Climate ChangeDisability

Climate Change, a threat to disabled persons, time is ripe for their inclusion


By Tendai Guvamombe

Disabled Persons constitute a considerable population in Zimbabwe. Despite having 65 percent as youth, young people with disabilities have been in a predicament of being neglected in the national processes that deserves their inclusion.

Despite having youths fighting for space, agitating for their voices to be heard on different platforms, Youth With Disabilities(YWDs) have been left out since time immemorial.

Sometimes, when youths are granted solid opportunities to take part in various programmes such as global platforms on a national ticket, YWDs are nowhere to be found.

Their long standing exclusion from participating in the mainstream space has left a widening gape, a rift that needs an imminent address.

Sustainable Development Goals(SDGs) calls for everyone’s inclusion despite race, creed and gender, marginalized groups included.

Some non -government organization have recorded positive strides in spearheading disability mainstreaming anchoring on United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities(UNCRPD).

Mashonaland Central Province has a pool of disability persons, who are now visible in various programmes. They were empowered by Development Aid From People to People(DAPP), Leonard Cheshire Disability (LCD) and European Union.

Climate Change is the only missing topic within the disability community, as they are the most affected by the phenomenon.

The government through office bearers has been constantly working with different organizations in championing disability mainstreaming and inclusion.

Amid all this, the unprecedented weather scenarios has instigated a dramatic shift of events with the global trend pointing towards green economy.

Climate Change adaptation and mitigation has instituted changes which now calls for the establishment of climate safe cities, resilient buildings and infrastructure, new farming models, climate smart agriculture among others.

As the UNCRPD stipulates inclusion of disabled persons in all spheres of influence, it can be a necessity to involve persons with disabilities, especially Youth With Disabilities(YWDs) in some of the climate change adaptation and mitigation actions.

The entire globe is agitating for equality in which issues revolving around sustainability are at the centre of development.

This have seen a drastic shift of events where climate change as a topical issue is now spearheading sustainable development.

This is largely seen by the way green initiatives are shaping the new economic perspective. Thus latest demands are pointing towards turning challenges into opportunities and solutions.

Climate Change as a challenge, is undoubtedly poising negative effects on persons with disabilities. This now requires their practical inclusion.

Youths With Disabilities should be given the greenlight to explore various opportunities and initiatives presented in the context of green economy.

Zimbabwe Sunshine Group(ZSG) has become an epitome in leading disability initiatives under the banner ‘Climate Justice and Disability’ rights.

“Climate Justice and Disability’ rights Programme started in 2020 as a follow-up to the community-driven climate education that had been done in 2019. Issues emerging pointed ZSG in the direction of starting an intervention for PWDs in the climate action and environmental protection programme area. Our core business is waste management in relation to environmental and climate change issues. As ZSG has diverse backgrounds through its personnel, we intersected Environment and Human Rights then created this platform as a gap-closure between the two, in respect with PWD. It is a Rights-based approach that is being supported by economic empowerment. We expect clear pathways from disability organisations as well as the government of Zimbabwe by the time we wrap up this leg of the programme later this year in August” ,he said.

Such initiatives speaks to the provisions provided for in the National Adaptation Plan(NAP) Programme.

Despite having legal frameworks in supportive of the inclusion of marginalized groups, more can be done to include them in sustainable development.

Tendai Guvamombe