UNICEF Zimbabwe works towards improving and maintaining the rights of children with disabilities on the understanding that they have the same rights as any other child, with dreams and desires to fulfil.
In Zimbabwe, there are no current and definite comprehensive incidence and prevalence statistics of Children with Disabilities (CwDs) at the moment. Planning for services without more current trends for children with disabilities is therefore a major challenge, compounded further by poor systems of routine data collection and management on the number of children receiving services.
According to Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education Annual Statistics Report 2014 the prevalence of in-school children with impairments was 34,734. This figure increased to 52,232 in 2016 representing percentage increase of around 50%.
Children with disabilities are often excluded from opportunities to participate fully in their communities, and are more vulnerable to violence and abuse.
Because of more than two decades of socioeconomic challenges, many children living with disabilities in Zimbabwe are among the most marginalized and excluded groups of children. Compared to their peers, CwDs largely due to systems and environmental barriers including stigma and discrimination, are often excluded from the mainstream health, education, legal support and other social services.
UNICEF Zimbabwe Country Office (CO) is committed to promoting equality of access and opportunity to all children. After wide consultations with various partners, the CO has formulated a Disability Strategy 2018-2020 whose mandate is to achieve equality, dignity and equal opportunities for children with disabilities in specific areas of CO programming. This requires ensuring best interest of the child, independence, freedom of choice, full and active participation in all areas of life and society.
This Strategy defines disability in line with the UNCRPD and the Zimbabwe Disabled Persons Act Chapter 17:01 Acts 5/1992,6/2000,22/2001 which view disability as a human rights and developmental issue.
UNICEF is committed to disability-inclusive sustainable development as illustrated by its global approach to disability which focuses on mainstreaming/integration; developing leadership on CwDs and creating an inclusive organisation for ALL.
Priority themes for UNICEF Zimbabwe CO
- Disability Prevention
- Early Detection and Intervention
- Inclusive Access for Optimal Development
- Protection, Safety and Resilience
- Leadership, Policy and Resources
UNICEF’s mandate for children covers the rights of children and adolescents up to the age of 18.
Thus, the target population for this strategy are children up-to the age of 18 years. Targeted interventions will build on the Life-Cycle-Approach which involves considering all stages of life of a child from conception to childhood to adolescence where disability or impairment occurs or is likely to occur that makes the child vulnerable and disadvantaged requiring prevention, early detection, to treatment, care, assistance, inclusion and protection.
Prevention of childhood disability will target mainly conception to birth and early identification and intervention will focus mainly on 0-4 years while inclusive access for optimal development and protection, safety and resilience will target 5-18 years.
Global Context of Disability
People with disabilities make up around 15 percent of the global population, which is about one billion persons. This proportion is higher in developing countries, largely due to the cyclical relationship between disability and poverty. According to the 2013 National Survey on Living Conditions among Persons with Disabilities in Zimbabwe the prevalence of disability in the country is estimated to be 7%, amounting to approximately 914 287 persons based on the total Zimbabwe population of 13 061 239 (Zimbabwe 2012 Population Census).
Estimates suggest that there are at least 93 million children with disabilities in the world, but numbers could be much higher. Fewer countries have reliable aggregate information on how many of their citizens are children with disabilities, what disabilities they have or how these disabilities affect their lives.