United Nations Disability Inclusion Strategy Documentary (UNDIS) Zimbabwe
The UNDIS pilot assessment, which was conducted within the framework on the Zimbabwe UNPRPD Round 3 project extension phase on “Strengthening disability-inclusion in the COVID-19 pandemic”, sought to ascertain the level of disability inclusion within UN agencies. The assessment was carried out by the Zimbabwe Albino Association (ZIMAS), an organisation of persons with disabilities, together with Christian Blind Mission (CBM), which supported as a technical partner. The UNCT UNDIS scorecard and framework were used as the main assessment tool to guide the process. Nine (9) UN agencies took part in the UNDIS assessment through virtual key-informant interviews and focus group discussions. The UN Resident Coordinator also participated as a key informant, together with UNRCO staff. Furthermore, OPDs working with various UN agencies also took part in the assessment. In addition, the ZIMAS and CBM team undertook physical site visits to seven UN agencies’ premises in order to assess physical accessibility for diverse categories of persons with disabilities.
Findings were that extensive efforts have been made to implement the UNDIS and promote disability inclusion within the Zimbabwe United Nations Country Team (UNCT). Significant strides have been made by the UN towards ensuring accessibility and reasonable accommodation for persons with disabilities. However, despite the meaningful progress witnessed for most of the UNDIS indicators, the UN’s level of disability inclusion in its strategic policies and key programming frameworks still lack specific disability policies. In this regard, the UNCT is in general terms still lagging behind on indicators such as strategic planning, procurement, employment of persons with disabilities, and communication. It is, however, worth noting that notable progress has been made by the UNCT on indicators such as leadership, set-up and coordination, joint programs as well as mainstreaming disability inclusion within the Corporation Framework and Common Country Analysis (CCA). Where the leadership indicator is concerned, it is worth highlighting the Action Plan on the UNDIS Scorecard led by the UN Resident Coordinator. The presence of the UNRCO Gender and Disability Advisor, who coordinates disability inclusion within the UN, working with disability focal points, was also a sign of UNCT commitment to disability inclusion. In addition, Zimbabwe stands out as one of the few countries in the region where the UN is implementing a joint UN initiative on advancing disability rights, the United Nations Partnership on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
On another note, it was established that the majority of UN agencies were not yet familiar with the UNDIS Scorecard indicators and therefore had no agency-specific policies or strategies in place to adapt and advance the framework. However, measures have been put in place to increase awareness about these indicators through several capacity-building initiatives. The research team witnessed the first UNDIS Induction Training for UN Staff, which was held virtually on the 16th of April 2021. Over 40 UN staff were trained on the UNDIS and disability-inclusion concepts and indicators. The above-mentioned UNCT UNDIS Action Plan for 2021 will also be instrumental in guiding the UNCT on disability inclusion. Despite the few notable achievements, programs and practices of the UN in Zimbabwe, more work and resources are required from the UN Country Team in order to ensure that agencies effectively implement the UNDIS, which is the main guiding framework for UN agencies in the quest to advance disability inclusion.
We would like to thank all UN Staff and disability civil society organizations that participated and contributed to the success of the first Zimbabwe UNDIS Comprehensive Pilot Assessment of UN agencies. Firstly, special thanks go to the UN Resident Coordinator, Maria Ribeiro, for her overall support in conducting assessment using the UNDIS Score Card. We would like to thank the UNESCO ROSA Regional Director, Professor Herbert Gijzen, for leading the process, together with the RCO Gender and Disability Coordination Advisor, Magdeline Madibela, and the UNPRPD Team Leader and UNESCO Head of Unit & Programme Specialist Social and Human Sciences, Phinith Chanthalangsy. Special thanks also go to the UNPRPD Round 3 Project team, the UN Disability Focal Persons and the UN agencies that participated in this assessment, namely: UNAIDS, UNDP, UNESCO, UNFPA, UNIC, UNICEF, UNWOMEN, WFP and WHO.
We are especially grateful to the Organisations of Persons with Disabilities (OPDs) that undertook the assessment, namely: Epilepsy Support Foundation (ESF), Disabled Women Support Organisation (DWSO), Federation of Organisations of Disabled Persons in Zimbabwe (FODPZ), Muscular Dystrophy Association of Zimbabwe (MDZ), National Council for the Disabled Persons in Zimbabwe (NCDPZ), Zimbabwe National Association for Mental Health (ZIMNAMH).
Special thanks also go to the Zimbabwe Albino Association personnel: the Director, Ms. Mercy Maunganidze, for her overall guidance and noteworthy contribution towards the success of this assessment, and Dr Farai Maunganidze, the Assignment Coordinator, for leading the team from the beginning to the end of this assignment and ensuring that the terms of reference of this assignment were effectively and professionally executed. Moreover, we would like to thank Project Assistants Kudakwashe Machiha and Memory Munyoro for supporting and assisting the team leader in this endeavour. We would also like to express our gratitude to Christian Blind Mission Country Director, Deborah Tigere, and her team – Godwin Kudzotsa, Louis Bandawe and Allen Chaitezvi – for their technical support, expertise and guidance throughout this assignment.
We are grateful, too, to research assistants and data capturers – Martha Mapuranga, Tendai Chomunoda and Mercy Makohliso – whose support and commitment contributed tremendously to the success of this assessment. Our profound gratitude also goes to the team of persons with disabilities who participated in the accessibility check visits – Jules Dhaudhi, Lincoln Matongo, Stembeni Manduna and Senzeni Mutevedzi – whose commitment and expertise contributed immensely to the success of this assessment. Our sincere thanks, too, to all the Organisations of Persons with Disabilities (OPD) that participated in the interview process of this assessment.
Last, but certainly not least, our special thanks to Winston Chaniwa, who took pictures and video clips during the accessibility check visits and produced a documentary on the activities undertaken during the assessment.