A roundtable was held in Damaturu to discuss the role of persons living with disability in peacebuilding. The event was organised by the Yobe State Chapter of the Joint National Association of People with Disability (JONAPWD), with support from the Managing Conflict in Nigeria (MCN) Programme.
Stakeholders called for more inclusion of persons with disability in peacebuilding interventions. Participants expressed concern that while persons with disabilities have been badly affected by the insurgency and other forms of violence, their concerns and interests are rarely considered.
Usman Bura Gabai, Chairman of JONAPWD in the state, led the discussion on the impact of violence on persons with disability. Participants observed that disabled persons are often the last to escape from communities facing attacks and are therefore subjected to violence, including rape by attackers.
Discussions highlighted that when people living with disability eventually get to IDP camps, they discover that the camps are not built to cater for disability. This creates difficulty for PWDs when accessing food, sanitation, and medical facilities.
It was also noted that violence perpetrated by insurgents and actors engaged in counter-insurgency operations have led to an increase in the number of PWDs. This increase needs to be factored into plans by government for humanitarian aid, social welfare support, and empowerment and resettlement programmes.
Participants commended some efforts made to respond to the needs of PWDs in the state, notably the appointment of a representative of the JONAPWD into the State Protection Council and the passage of the law on disability by the State House of Assembly.
At the end of the meeting, the following recommendations were made:
- The State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) and other government agencies need to reserve some percentage of livelihood support for people living with disability.
- Government should address the infrastructure needs of school for people living with disability relocated to Damagum.
- Government should conduct a risk assessment of all interventions, including the reintegration initiative to mitigate the adverse impact on people living with disabilities.
- Government and development partners should provide special empowerment programmes for people living with disabilities to enhance their economic independence.
- There should be a platform for people living with disabilities to continuously engage with decision makers.