Disability assessment capacity building workshop for service providers held

The UNESCO Regional Office for Southern Africa supported the National Association of Societies for the Care of the Handicapped (NASCOH) in partnership with the Zimbabwe National Association for Mental Health (ZIMNAMH) to conduct a virtual workshop on disability assessment capacity building for service providers on 30 July 2021.

Held in the context of the European Union (EU) funded Spotlight Initiative, the workshop intended to build the capacity of service providers in the Spotlight Initiative districts. It brought together district representatives from the Ministry of Public Service, Labor and Social Welfare; Ministry of Women Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises Development; Ministry of Health and Child Care; health and education officials; local authorities and disability service organizations from Guruve, Shamva, Makonde and Zvimba. 

Officially opening the workshop, NASCOH Board Chairperson Mr. Zhou expressed his gratitude to UNESCO for collaborating with Organizations of Persons with Disabilities (OPDs) in implementing the Spotlight Initiative, which is making great strides in ensuring the inclusion of women with disabilities who often face double marginalization and heightened vulnerability due to their gender and disability. He said the workshop came at the right time following the launch of the National Disability Policy and encouraged stakeholders to continue ensuring that service delivery is disability inclusive.

The Washington Group of Questions mainly guided the disability assessment training. The Washington Group (WG) Questions are targeted questions on individual functioning intended to provide a quick and low-cost way to collect data, which allows disaggregation by disability status. 

Presenting on Disability Assessment and Statistics, NASCOH Director, Henry Masaya indicated that there is a huge gap in the availability of disability-disaggregated data and this impacts service provision. He said the unavailability of data impacts negatively on disability inclusion efforts. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) indicates that disability data is a precondition and stresses on State Parties collecting appropriate disability statistics and data to assist in the implementation of the convention. Mr. Masaya indicated that quantitative data alone is not enough; there is need for qualitative data as well for meaningful inclusion. For instance, quantitative data does not indicate the barriers to access yet qualitative data would cover this gap and better inform all interventions. 

Participants indicated that disability data is critical. One community participant from Shamva district indicated that service provision is not inclusive, highlighting how courts and health centers do not have information in accessible formats such as braille and sign language. He also mentioned how the local schools do not have teachers who understand sign language so deaf students cannot access basic education.  Service providers expressed gratitude towards this workshop, as they were equipped with disability assessment skills, which will enable them to ensure disability inclusion. 

Within the Spotlight Initiative Phase 1, UNESCO has also supported Disabled Women Support Organization in documenting disability data in six districts and creating a database that service providers can utilize in programming. Within the framework on the United Nations Partnership on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, UNESCO has also engaged the Center for Inclusive Policy to advise and build the capacities of national institutions involved in supporting the upcoming National Census in order to ensure that disability-disaggregated data is collected in alignment with the CRPD. This initiative will result in the development of model Disability Data collection and reporting methodologies that is conducive to effective implementation of the National Disability Policy.