October 3, 2011

Former DRPI Regional Officer for Africa, Oswald Tuyizere, recently presented at a workshop on how the Government of Rwanda could create a barrier-free environment for all Rwandans, especially persons with disabilities.

Rwanda Demobilization and Reintegration Commission (RDRC) under the patronage of Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and Disability Rights Promotion International (DRPI) are working for a barrier free society for people with disabilities in order to enable them to reach their needs of social and economic participation.

The workshop was held on August 19, 2011 at the Hilltop Hotel in Kigali, where different organizations of persons with disabilities were invited to discuss how the Government of Rwanda could make the environment barrier free for all Rwandans, especially persons with disabilities.

Oswald TUYIZERE, former Regional Officer for DRPI Africa presented on the “Friendly environmental free for all”. He presented the legal frameworks in the region, in Rwanda and the monitoring mechanisms that have been put in place. He explained that DRPI’s presence in Africa is to help different organizations of persons with disabilities to advocate so that the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities can be ratified, domesticated and put into action in the lives of those living in African countries.

Other speakers:

  1. Prof. Yoshihiko Kawauki, a JICA expert in barrier-free environments and a wheelchair user, is experienced in raising awareness towards a barrier-free society in many countries. He said, “about 40 years ago I broke my leg and became paraplegic and now I use a wheelchair.” He also noted “after today’s session I realized that physical environment in Rwanda is far behind and its very necessary for the society to change their mind set and recognize people with disabilities in whatever they do, like during construction process, and they should keep in mind that even people with disabilities will use the same building.”
  2. Zinda Victor, Vice Chair of National Council of Persons with Disabilities in the city of Kigali, Kicukiro District in Niboye sector, and a student at Kigali Institute of Education has a family of three children and a wife. He attended the workshop to give a presentation. He pointed out that, “I started a cleaning company and will also start a furniture workshop. Sometimes we have challenges such as finding someone to assist in pushing our wheelchairs.” He added, “The major problem is entering into the buildings without ramps, and also roads in our residential areas are not well constructed for our wheelchairs.”

JICA in Rwanda is involved in different sectors including; agriculture, water and sanitation, education, energy and transportation. The workshop was held under the education sector.

Kobayashi Hiroyuki, JICA resident representative said that “the workshop was to share knowledge and experience about barrier free activities because most of the Rwandans with disabilities cannot find this information themselves and they could not recognize their difficulties as people with disabilities.”

The workshop included lectures, practical workshops (ACCESS AUDIT) and was held in different areas of the hotel Hilltop.