Advocates Call for Disability Inclusion, Empowerment
According to National Economic Empowerment Fund CEO Humphrey Mdyetseni, 204 of over 2 million persons with disabilities have benefitted from the K76 billion loan package disbursed by NEEF.
LILONGWE, Malawi- Disability Rights Defenders Forum has called on governmental and non-governmental institutions to foster inclusivity in the country, aiming at fostering socio-economic empowerment, writes Mustafa Makumba.
Speaking during an engagement hosted by the parliamentary committee on social and community affairs held at the Parliament building in Lilongwe on Nov. 30, 2023, Member of Parliament Overton Kondowe, a prominent vocal advocate for the rights of people with disabilities, highlighted the need for a review of some policies that hinder some people with disabilities from accessing essential financial amenities such as loans.
"There is a need for research on the needs of people with disabilities," Kondowe said.
The lawmaker further advocated for the effective implementation of policies safeguarding the rights of people with disabilities.
He proposed institutions have dedicated offices overseeing affairs of people with disabilities while ensuring targeted needs are met.
"We propose extended loan repayment periods for persons with disabilities under NEEF, to improve their economic activities. There is a need to adjust interest rates downwards to address repayment challenges," he added.
According to National Economic Empowerment Fund CEO Humphrey Mdyetseni, 204 of over 2 million persons with disabilities have benefitted from the K76 billion loan package disbursed by the state-owned organization.
This has been largely attributed to the high risk of default among people with disabilities.
"Despite significant nonrepayment of loans among people with disabilities, we try hard to disburse huge sums, aiming to economically empower them. We offer lower rates because we know their potential to contribute to broader economic growth," Mdyetseni said.
During the event, the Forum presented position papers with recommendations to NEEF and the Department of Disaster Management Affairs, calling for significant steps in transforming lives of people with disabilities.
The engagement was supported by National Democratic Institute through its project "Mobilizing disability and human rights leaders on Covid-19 response and recovery," aiming to bring stakeholders together to identify ways of advancing livelihoods of the underserved group.