ZIMBABWE – MASVINGO – People living with disabilities are facing huge challenges to survive in Zimbabwe’s rural areas as the country’s food situation worsens.
Thousands of people with disabilities say they are starvation as economic woes continue to bedevil the country.
Persons with disabilities and their families who spoke to VOA Studio 7 said life has become hell due to economic hardships.
Some villagers with disabilities said they have been reduced to beggars for survival as they cannot afford basic needs, especially in the absence of a government social welfare system to provide for them.
Andrew Mutimutsvuku, who lives with disabilities in Masvingo, shares his plight.
“People with disabilities are not given enough recognition and it’s very difficult to survive,” says Mutimutsvuku. “I have become a problem to the people around me as I am always begging for assistance especially to get food for my family.”
He adds that the government has neglected the people with disabilities as it is no longer assisting them through the social welfare department.
Jacob Nhema, a parent of a disabled child with special care needs, told Studio 7 that life has become a nightmare.
“There are a lot of challenges we are facing in Zimbabwe. Donors are no longer coming to help our children with disabilities and government is not doing g anything. We can’t afford to take care of these children and we are in a mess,” said Nhema.
National Council of Disabled Persons of Zimbabwe or NCDPZ confirm the situation is bad for almost everyone in the country but dire for people living with disabilities.
NCDPZ national taskforce member Farirai Chirera says the situation was aggravated by lack of a national policy frame work to recognize and respect the rights of persons living with disabilities.
She, however, urges government to harmonize the United Nations Conventions of Person Living with Disabilities with the new constitution and other laws of the country to improve the lives of the affected disabled persons.
“We are requesting our government to harmonize the convention with the laws of this country, the new constitution. It is very important because all the rights of the disabled will be observed and respected and get the services we need as disabled persons,” says Chirera.
Zimbabwe ratified the UN convention of the rights of the disabled in September 2013 but is yet to align this with the country’s laws.
As a result, charges Chirera, the lives of the persons living with disabilities in Zimbabwe will continue to worsen also in the absence of proper facilities and systems desperately needed to uplift their lives.