Zimbabwe Sunshine Group(ZSG) has moved a step further in seeking the inclusion of persons with disabilities in climate change related programmes and initiatives. The latest development comes amid recent studies revealed that persons with disabilities are the most affected by climate change vagaries.
Currently, ZSG is the only youth initiative in Harare to drive waste management and recycling under the banner of circular economy. This came as a game-changer in spearheading environmental protection and emancipation of vulnerable groups.
Against this background, ZSG is currently in a bid to incorporate persons with disabilities(PWDs) in some of their initiatives through advocacy, awareness and empowerment.
This have seen ZSG launching a developmental programme last year in December dubbed ‘Climate Justice and Disability Programme’.
In an exclusive interview with ZSG Executive Director Ronny Mbaisa on Saturday, revealed the anticipated timeline and goals for the programme.
“This program 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.
Prior to the exclusive interview, ZSG has been carrying out a series of webinar sessions which featured government officials, experts in Climate change and disability, youths, Civic Society, development partners, Youth with Disabilities(YWDs) and journalists.
Claris Mandoreba, ZSG Programmes Manager, who is also an accredited Human Rights Expert with World Federation for United Nations Assocations, spoke to this publication on the sidelines of virtual sessions held since the beginning of the year.
“Some time ago, women were fighting for gender balances. Now disability inclusion targeting youths and children specifically, is an area that is still grey, not black and white. Someone needs to be fighting for these young people with disabilities to see climate justice. ZSG uses waste management and other existing platforms to create opportunities for economic, social empowerment, at the same time capacitating them to take decision-making into their own hands when it comes to climate change interventions which are meant to be for their benefit.”
Zimbabwe is a signatory of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) which calls for the disability mainstreaming in all corners of the society.
The inclusion of Youth With Disabilities(YWDs) in climate change related Programmes will be crucial as Zimbabwe’s programmes on climate action is now in cognoscente of marginalized members of the society.
Lawrence Mashungu, a Climate Change Expert in the Climate Change Management Department elaborated on the relevance of disability inclusion in line with Zimbabwe’s climate change programmes such as National Adaptation Plan(NAP) and the current Zimbabwe’s nationally determined contributions on Climate Change.
“Climate Change impact exposure and vulnerability is context specific so also is the required response.Therefore those living with disabilities will definately be disppropotionately affected and this will definately call for a tailor made response plan.”
“As the Government is currently developing the National Adaptation Plan ( NAP). It is important that representatives of people living with disabilities fully participate in the ongoing consultations.The Zimsunshine group is doing a tremendous job in raising awareness in this important subject of climate change and disability.”