For sure, no child deserves to be excluded. And this is exactly why we target our projects at disabled children in Africa.
Africa is still the world’s poorest continent and lots of people there live in poverty. However, in recent decades the numbers of people living in extreme poverty in has actually reduced, in some African countries quite significantly so. In many African countries more than 90% of children are now attending primary school, diseases like polio have been all but eradicated and many African economies are growing much faster than the global average.
In the year 2000 the international community agreed to work towards the Millennium Development Goals - targets for reducing poverty and improving outcomes for the worlds poorest people. When evaluated in 2015, there were lots of successes. But success achieved against the goals was largely measured across whole populations, including everyone. It was generally assumed that development programmes that worked to reduce extreme poverty would inherently reach and include the most disadvantaged sections of societies, for example disabled children.
Unfortunately this wasn't the case. Many general development programmes have been 'successful', but not reached the poorest and most marginalised sections of society, for example women and girls, LGBT people, religious and ethnic minority groups, and, of course, disabled people. To put it simply, the people left furthest behind, who most needed help, didn't get it. It is increasingly recognised by researchers, policy-makers and NGOs that marginalised groups can remain excluded and hidden without programmes that target them directly, and explicitly work to tackle the causes of their exclusion.
Whilst the number of children attending primary school has increased, the number of disabled children attending school across Africa is estimated to have remained at around 2%. This great international development success for children generally has quite clearly left disabled children far behind. Recognising that development must be inclusive, the new Global Goals for Sustainable Development pledged to ‘Leave No One Behind’. These are the targets that Disability Africa is helping to work towards with regard to disabled children in African countries. We are doing our bit to ensure that no one is left behind.
Guess what? If we are successful, everybody stands to benefit.