— By Kudzai Makoni, ACDRC Regional Team Leader (East and Southern Africa)
The work of Africa Community Development and Research Center (ACDRC) has for a long time dating as far back as 2009 been defined by a demonstrable passion and care for persons with disabilities. Beginning with the training of organized support groups of mothers of children with disabilities in Harare’s Dzivaresekwa and Highfield high—density suburbs, ACDRC has grown in its mastery of disability-sensitive programming. Having supported three support groups of these mothers, ACDRC’s reputation in disability—centeredness justified its selection to be the consultants that went on to evaluate Leonard Cheshire Disability Zimbabwe’s (LCDZ) program titled “Young Voices”, which empowers young people with disabilities by exposing them to multiple platforms for advocacy dialogues. The high-quality evaluation that ACDRC delivered attracted a further opportunity to facilitate LCDZ’s debut strategic planning process. Thereafter, the organization went on to facilitate all strategic planning reviews of LCDZ from 2013 to 2017, completing the five—year cycle of the initial strategic plan. Meanwhile, ACDRC evaluated five different LCDZ programs between 2013 and 2018, which focused on education, sexual and reproductive health (SRH), access to justice, economic empowerment, water—sanitation—and— hygiene (WASH) and advocacy matters of persons with disabilities.
Over the years, ACDRC has deepened its mainstreaming of disability and gender in its research analysis
for various organizational partners and clients, including in the following instances:
Work with LCDZ strengthened ACDRC’s reputation in disability programming until many development partners queued to access its technical services in this field. To date, ACDRC has entered memoranda of understanding with LCDZ and Disability HIV and AIDS Trust (DHAT) to cement technical partnerships that will allow for ACDRC’s joint program executions with these organizations. Within these partnerships, ACDRC will adhere to its niche of building technical capacity and generating knowledge through research
while its partners will focus on program implementation. Already its partnership with LCDZ has culminated in a contract with a consortium of United Nations agencies to conduct two studies, one exploring the needs and aspirations of girls and women with disabilities, and another assessing the influence of cultural beliefs and social norms on the well—being of Zimbabwe’s girls and women with disabilities. The study is covering twenty Zimbabwean districts within six provinces and is expected to be a landmark step in enlightening the country’s policymakers, program implementers, academicians, traditional and religious leaders about injustices that persons with disabilities endure and how these can
There is generally very little research information on disabilities, with population-based studies conducted on the subject so far providing conflicting statistics about disability prevalence in Zimbabwe. A wide gap separates a study that approximates 1.8 million Zimbabweans to be having disabilities with another that estimates that only 700,000 persons have disabilities. The very definition of disability is scantly addressed with the support of empirical evidence and most of the debates on the subject are predominantly based on researches conducted in high–income countries. To this end, ACDRC is fast contributing to Zimbabwe’s history-making journey that will end with persons with disabilities securing public respect and recognition.