Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, warm greetings to you all.
Thank you for this opportunity to speak about our experiences today.
My name is Dominique Schlupkothen, I am CBM’s Director for Community Based Inclusive Development.
In our disability inclusive community development work, we follow a human rights-based approach, and contribute to ensuring the equal right of persons with disabilities to live independently in the community and with equal choices to others. There is strong evidence that this right, enshrined in article 19 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), remains a dream if necessary support systems are not in place.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, through our work in low income settings in 35 countries, we have seen the terrible consequences on inclusion and participation in the community when existing community support systems are breaking down:
- Many people with support needs lost autonomy because services like personal assistance became unavailable during lockdowns. As a result:
- Often access to very basic needs like water, food or medical support was denied
- Dependency on informal family support systems and pressure on families, mostly on women and girls, and on informal networks of persons with disabilities increased to provide support, in a situation when
- Many families lost their incomes due to lock downs and were very often fighting to make ends meet and survive
- In addition, looking after family members and friends who were not living in the same household during lock downs, was sometimes even considered illegal by local authorities
In this context, local action has become ever more relevant over the last years and we have seen the power of local approaches, particularly when
- Long-standing community relationships facilitate trust, resilience and collective action.
- Organisations of Persons with Disabilities and service providers are working effectively together
Such collaboration requires adequate policy frameworks and access to adequate social protection. Resources are to be made available to Organisations of Persons with Disabilities. Usually, Persons with Disabilities are best placed to identify gaps in systems and services and to provide local perspectives on what type of care and support is needed to live independently in the community (and prevent institutionalisation).
In some situations during the pandemic, the actions of persons with disabilities pitching in to help friends, family, neighbours or the larger community shifted prejudicial attitudes towards disability and created opportunities to build stronger, more resilient, inclusive care and support systems.
Especially when resources are scarce, local action is often the most sustainable, efficient and effective way to drive social innovation and bring about the social and systemic change required for full inclusion and participation in the community. This power of using local resources, of local actors working together through multisectoral approaches is increasingly recognised by government and non-government stakeholders.
Finally, we have made very good experiences with facilitating dialogue and exchange: Together with our partners, we have created spaces for learning between local actors and across communities about social innovation in the area of community care and support.
In this spirit of dialogue and exchange, I am very much looking forward to the other interventions from persons with disabilities and family members that will follow. Thank you for your attention.