Malawi: The Deaf Deprived of Benefits From Social Protection Programmes

Nkhotakota — Individuals with hearing impairment in Nkhotakota have asked the district's local council to recognize them in public social protection programmes, saying they are sidelined from benefitting from such initiatives.

Speaking Thursday when Nkhotakota Association for the Deaf (NAD) presented complaints to the district's social welfare office, its secretary, Baliki Chizito claimed no deaf person in the district has benefited from Farm Input Subsidy Program (FISP), Social Cash Transfer (SCT) and even the Public Works Programme (PWP).

"The authorities do not consider us and we suffer discrimination even at village level. Chiefs do not involve deaf persons in Public Works programmes, let alone the FISP.

"People with other forms of disabilities are shortlisted to benefit from the programmes, unlike the deaf who are sidelined in everything," he said.

Chizito said they were compelled to speak out because he claimed that for three consecutive years, the deaf had experienced the said exclusion from benefitting from government's social development initiatives.

The association then demanded the council to recognize the deaf like any other persons with disabilities when it comes to allocation of benefits in various government development activities.

Assistant Social Welfare Officer in the district, Goodwell Kalimanjira said his office had received the complaints and would follow up through the community social workers to resolve the matter.

"We will do the follow ups through the social workers and service providers to know what has triggered the situation," he said.

Kalimanjira, however, observed that, that happened because most of the social protection programmes target the ultra-poor households' heads which would indeed, exclude youthful persons with hearing impairments.

He also observed that the use of Unified Beneficiary Registry (URB) in the selection of beneficiaries by Capital Hill might also perpetuate the exclusion of people with disabilities to have access to the programmes such as the FISP.

The District Disability Forum (DDF) chairman for Nkhotakota, William Afaki argued that there was lack of representation of disability persons in civil protection committees in the district which created the gap.

"To address the problem, there is need to include representatives of persons with disability in committees that coordinate social protection programmes for advice," he said.

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