We are Able! mentioned as showcase for inclusive development initiatives by Dutch minister

HomeWe are Able! mentioned as showcase for inclusive development initiatives by Dutch minister

During the annual debate on the budget for Development Cooperation within the House of Representatives in the Netherlands, the minister of Foreign Trade and Development explicitly mentioned the We are Able! programme. In this debate, which took place in January 2024, minister van Leeuwen was questioned by several parliamentarians on if and how the Dutch ministry takes efforts to further increase the inclusion of persons with disabilities in its development endeavors.

The minister responded by mentioning the We are Able! programme as one of the ways in which the ministry focuses on the inclusion of persons with disabilities, in this case specifically for food security. Van Leeuwen said about WaA!: “in the programme, persons with disabilities are actively involved, so that their interests are taken into account in policies on food security at regional and national levels.” Of course, we are excited about the minister mentioning our programme, since it gives recognition for our collective efforts, as well as our collaboration with the Dutch government.

Something to be proud of or something that raises questions?

Such references should not make us rest on our laurels, however. It also raises a concern. As the We are Able! programme, we aim to make food security programmes more inclusive to persons with disabilities. This applies to the African countries where we work, but also to the Netherlands. Thus, our programme should not be “the answer” to questions around inclusive food security, thereby brushing it aside. Our programme merely intends to present a guidebook for making all development programmes more inclusive for persons with disabilities.

In our lobbying efforts on inclusion of persons with disabilities in Dutch development we often encounter this: We are Able! is steadily mentioned as the prime example of the Dutch efforts around inclusive food security. Even though such references are encouraging, they should not be the end of the conversation. Instead, the impact made should act as the starting point for further discussion about how the ministry is dealing with food security efforts on a broader scale. To pose the follow-up question: how does the Netherlands include persons with disabilities in food security programmes in development, apart from the We are Able! programme? Food for thought!

Photo source: Het aftasten is begonnen – Vice Versa (viceversaonline.nl)

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