The National Identification and Registration Authority (NIRA) has held an engagement meeting with organizations and leaders directly involved in serving people with disabilities (PWDs).
The purpose of the meeting was to discuss and promote the inclusion of PWDs in NIRA’s services, particularly in the upcoming mass enrollment exercise and renewal of national IDs in the country.
Speaking during the meeting Rosemary Kisembo, the NIRA Executive Director reiterated that the upcoming exercise for national ID renewal and mass enrollment registration would impact everyone, regardless of disability or age.
She emphasized that NIRA’s commitment to inclusivity is not merely a favor but a constitutional right enshrined in Article 21 of Uganda’s constitution which promotes equality, freedom from discrimination, and equal protection under the law for all citizens.
Kisembo noted that NIRA is making deliberate efforts to improve service delivery during the exercise, arguing that it’s one of the reasons the institution is conducting extensive stakeholder engagements to ensure inclusivity.
The 2016 UBOS demographic survey puts 12.4% of Uganda’s population to be living with some form of disability.
To this, officials said NIRA intends to incorporate 12.4% of PWDs to form part of the teams during mass enrollment, from national, regional district till parish level, reflecting their commitment to representation and inclusivity.
These say that to create a conducive and inclusive registration environment for PWDs, NIRA will adopt a comprehensive approach.
The enrollment and birth registration forms will include categories of disabilities outlined in schedule 3 of the persons, and the training manual for enrollment officers will cover the needs of PWDs and provide guidance on supporting them effectively.
Additionally, mobile registration units will be available for PWDs, special service centers/registration kits will be designated at every district, and service lines for PWDs will be numbered accordingly. NIRA will also implement special accessibility measures at the enrollment centers.
During the mass enrollment exercise, specific areas marked as “Zone A” will be reserved for PWDs, expectant mothers, the elderly, and children.
NIRA additionally plans to utilize the government’s concept of the creation of one-stop centers, to ensure that PWDs receive dedicated support and services from such centers, while the physically able individuals visit the already existing registration centers.
The engagement meeting brought together partners from various organizations, including the Ministry of Education and Sports, the Ministry of Gender, Labor, and Social Development, the Federation of Uganda Employers, and the Uganda National Association of the Blind.
Speaking during the meeting, Yona Wasswa, the chairperson of the National Council for People with Disabilities (UNCPD), commended NIRA for their willingness to collaborate with them and other relevant players involved in managing PWDs.
He drew upon biblical references, highlighting the historical presence of exclusion and expressing his admiration for NIRA’s commitment to working with PWDs.
Wasswa pledged his support and promised to champion NIRA’s inclusivity initiatives whenever he had the opportunity to initiate conversations on the subject.
Esther Kyozira, the CEO of the National Union of Disabled Persons of Uganda (NUDIPU), expressed her gratitude for the previous engagement with NIRA and emphasized the importance of the joint meeting in determining how disability organizations could collaborate effectively with NIRA.
She pointed out the prevalent discrimination that has resulted in the exclusion of many PWDs from the workforce, despite the potential contributions they can make.
It was revealed that public universities in Uganda currently allocate up to 64 slots per intake for persons with disabilities. This, in turn, increases the number of employable PWDs in the country, making it even more critical to address the discrimination they face.