Botswana Council for the Disabled (BCD) has been in existence for over 30 years. It was established in 1980 after the National Development Plan of 1973 -78 declared that there was insufficient attention given to people with disabilities in Botswana. A study was then commissioned to investigate the issue and come up with long term solutions. The commission was made up of government ministries of Health and Education together with three disability organizations which existed at the time. The organizations were formed by the churches.
The Disabled (BCD) is a Non-Governmental Charitable Organization mandated to coordinate all the organizations providing services to People with Disabilities (PWDs) in Botswana. There are currently 30 organizations of PWDs affiliated to BCD. The council is recognized by Botswana government as the official representative body for the NGO disability movement and for disability in general. It is also charged with the responsibility to advise and recommend to Government, NGO’s and other organizations on policies, programs and issues on all matters relating to the welfare, education, training, rehabilitation, health and employment of people with disabilities.
>> Provision of Technical Support to Disabled Person’s Organizations (DPOs)
>> Day care training
>> Care giver/parental workshops on a variety of issues; understand what disability is and accept and love their children, how to care for the children with disabilities, Children’s Rights and Disability Rights, Sign Language training for those with deaf children
>> Governance training for Board of Governors for member organizations
>> Resource Mobilization
>> Capacity building for Safety, Health and Environment Officers. When COVID 19 Pandemic hit the world, Botswana was not spared. DPOs selected officers for SHE Officer role without considering prior knowledge and skills. BCD realised this and collaborated with Ministry of Health to empower them for their new role
>> HIV AIDS and Disability Workshops. Since the advent of HIV and AIDS pandemic, Botswana government has been funding BCD to build and strengthen capacity of DPOs to programme for HIV and AIDS as well as empower PWDs with and Prevention and control
Public Awareness and Education on Disability/Advocacy
This aims to educate the public on issues of disability, change the society’s mindset as regards disability as well as promote the rights of PWDs. Such activities are mostly through face to face (before COVID), social media, radio and television. We also search for opportunities where there are gatherings or meetings especially with decision makers since it is not possible to gather them. For communities, the most effective way of doing this at village level is where the villagers are invited to a meeting at the Kgotla. This is the traditional meeting place with the Chief. It is also used as the tribal court. It is a very important place where serious issues of interest to communities are discussed. Usually, an announcement by driving around the village and talking through a public address system is made a couple of days before and on the day in the morning to remind that communities.
The forums are at different levels.
a) People with disabilities meet to discuss general issues of concern and help one another and share information. Topics included are on advocacy, disability rights, success stories from persons with disabilities as well as government/private sector programmes available for PWDs.
b) The other networking forum is where leaders of DPOs often meet to discuss issues on disabilities. The forums provide opportunities for networking which is part of capacity development where they share knowledge and information for evidence based practice.
c) National, regional and international visits for mutual learning and benchmarking purposes. The current situation of COVID pandemic resulted in innovation ideas where there a quite a number of disability WhatsApp groups formed for information sharing in general.
Organizational Assessment/Providing support
Donating face shields: As it is the role of BCD to support unique needs, after the first lock down in April 2020, BCD undertook support visits to check how DPOs were coping with the COVID-19 pandemic. It became evident that government support was biased towards their establishments and inadequate in some cases. Some organizations needed a different type of protection from the usual covering of nose and mouth with a cloth mask. They needed face shields for various reasons.
Disability Inclusive Development
As part of Disability Inclusive development, BCD conducts research on inclusiveness and participates in national and international forums to make sure that we align with the world agenda on disability, therefore, leaving no one behind. A project was awarded to BCD by USAID after a call for proposal was advertised internationally which we responded to and won. It was the first of its kind in the country.
Outcomes included: Increased knowledge and skills on disability inclusion in GBV programmes, enhanced capacity of participating DPOs/NGOs to develop their organizational strategies to address GBV as well as inclusiveness.
The Project: Actions Linking Gender and HIV Together (ALIGHT) Botswana Project (Jul. 2017–Jun 2019)
Project Aim: This was a research project which aimed to increase participation of women and girls with disabilities in GBV preventions programs. (Sites: Gaborone, Maun and Francistown). It was a participatory research study in which women and girls with disabilities were engaged in data collection, analysis and taught how to understand strategies to reduce GBV.