Limited access to services by Persons with Disabilities is a growing concern around the world, but especially in Africa. While countries have signed up to global instruments such as the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), domestication of these laws remains a major challenge, a situation that affects implementation of policies and service delivery. It is believed that consequences of this phenomenon vary according to national and local socio-economic circumstances, as well as social welfare provisions by states. This desk review sought to unearth the major constraints within the policy architecture that guarantees access to services among PWDs in The Gambia, introducing strategies to strengthen these instruments.
It was observed that current policies have had little impact on the general living and socioeconomic conditions of PWDs. Prolonged exposure to different social factors such as ignorance, neglect, superstition and fear have delayed improvements in their livelihoods, further isolated them. Despite legal and policy provisions, these instruments have lacked strategic focus and direction in their implementation. As a result, interventions to address disability concerns have been mostly piece-meal, not responding directly to established policy provisions. Of the 58 parliamentary representatives for example, only one was a person with disabilities who was nominated by the president for a period of 5 years (2017 to 2021); likewise, only 8 councilors out of 137 are PWDs and all of them were nominated (Nabaneh S., 2021).
It is argued that PWDs will need to be more active in development of policies related to their conditions and related services. First, accountability systems at both national and global levels will need to be activated, making use of timely and accurate evidence to aid decision-making, which will ultimately protect the rights and welfare of PWDs in the country. This will lead to harmonization of laws in line with the CRPD, potentially resulting in inclusive service delivery for PWDs.
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