Experience of a Research Assistant in Uganda

Jukka visited Uganda on September 2008. A report of this travel will follow soon. Meanwhile, we share with the blog readers the experience of Jukka's research assistant Kaddu Zachary, who did a great job during Jukka's visit and most likely we will be cooperating with him in the future too. Thank you Kaddu! Enjoy Kaddu's writing...

Jukka and Kaddu in the Parliament House in Kampala -->


Personal Perspectives on Disability – Uganda

Written by Kaddu Zachary

Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) in Uganda have always struggled to integrate into societies that tend to exclude the disabled or demand conformity. As the number of PWDs surpasses to over two million countrywide, these struggles cannot be ignored.

The Government of Uganda attaches considerable importance to the situation of persons with disabilities in its policies and programmes. The Constitution of the Republic of Uganda 1995 makes specific provisions for their rights and guarantees the means to prevent discrimination and to promote integration. Based on the affirmative-action clause of the 1995 Constitution, Uganda’s legislators have passed several acts to increase the representation of persons with disabilities in the public sphere. As a result, there were more than 2,000 persons with disabilities among elected officials, ranging from the parish to the district level in 2002.

In Uganda, the estimated number of people with disabilities (PWDs) range between 7% and 10% that is ranging between 1, 540,000 and 2,200,000 people of the total population (UNHS, 2005/06). Empirical studies assert that disability in Uganda has exposed persons with disabilities (PWDs) to limited livelihood opportunities, which consequently have led them to a state of poverty and vulnerability. According to the National Disability Policy (2006), PWDs have became more vulnerable by virtue of their impairment and negative societal attitudes arising from fear, ignorance and lack of awareness to participate in development issues. In this context, the UNHS (2005/06:130) reports that for PWDs to access mainstream development programmes has remained a challenge, resulting from negative attitudes, which often lead to social exclusion and marginalization.

Experience has taught me a lot. Being a PWD who has grown in a traumatizing situation were the community looks at you objectively, I have learnt that the road to a happy life is struggling the hard way to achieve what you want in life. As a disabled person, the fundamental issues we PWDs need to understand are; respecting our selves, self-worth, gaining self-confidence and above all ‘learning to accept who we are.’ We PWDs need to accept ourselves and the situations we go through, this will change the society’s perception of who we are thus became accepted by others .

On the part of development in disability, this may not be a one, two or five year plan to achieve rather a step by step issue. Drawing from one writer that ‘…. No need for hurry in Africa’, there should be a systematic way things should be done to benefit all PWDs or else a few will benefit and the majority will not share on such benefits arising out of the efforts made. Human rights of PWDs should be put on the forefront and people, governments and any one who impends and hinders the attainment of them should be held accountable and responsible thus justice apprehended.

I believe with the enforcement of disability legislations and holding our governments or people responsible for jeopardizing our human rights, this world will became a friendly place for all PWDs.

My experience with Jukka in Uganda

I wish to extend my sincere gratitude to Jukka for selecting me as his Research Assistant during his visit in September 2008 to Uganda. Well it was my grate pleasure to host him here in Uganda and I was able to learn a lot from him. As we shared experiences about our lives, I took note that it is always out of struggle, commitment and determination to hold on even in times when things get worse that we achieve our goals in life. During this period as we visited a number of Disabled people and their organisation, I came to learn that we the disabled people ought to work together like termites do when building there home in order to achieve our goals. If we continue to work in isolation, then we shall not be heard and the decision-makers will always make decisions for us. It’s the right time if we started participating and demand for those human rights that we ought to have.

It was great having you – Jukka here in Uganda and our friendship as well as information sharing shall keep us together. I hope and pray that together with others became the leading ‘disability Activists’ with a vision of ensuring that ‘even for the most unheard or marginalized disabled person in the world is granted his/her human rights though by state, political or opinion leaders, and our sisters and brothers the non-disabled.’

Mr. Kaddu Zachary

Bachelor of Social Work and Social Administration (Candidate)

Faculty of Social Science,

Makerere University, Kampala - Uganda

Email: kadduzachary (@) yahoo.com