By CHUSA SICHONE –
THE latest report by the Zambia Federation of Disability Organisation (ZAFOD) has revealed that the country has about two million persons living with disabilities.
The Disability Inclusion and the Sustainable Development Goals launched in Lusaka on Thursday stated that this represented 15 per cent of Zambia’s population.
The report, based on research done in collaboration with United Kingdom’s Leonard Cheshire Disability, further said the World Health Organisation (WHO) statistics identified visual, hearing, physical, communication and intellectual impairments as the prevalent forms of disability in Zambia.
“In addition, a higher percentage of persons living with disabilities is constituted by hearing and visual disabilities and most persons with disabilities live in rural areas where access to basic services is limited.
“The total number of women with disabilities accounts for about 2.4 per cent of the population in Zambia. While the total number of children with disabilities in Zambia accounts for 1.6 per cent of the total population,” the report read in part.
The report said that most Disabled People Organisations (DPOs) believed that the WHO disability statistics were more reliable than those of the Central Statistical Office (CSO) as they felt that the CSO calculation of the population on disability was usually compromised and wrong.
The DPOs viewed the CSO’s statistics as such because of the way the institution defined disability and that most of the people with disabilities would not be willing to admit that they had a disability.
According to the 2000 Population and Housing Census, it was estimated that 2.7 percent of the population was living with a disability and that more than 80 percent of persons with disabilities were engaged in agriculture, making it by far the most common occupation.
The report observed that the 2000 and 2010 Census measured disability based on the definition from the 1980 WHO International Classification of Impairments, Disabilities and Handicaps (ICIDH).
The ICIDH defined disability as a physical or mental handicap which has lasted for six months or more, or is expected to last at least six months, which prevents the person from carrying out daily activities independently, or from participating fully in education, economic or social activities.
The report noted that 2010 Census used the terminology ‘disability’ in the context of the medical model of disability as opposed to the social or human rights model.
The Disability Act of 2012, however, viewed “disability” as a permanent physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairment that alone, or in a combination with social or environmental barriers, hinders the ability of a person to fully or effectively participate in society on an equal basis with others.