National Dialogue on Disability Inclusion in Social Protection Interventions

National Dialogue on Disability Inclusion in Social Protection Interventions

On August 27, 2020, as part of the Australia-Cambodia Cooperation for Equitable Sustainable Services (ACCESS) Program, Cambodian Disabled People’s Organization (CDPO) organised a national discussion focusing on disability inclusion within social protection interventions. Participants included the Department of Welfare for Persons with Disabilities (DWPD), the Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation (MoSVY), the Department of Social Welfare, the Identification of Poor Households Program (IDPoor) of the Ministry of Planning (MoP), CDPO and Disabled People’s Organization (DPOs), as well as representatives from the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

The objective of these conversations was to identify current challenges and opportunities within disability inclusion initiatives and the overarching social protection framework in order to strengthen the engagement of DPOs in the implementation of 1) Identification of persons with disabilities and disability cash transfer; 2) IDPoor certification; and 3) Cash Transfer Programs for Poor Households with Equity Cards. Ultimately, these conversations worked to contribute to the protection and stabilisation of the livelihoods of poor and vulnerable populations during COVID-19.

Through the support of the ACCESS Program, the CDPO is working in partnership with its network of DPOs and government institutions to contribute to the implementation of the National Disability Strategic Plan (NDSP 2019-2023), specifically in the areas of disability inclusion and in building self-esteem for persons with disabilities.

Sarah Wadley, First Secretary of the Australian Embassy to Cambodia, stated “It is important to engage with and to listen to representatives of DPOs who represent the voices of persons with disabilities. They [DPOs] are well aware of the needs of their members and communities. They will be also very important stakeholders to contribute to and ensure the inclusiveness intervention of the social protection interventions.”

“Social protection is one of the priorities of the Australian Government’s assistance in Cambodia. The Government of Australia remains committed to supporting our long-standing partnerships to promote resilience within the people of Cambodia, especially the most vulnerable groups, including persons with disabilities and women affected by Gender-Based Violence,” she added.

Mr. Yeap Malyno, Director of DWPD, MoSVY expressed, “This workshop is very important as it provides an opportunity to allow implementing partners and representatives from DPO to meet, discuss, and learn about the significant social protection interventions being implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. The pandemic has had a strong impact on the social and economic conditions of the most disadvantaged segments of society, especially the poor, women, children, and persons with disabilities.”

One of the participants, Koes Davy, Director of a DPO in Ratanakiri, shared that the dialogue enabled her to learn about the significance of the government’s IDPoor Program for persons with disabilities. Since access to information is a barrier for persons with disabilities, many are unaware of the government’s IDPoor Program initiative. Ms. Davy hopes of extending knowledge and awareness of valuable social services learned through these discussions with persons with disabilities

Similarly, Sieng Sokchan, a participant from Battambang province, expressed her excitement in being able to participate in these conversations, voicing that she was able to learn from a pool of experts at the event, specifically regarding the various social protection interventions. She felt as though these interventions were important for persons with disabilities, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic as many of them lost their jobs and income.