ELIAS MHEGERA, Friday, March 28-April 3, 2008
CITY authorities should take immediate measures to handle a growing number of street beggars. As there is a fast growing number of this population at an unprecedented speed, there are clear indications that the situation might be even more pathetic in other regions.
One is drawn into a conclusion that the mushrooming of street beggars particularly in Kariakoo is a response calculated to send a strong message to the concerned authorities.
The message is clear too, that these people have been neglected by their closer relatives, and that there are no institutions which cater for their immediate demands like food, shelter, clothes etc.
It has to be understood that disabled people are part of the society: therefore they deserve to be accorded every kind of services which will make them live comfortably and feel that they are part of the entire society.
Tanzania has ratified and signed the international covenants and treaties in regard to human rights; therefore there is a need to pay attention to economic, social and cultural rights of every citizen in order to guarantee enjoyment of civil and political rights.
A hostile environment to disabled people and a lack of institutional response to their demands make them vulnerable to other social menaces like the HIV-AIDS infections. Apart from that, this group of neglected people involves a big number of school dropouts due to poverty, subsequently this leads to an increse of orphans.
Disabled people could contribute to our national economy if they are supported with amenities and resources which could enhance petty businesses. On the contrary these people are victims of stigma and discrimination, they lack care and support to attend schools and make a positive contribution for our economy.
Disregard to the disabled has another impact which is mainly psychological due to the fact that there are no guarantees of care when they fall sick, or whenever they fall victims of personal health problems.
Unhappiness, stigmatization and discrimination just contribute to negative behaviours as a response to the social rejection. Hence there is a need for strong advocacy and support from all leaders who have the capacity to influence the society as a whole, and make informed decisions.
Apart from material support disabled needs guidance and deliberate actions from committed people with 'the spirit to serve'. In this way we can easily support any initiative including mobilization of resources to confront the problem.
The strenth and magnitude of the people's response will correspond with, well to the way political and governmental leadership handles the matter. Constant perpetual encouragement and persuasion will ensure more people taking actions as opposed to a rather laissez-affaire attitude.
There is a need to dicourage all negative attitudes towards the disabled. For that matter, there is need for formulation of and implementation of policies and advocacy by the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare to engage other partners, for instance NGOs, agencies, both at local and international level to implement the programme of averting the problem.
Partnership will increase material and financial resources for the programme. The current ministerial infrastructure can be used to facilitate implementation of the programme and counselling the victims.
Technical committees can be formulated by human rights activist groups to oversee the implementation of regulations, and programmes in supporting the marginalized groups.
In this endeavor religious institutions like the Christian Relief Services (CRS), or the Islamic relief agencies could be co-opted to man personnel who can work together with CBOs, NGOs and with other faith organizations in supporting the existing institutional framework.
To start with disabled people should be enlighted on international agencies which support their course. For instance, the Disabled People's International (DPI), which is a network of national organizations or assemblies of disabled people, established to promote human rights of disabled people through full participation, equalization and development.
The goals of DPI are clearly stipulated in its 2007-2011 strategic plans as promotion of human rights of disabled persons, promotion of human rights of disabled persons, promotion of economic and social integration of disabled persons and development and support of organizations of disabled persons in line with the UN Convention for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRDP).