Policy Influencing at Local Levels – the Importance of Community Based Inclusive Development

This photo shows a Cameroonian man in local attire sitting next to a mobile kiosk.

Richard, a trader in Bamenda, owns a small kiosk. During the COVID-19 pandemic, he has received personal protective equipment thanks to CBM our partner in Cameroon SEEPD.

The ‘Global Perspectives 2020’ conference, co-sponsored by CBM, has just come to an end. This year the theme was ‘A Passion for Inclusion’.


The Global Perspectives 2020 conference from 2-5 November 2020 brought together national and international civil society organisation leaders, activists, and innovators. The theme this year was ‘A Passion for Inclusion’. Inclusion is fundamental to civil society organisations’ work – ensuring every voice is heard, everyone can take action, and human rights are realised for all.  

The Conference provided a space to reflect on the meaning of inclusion, and on how organisations can continuously improve their practices to be more inclusive and how they can engage with different actors in doing so.   

Session on ‘Community Matters: Policy influencing on local level’

 CBM conducted a session on policy influencing at local level. 

Rita Agum (Disability and Inclusive Development Officer, CBM Cameroon), Dominique Schlupkothen (Director Community Based Inclusive Development (CBID), Karen Heinicke-Motsch (Senior Global Advisor in CBID at CBM) and Zahida Qureshi (Founder and president of Society for Special Persons in Pakistan) explored how representative organisations of persons with disabilities can effectively influence policy making at the local level to build inclusive communities. CBID was introduced as a key approach to facilitate the localisation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and make rights real in people’s lives. Two practical examples of policy influencing at the local level in Pakistan and Cameroon were also illustrated. 

Decentralisation of decision-making processes in Cameroon

Rita Agum gave an example from her own experiences in Cameroon. In partnership with our local partner Prohandicam, CBM has been implementing an inclusive project since 2014 in Yaoundé, which aims at improving the participation of people with disabilities in decision-making processes at local levels. Thanks to a decentralisation of power within the government in 2019, local councils were equipped with more power to influence the quality of education in their localities. Taking advantage of this situation, Prohandicam and CBM were able to sign Memoranda of Understanding with different local councils to strengthen disability inclusion. The second phase of this project includes the CBID component - mobilising local councils and government officials, organisations of people with disabilities (OPDs) and civil society organisations (CSOs) to ensure their participation in effectively mainstreaming disability in local development initiatives. 

Showcasing the power and relevance of local approaches during the pandemic

CBM has supported advocacy and inclusion workshops in Yaoundé, where organisations (both CSOs and OPDs) are trained on planning, implementing, and evaluating advocacy campaigns. These organisations in turn have carried out advocacy and awareness raising activities, signed formal MoUs with their local councils, and additionally, organised trainings for mainstream schoolteachers on inclusive pedagogic and evaluation methods, thus ensuring that the needs and aspirations of all pupils (with and without disabilities) were met. Local education policies have been strengthened to embrace inclusion and teacher capacity for inclusive education continues to expand.

Multiplier effect of local policy influencing in Pakistan

Zahida Qureshi, founder and president of Society for Special Persons (SSP) in Pakistan, spoke about local policy influencing in Pakistan. Thanks to over 10 years of lobbying for disability rights and disability inclusion, her organisation has pushed the government of Pakistan to provide accessible transport systems, accessible infrastructure in government complexes (toilets/ ramps etc.), as well as an accessible online banking system with the State Bank of Pakistan. Thanks to the SSP, 800 women with disabilities have received national identity cards and disability certificates to be able to vote in national elections. Alongside the WHO, SSP has helped set up self-help groups for women with disabilities as well as vocational training centres for people with disabilities, where they receive skills training to be able to earn a livelihood. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Zahida’s organisation launched a food distribution programme, reaching 1400 women with disabilities and their families, thus earning the title of a ‘Corona war hero’ from the Pakistani government.  

Podcast on ‘Inclusion – Nothing About Us Without Us’

CBM staff Rita Acha Agum (Disability and Inclusive Development Officer in Cameroon) and Dominique Schlupkothen (Director Community Based Inclusive Development) talk about the importance of inclusion and how CBM is empowering local communities to have their own voice and advocate for themselves. In this podcast you will learn about the challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic and how CBM is ensuring our policies not only include people with disabilities, but that they are also actively consulted when designing the response.

Head over here to have a listen