Organisers of the Digital Training together with the representatives of the six District Unions during the Digital Skills and Advocacy Training
In many parts of the world, persons with disabilities continue to face various forms of exclusion and discrimination. Access to education, employment, and basic social services is often limited, leaving many persons with disabilities feeling marginalized and powerless. One of the key areas of exclusion is access to digital technologies, which can greatly enhance social and economic inclusion for persons with disabilities. However, due to various barriers, including lack of awareness, training, and infrastructure, many persons with disabilities are left behind in the digital age.
In Uganda, Article 21(1) of the Constitution upholds Uganda’s commitment to safeguarding equality and freedom from discrimination for all including Persons with Disabilities.
In 2020 the government of Uganda adopted its 3rd National Development Plan whose one of the key stated goals is to increase ICT penetration and use of ICT services for social and economic development.
In complementing the government of Uganda to achieve this key milestone, Unwanted Witness through its Digital Inclusion and Innovation programme has supported persons with disability groups in rural Eastern Uganda with ICT end-user services as well as ICT knowledge and skills.
Supported by the Canadian government, Unwanted Witness boarded six (6) district disability unions onto the digital space. The union serve a population of Persons with Disabilities in the Eastern region. Besides improving access and usage of ICTs by Persons with Disabilities, the initiative aims at enabling PWDs to participate fully and equally in the information society.
Persons with Disability groups received web-based platforms, social media and training on safety and management of websites, as well as desktop computers with internet subscription.
According to a 2018 report by the Uganda Communications Commission on access and usage of information and communication technologies by People with disability, only 23.1% of PWDs’ enterprises have websites, 1% have desktop computers and 31.1% have email addresses.
Collaborating with the umbrella body for PWDs, Unwanted Witness so far provided ICT tools and skills to unions in the districts of Iganga, Mbale, Mayuge, Jinja, and Kamuli.
The Director of Programs at the National Union of Disabled Persons Uganda, (NUDIPU), John Chris Nisiima affirmed the importance of the initiative and the collaboration.
In the struggle for inclusion, we entered an understanding with Unwanted Witness to implement this project of Amplified, the reasons we chose to do that are threefold; the trend of social development is going digital and Persons with Disabilities are left behind in almost all such initiatives. We had to ensure that the Persons with Disabilities get onto the digital journey to be able to compete and to live in a digital world.” Says Johnchris Nisiima
John Chris further said that they are appreciative of the Unwanted Witness team that created this project to empower Persons with Disabilities by extending the digital world.
“We want to thank the Unwanted Witness because they have provided them with computers and an internet subscription for a full year for each District Union’s Website. We expect that the District Unions could have mobilized enough resources to continue paying for the website.”John Chris Ninsiima, Director Programs, National Union of Disabled Persons in Uganda
Amplified is a project under Unwanted Witness that seeks to promote inclusiveness of civil and social rights plus fundamental liberties among the marginalized groups of people within our community like women, youth, older persons, and the wider community. The project aims at amplifying the work and voices of marginalized groups through the use of technology and digital Advocacy. The amplified project has so far covered two regions in Uganda, the first being the Rwenzori region and the second one being the Eastern region.
“Twelve organizations have benefited from the program since its initiation in 2022 and the number becomes higher when considered on an individual basis because the organizations also serve different groups of people and lead to a bigger number of beneficiaries.”Chris Kalema, the Digital Inclusion and Innovation Lead at Unwanted Witness and the Amplified Project Lead
The Amplified project has made sure that these organisations have their websites and social media platforms. As Unwanted Witness, we ensure that everyone has equal access to digital technology and opportunities.” Chris Kalema Digital and Inclusion Lead, Unwanted Witness and the Amplified Program Lead
Kaggwa Robert the Administrative Assistant of the Luuka District Union of PWDs revealed that the District Union has been having very limited knowledge of digital inclusion because it is a young union that needed knowledge on how to work digitally.
“The amplified project by Unwanted Witness has created an opportunity for us to let the world know what we are doing. Initially, we could send them to NUDIPU, our head office but the amplified has empowered us digitally.”Kaggwa Robert, Administrative Assistant of Luuka District Union of PWDs
“ Unwanted Witness has enabled us to create a website and we have an online digital presence which will increase our visibility and our level of advocacy as a District Union. “Says Juliet Mutaawe
A vibrant civil society is very critical to the promotion of civil rights and fundamental liberties. Indeed, Eastern Uganda has got several grassroots civil society and community-based organizations striving to foster inclusiveness, and civil and social rights among women, youths, older persons, faith-based groups, and the wider community. These actors interfere with community social challenges daily, document, monitor, and defend the rights of PWDs in society. However, the important work of grass-root organizations is not visible to the wider public, mainly because they are not exposed to the technology that is relevant for amplifying their work and community voices.
“Unwanted Witness has enabled us to create a website and we have an online digital presence which will increase our visibility and our level of advocacy as a District Union.Juliet Mutaawe, Jinja District Union of PWDs
The Amplified program was a great success, demonstrating the power of digital inclusion to transform lives and communities. We hope that similar programs will be replicated in other parts of the world, helping to bridge the digital divide and create a more inclusive and equitable future for all.