adapted, each of the local governments was able to adapt Local Inclusion Agenda specific to their localities. The possibilities that were demonstrated through the above engagement was a significant milestone for all participants and greatly impacted on their perception of building collaborations towards achieving disability inclusion across all sectors within each local government.
Among the local government actors, contrary to the previous belief that issues affecting persons with disability were a preserve of the community-based services department only, all other sectors such as health, education, environmental services, water and sanitation, production, works and infrastructure embraced their role in prioritizing disability inclusion within their engagements. At the end of the engagements, there was a consensus that all local governments integrate their priority disability issues into a Local Agenda, that will be aligned to the planning, budgeting, implementation, monitoring and reporting frameworks for the financial year 2023/24.
“…. I am so impressed with this high-level workshop that has empowered our political and technical leaders to understand and prioritize disability inclusion in Local Government service delivery. The stakeholders now know what needs to be done to achieve inclusion. I want to extend my appreciation to VNG International for this important workshop in our district. Once the LIA plan is complete, it should be shared with all stakeholders for implementation as the actions and roles cut across the functions of all stakeholders. I am also making a commitment that for this document to be owned by the district leadership, it has to be tabled, debated, and passed in the district council so that it can become an official working document for implementing disability inclusion in the district. This way all sectors and LG partners will have an obligation to implement the plan…” Rt. Hon. Kasim Asiku, Speaker Yumbe District LG Council during the district workshop to develop LIA
Within a week after the engagements and the follow up called by Honourable Asiku, Terego District Council in West Nile laid the just developed Local Inclusion Agenda in the council for approval. Through this, all sectors and partners are obliged to cooperate and pick issues for integration into planning, budgeting and implementation frameworks from the Local Inclusion Agenda.
The workshop coincided with a visit of Mr Pieter Jeroense, Director of VNG International to the region. Mr Jeroense was very impressed by the personal stories shared by Mr. Angutoko Paulino Jacinto, the chairperson Arua City union of persons with disabilities and Mr. Ocitti Anying Godfrey Odoki- the district commercial officer, Nwoya District local government about the significance of this programme for the well- being of people with a disability and the society as a whole.
 Disability parity indicators are a representation of the ratio of persons with disabilities against other categories of persons consuming the same services within the same or similar service units. for instance, the number of PWDs employed within a LG service commission would be 5% of the total public servants in that LG.