DSD AND JICA’S JOURNEY TOWARDS DISABILITY EMPOWERMENT

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By Morapedi Sibeko

  • The World Health Organisation (WHO) emphasises that disability inclusion and equitable practices thrive through collaboration and partnership.
  • The Department of Social Development (DSD) is committed to promoting diversity and amplifying voices in its pursuit of disability mainstreaming, exemplified by its “Policy on Social Development Services to Persons with Disabilities”.
  • Through collaboration with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) since 2015, DSD has championed the inclusion and empowerment of People with Disabilities (PWD), notably focusing on promoting disability mainstreaming and addressing the demand for respite care services.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), the path towards disability inclusion and equitable practices frequently takes shape via the prism of partnership and collaboration.

The Department of Social Development (DSD) is dedicated to promoting diversity and elevating voices at every opportunity as it pursues its goal of disability mainstreaming.  At the core of this series lies a profound understanding of the transformative potential of the evolution of disability policy, along with a dedication to cultivating external relationships. DSD’s unwavering commitment to inclusivity and accessibility is exemplified by the “Policy on Social Development Services to Persons with Disabilities”, which is founded on the concept of disability mainstreaming. The policy has already embarked on a significant journey of public engagement, forging connections and insights that hold the promise of reshaping the landscape of service provision to people with disabilities, even as parliamentary approval is still pending.

Through collaboration with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), DSD has been on a revolutionary journey since 2015. The goal of this endeavour has been to create role models for the inclusion and empowerment of People with Disabilities (PWD).

Initially, this cooperative project was aimed at promoting disability mainstreaming in the South African setting, encompassing four provinces: KwaZulu-Natal, the Eastern Cape, the Free State, and Limpopo. The result of these efforts was the creation of the groundbreaking Disability Empowerment Model (DEM) Guidelines, a framework that empowers people with disabilities and encourages their integration into society at large. The collaboration between DSD and JICA has continued to develop on this basis, with a renewed emphasis in 2021–2022 on meeting the pressing demand for respite care services for families with children who have impairments.

Collaborations and partnerships are the threads that hold together innovative change in the provision of services to PWD. DSD and JICA’s journey is proof of the ability of efforts to create a society that is more inclusive and equal.  In the future, this partnership will leave a lasting legacy that goes well beyond service delivery models and policy frameworks. It represents a dedication to constant communication, education, and adjustment so that the needs and goals of PWD are met.  

On 01 March 2024, the Department of Social Development will meet with JICA to discuss the implementation of a four-year project which is scheduled to run from March 2024 to February 2028. The overarching objective of the project is to capacitate all provinces in South Africa on the implementation of a sustainable community-based respite care services delivery model for children with disabilities and their families.

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