Feedback Report Re: Briefing of the Delegates from the Swedish Committee for Afghanistan (SCA)

May 28, 2013

26 April 2013

F O R:       Hon. CORAZON JULIANO-SOLIMAN (Secretary)

F R O M:    The UNDERSECRETARY (Operations and Programs Group (OPG))

SUBJECT : Feedback Report Re: Briefing of the Delegates from the Swedish Committee for Afghanistan (SCA) – Rehabilitation of Afghans with Disabilities Program (RAD), 23 April 2013, NCDA Boardroom

This is to provide the Honorable Secretary the highlights of the abovementioned meeting where the undersigned presided over the briefing at NCDA to the delegates of SCA-RAD composed of Afghanistan Deputy Minister Suraya Paikan of the Ministry of Labor, Social Affairs, Martyrs and Disabled (MOLSAMD), Mr. Peter Kiyonga, SCA-RAD Technical Advisor, and Mr. Bryan Lazaro from the Colombo Plan Staff College, on the policies, current programs for PWDs, and methods of implementation of these programs in the Philippines.

I. BACKGROUND ON SCA-RAD

The Swedish Committee is mandated to work only in Afghanistan. It currently has 13 Chapters comprised of 6,500 members – 12 Chapters of 6000 members are in Sweden, and 1 Chapter of 500 members were in Afghanistan. They work in four specific areas – Health, Rural Development, Education, and Disability. The Swedish Committee started working on the Disability Area primarily to look after and rehabilitate victims of war, with the establishment of Rehabilitation of Afghans with Disabilities Program (RAD). 3% of Afghanistan’s total population of 25 million was PWDs, the main factor for their people incurring disability being wars and conflicts in their country.

Currently, MOLSAMD takes the lead in the Social Protection in Afghanistan, and they have three commitments specific to the PWDs sector: Integrating PWDs to all spheres with particular focus on education and employment, ensuring skills development for 150,000 unemployed Afghans (of which 35% are female and 10% are PWDs), and that 3% of the PWDs will be employed by the government in the administrative sector.

Given these commitments, MOLSAMD through SCA-RAD looked outward on how other countries, including the Philippines, involve the PWDs in their national policies and programs, and how these were being implemented or mainstreamed, especially those related to employment support and skills training/education.

II. OBJECTIVES OF THE SCA-RAD VISIT

Mr. Kiyonga enumerated the major objectives of the visit. Among them:

A. Understanding the country policy guidelines on skills development and vocational training and inclusive approach in the work force for PWDs;

B. Discuss and understand the different types of curricular, the development process and how it mainstreams PWDs;

C. Understanding how the government, private sector, and VTOs support the employment (formal and informal) of PWDs and how their finished products are marketed; and

D. Get a general understanding and sharing of experiences, challenges, and lessons on the implementation of general skills development, vocational training, and approaches of including, supporting, or mainstreaming PWDs.

III. NCDA BRIEFING AND DISCUSSION

On the onset, the undersigned welcomed the delegates to the Philippines and to NCDA. She also expressed her hope for a productive discussion/orientation and that both countries would learn from each other in terms of their respective countries’ existing policies and programs on PWDs. She also led the brief introduction among those present in the activity.

Deputy Minister Paikan and Mr. Peter Kiyonga started by saying that they have chosen the Philippines for the study trip because of their initial finding that some Asian countries like Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, and the Philippines are more advanced in implementing/promoting programs for PWDs, which was a sector that both countries give importance to.

Afterwards, the different Division Chiefs oriented the SCA-RAD delegates, which included information on:

a) NCDA’s Background and Legal Bases, Thrusts and Directions;

b) NCDA Major Programs/Projects/Activities geared towards education, skills development and training, and employment;

c) Shared documented best practices of employed PWDs.

The discussion highlighted NCDA’s collaborative efforts among its member government agencies, non-government agencies, private sectors, and the PWDs themselves which led to the formulation of laws, policies, and programs for the needs of the PWDs being addressed through various activities geared towards the betterment of their welfare.

Another focus of the discussion was on the budgetary allocations for PWD programs at the national and local levels. Deputy Minister Paikan noted that in Afghanistan, only MOLSAMD have appropriations for PWDs; however the ministry was currently negotiating with other ministries to also allot additional budget for PWDs. The undersigned highlighted the importance of horizontal (inter-agency) and vertical (national down to local levels) complementation of efforts of the government, NGOs, and even in the PWD sectors for the programs to be more successful.

Moreover, the undersigned emphasized that in the Philippines, laws such as Republic Act 7277 or “Magna Carta for Disabled Persons” prescribes for budget allocation for PWD programs (e.g. special education, public transport program, and rehabilitation centers among others) not only in the national offices but also in the local governments, and that government agencies such as NEDA ensured that all local government development plan include disability components in them. The undersigned also shared that the creation of the OPDA or PDAO (Persons with Disability Affairs Office) was done to ensure implementation of PWD laws at the local level.

Deputy Minister Paikan and Mr. Kiyonga were particularly interested on the opportunities for employment offered to the PWDs, considering the success stories of our diligent and hardworking PWDs. While employment based on computers/information technology could be explored, and was one of the areas where the PWDs in the Philippines were successful, they were keen and more interested on practical livelihood opportunities like manufacturing or agriculture. As one of our success stories was on the manufacture of useful products, particularly sturdy tables, chairs, and bags from recycled cardboards in Carmona Cavite, NCDA suggested to Deputy Minister Paikan that they send some employees to the Philippines to undergo training from our own workers. Deputy Minister Paikan was very receptive of this idea.

Deputy Minister Paikan shared to the group the difficulties they have encountered in addressing the needs of the PWDs in Afghanistan, especially as some of the PWDs themselves take advantage of the monetary assistance appropriated for them. The undersigned said that the Philippines also had its fair share of challenges when it came to implementing programs; however, she stressed the importance of having strong leadership to prevent exploitation of and among the sector.

Further, the undersigned said that while it was the responsibility of the government to ensure the welfare of the PWDs, it was also essential for the PWDs to recognize their own rights, responsibilities, and accountabilities and be empowered enough to become active partners in their own progress, not just become passive program beneficiaries. She also suggested for Afghanistan to look into funding programs and services for PWDs instead of directly disbursing money to them, and to look into which sectors (e.g. blind, deaf, etc.) among the PWDs themselves were the ones with leadership potential, the most skilled, and who have the most positive in their outlook in life, which could be considered by the government in developing the appropriate programs for them.

IV. CLOSING

The SCA-RAD delegates expressed their appreciation for the warm welcome and hospitality they have received from NCDA, as well as the fruitful discussion they have had today. Mr. Kiyonga requested a separate meeting with some members of NCDA on some of the more specific details on programs for PWDs, which NCDA agreed to accommodate.

After the briefing, the delegates were to visit the National Vocational Rehabilitation Center (NVRC) for a tour and a more practical experience on the programs and services provided to PWDs.

For the Secretary’s information, reference, and further instructions. Thank you.

PARISYA H. TARADJI

cc: Exec. Dir. CARMEN REYES-ZUBIAGA, NCDA

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