#Article (Archive)

Disability in The Gambia

Aug 13, 2012, 10:13 AM

Summary of the Situation of People with Disabilities:

The WHO Disability Report in 2011 estimated that 15% of people have a disability, meaning over 1 billion people worldwide, of whom over 100 million experience very significant difficulties. The prevalence of disability is growing due to population ageing and the global increase in chronic health conditions. Patterns of disability in a particular country are influenced by trends in health conditions and trends in environmental and other factors –such as road traffic crashes, natural disasters, conflict, diet and substance abuse.

Disability disproportionately affects vulnerable populations. Disability is more common among women, older people and households that are poor. Lower income countries have a higher prevalence of disability than higher income countries. UNICEF reports that 90% of children with disabilities in Africa have never attended any education. The Gambia’s Household Survey (2003) recorded that 2.4% of people have disabilities, but this figure is expected to rise in 2013’s Survey by GBOS due to implementation of more accurate data collection methods.

UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD)

The UNCRPD opened for signature in 2007 and is the fastest negotiated UN Convention in history, with the highest ever number of signatures on the opening day.

August 2012: 153 signatories to the Convention, 117 ratifications of the Convention; 90 signatories to the Optional Protocol, 71 ratifications of the Optional Protocol

40 African Union States have signed the Convention and 32 have ratified the UN Convention:

 The Convention supports the movement from viewing persons with disabilities as “objects” of charity, medical treatment and social protection towards viewing persons with disabilities as “subjects” with rights, who are capable of claiming those rights and making decisions for their lives based on their free and informed consent as well as being active members of society.

The Convention is the first human rights convention of the 21st century and the first legally binding instrument with comprehensive protection of the rights of persons with disabilities.  While the Convention does not establish new human rights, it does set out with much greater clarity the obligations on States to promote, protect and ensure the rights of persons with disabilities. Thus, the Convention not only clarifies that States should not discriminate against persons with disabilities, it also sets out the many steps that States must take to create an enabling environment so that persons with disabilities can enjoy real equality in society.

What are the obligations on States Parties to the Convention?

The Convention identifies general and specific obligations on States parties in relation to the rights of persons with disabilities.  In terms of general obligations, States have to:

• adopt legislation and administrative measures to promote the human rights of persons with disabilities;

• adopt legislative and other measures to abolish discrimination;

• protect and promote the rights of persons with disabilities in all policies and programmes;

• stop any practice that breaches the rights of persons with disabilities;

• ensure that the public sector respects the rights of persons with disabilities;

• ensure that the private sector and individuals respect the rights of persons with disabilities;

• undertake research and development of accessible goods, services and technology for persons with disabilities and encourage others to undertake such research;

• provide accessible information about assistive technology to persons with disabilities;

• promote training on the rights of the Convention to professionals and staff who work with persons with disabilities

• consult with and involve persons with disabilities in developing and implementing legislation and policies and in decision-making processes that concern them.

The Gambia: Integrated National Disability Policy 2009-2018– draft

Since 2009, the National Disability Policy has been awaiting adoption. It identifies and defines key areas for policy intervention in the Gambia for Persons with Disabilities. The main objective of the disability policy is to enhance care for and help individuals with disability to cope with situations and be fully functional in their communities. Despite trainings and services interventions Persons with Disabilities are facing a lot of challenges preventing them from fully participating in daily life activities.

The development of any country is determined by the quality of life of its inhabitants.  This population obviously includes Persons with Disabilities. The Gambia will therefore be committed to invest and cater for the diverse needs of this group to make them independent and productive members of the society.  Investing in disability means having a society fit for all ‘’as the saying goes nothing about us without us’’.  The following will be the justifications for investing in disability:

1.            Reduce the incidence of street begging

2.            Reduce dependency

3.            Reduce delinquency

4.            Reduce the issue of child labor among children with disabilities

5.            People with Disabilities will develop to their fullest potential

6.            Increase life expectancy for People with Disabilities

7.            Increase economic independence

8.            Promote mainstreaming and social inclusion

9.            Enhances individual responsibility

10.          Promote Human Rights of People with Disabilities

The Disability Policy is broken into chapters, giving policy guidelines, discussing monitoring and evaluation, legislation, the institutional framework for policy implementation and the proposed structures for the coordination of disability issues.

The draft Disability Bill is to support the implementation of this Policy.

African Decade – Award of Ambassadorial Status

The Ambassadorial Status is a Secretariat civil society award to the Government for progress already made and to be made in the field of disability mainstreaming and integration. The award is effected through a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) linked to specific programmes. The MOA is not a political agreement.

The objective of this status is to:

a.    Provide opportunities for mainstreaming or integrating disability in key spheres of government programmes.

b.    Showcase the disability model and achievements as examples of good practice worth of replication in other parts of Africa and beyond.

c.    Facilitate the mobilisation of funding and other resources that will make it possible to implement the programmes in section 2.2 of the MOA.

d.    Demonstrate the usefulness of leadership by government in the field of disability mainstreaming and human rights.

e.    To publicly affirm and reward the Government for achievements in disability and human rights while at the same time promoting international and development cooperation in the field of disability.

The objective of the award is to promote sharing of best practice in disability mainstreaming. The award

was decided upon after implementing activities and collection of evidence and data that support and validate the progress that has been made in the country.

The Gambia accepted the Ambassadorial Award in 2011. This is a big opportunity for the Gambia to receive recognition on the international stage for its work in disability.

For further information:




Contact info

The Gambia Federation of the Disabled – GFD

Tel: Secretariat 8905368 Gfdgambian1@gmail.com