Destigmatising Disability in Malawi

30 July 2021

Nicholas at the village borehole. [Credit: The Salvation Army Malawi Territory]

In Malawi, like many parts of the world, stigma towards people with a disability leads to discrimination and segregation. As a result, people with a disability often miss out on the benefits of development projects that are designed to benefit whole communities.

With support from the Australian Government through the Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP), The Salvation Army  is helping to change these beliefs by promoting the inclusion of people with a disability in the Karonga Integrated WASH and Food Security Project.

Through the Karonga Integrated WASH and Food Security Project, 708 males and females with various disabilities are benefitting from the project’s water, sanitation and food security activities. For example, the project is constructing sanitation facilities so that they are accessible to people with a mobility impairment.

To give people with a disability a voice in decision making, the project has recruited 15 people with a disability onto WASH and Agriculture Committees, including into key positions such as chairperson, secretary and treasurer. These individuals contribute to the management of project activities and act as role models in the community.

Nicholas is one of these role models. Aged 67 years old and living with a disability, he chairs a Water Management Committee that manages his village’s borehole. Reflecting on the changes that have occurred for him and his community, he says “since the coming of KiWASH project, things have changed in my community, I have constructed my own house, I am doing my farming and I now lead a committee of 9 able bodied people without any problem and members are very supportive all the time.”

By actively including people with disabilities in project activities, the KiWASH project is ensuring that people with disabilities benefit from WASH and food security activities, as well as helping to further destigmatise disability as communities witness the abilities of people with disabilities.

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