SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS AND ITS INCLUSIVENESS IN NIGERIA
Overview of the SDGs
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), also known as the Global Goals, were adopted by all United Nations Member States in 2015 as a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity by 2030.The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its 17 SDGs provide a powerful framework to guide local communities, countries and the international community toward the achievement of disability-inclusive development. The 2030 Agenda pledges to leave no one behind, including persons with disabilities and other disadvantaged groups, and has recognized disability as a cross-cutting issue, to be considered in the implementation of all of its goals. The Agenda also includes seven targets and 11 indicators explicitly making reference to persons with disabilities, covering access to education and employment, availability of schools that are sensitive to students with disabilities, inclusion and empowerment of persons with disabilities, accessible transport, accessible public and green spaces, and building the capacity of countries to disaggregate data by disability. The 2030 Agenda is therefore linked to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), and its implementation by, for, and with persons with disabilities. The commitment of Governments to disability-inclusive development has also been demonstrated in other recent development agreements, which provide further guidance in their respective areas of focus. On the African continent for instance, the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, adopted in July 2015, addressed the needs of persons with disabilities in the areas of social protection, employment, education, infrastructure, financial inclusion, technology and data. The Nigerian Disability law passed in 2018, and consequent establishment of government institution in 2020 to guarantee the full implementation of disability rights are all efforts aligned with the intent and content of the SDGs just to mention a few. Striving to achieve disability-inclusive development is not only the right thing to do, it is also the practical thing to do. Sustainable development for all can only be attained if persons with disabilities are equally included as both agents and beneficiaries as countries
strive for a sustainable future. The 2030 Agenda therefore presents an important opportunity to advance the goal of the United Nations: to promote economic and social progress and human rights toward a peaceful and prosperous world for all. Through the pledge to Leave No One Behind, countries including Nigeria have committed to fast track progress for those furthest behind first. That is why the SDGs are designed to bring the world to several life-changing ‘zeros’, including zero poverty, hunger, AIDS and discrimination against women and girls. Globally, and particularly for us in Nigeria it is our staunch belief that this bold vision of a better future can only be achieved with the full participation of everyone, including persons with disabilities. Upholding the rights and ensuring the full inclusion of the world’s 1 billion persons with disabilities, translating to about 31 million PWDs in Nigeria is not only a moral imperative, but a practical necessity. Despite the strong commitment expressed by the international community for inclusive and sustainable development, persons with disabilities continue to face significant challenges to their full participation in society, these includes, negative attitudes, stigma, discrimination and lack of accessibility in physical and virtual environments. Our shared duty is to tackle prejudice and misinformation and find new approaches and tools to work for and with persons with disabilities. This accounts for the pertinence of this presentation.
The Imperative of this presentation is to create awareness on the SDGs and find what bearing it has or has had on the lives of persons with disabilities and to be properly guided to demand rights that may accrue therefrom. Specifically, our discussion today aims to;
– Promote an active dialogue among stakeholders on the SDGs with a view to achieve disability inclusive development for the betterment of persons with disabilities.
– Create awareness on policy options, and array of opportunities available for disability inclusive development. – Build capacity for advocacy and actions towards mainstreaming disability in all spheres of policies and translation of the policies into impactful programmes, projects and benefits for PWDs.
– Serve as eye-opener for persons with disabilities themselves and OPDs to gain knowledge to exercise their rights and to better access available services and products that within the frameworks of the SDGs may benefit them. – Deepen advocacy and awareness on inclusive implementation of the SDGs in the on-going efforts towards the implementation of the Agenda 2030;
– Identify opportunities for enhanced synergies and coherence between Nigeria’s inclusive development priorities, the SDGs and other Internationally Agreed Development Goals (IADGs) for the benefit of all.
Nigeria’s commitment to the SDGs: where is the place of Disability
Since the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Nigeria as a country has demonstrated strong political commitment for national ownership and implementation of the SDGs. The Government has taken several initiatives aimed at mainstreaming the SDGs into national policy, planning, budgeting and monitoring and evaluation frameworks. Please allow me to indulge you with highlights of key policy and institutional as well as regulatory measures that have been put in place to create the necessary enabling environment for mainstreaming of the SDGs into national policies and plans as well as programmes along with the necessary coherent coordination. These highlights will enable us judge for ourselves how PWDs have fared in the scheme of things. Nigeria’s implementation efforts include, but not limited to;
i. Nigeria’s establishment of a special office on the SDGs and had it placed right within the Presidency. This special office is headed by a Senior Special Assistant to the President on the SDGs (SSAP-SDGs)charged with the onerous responsibility for inter-governmental coordination; planning; multi-stakeholders’ partnership; resource mobilization, as well as ensuring seamless and robust strategic communications and advocacy around the SDGs agenda;
ii. Thirty-six State Governments, along with the Federal Capital Territory – Abuja, have replicated the same organisational and institutional structure within their areas of jurisdiction. Furthermore, an Inter-Ministerial Committee has been put in place to serve as the nucleus and focal point for ensuring inter-agency cohesion and coordination;
iii. Government has consented to the establishment of a Presidential Council on the SDGs, to be shortly inaugurated, in order to provide the high-level political and policy guidance and leadership as well as direction and the requisite pressure that will ensure follow-up and implementation of the SDG targets and indicators in the coming months and years;
iv. Development of an ‘SDGs Transitioning Strategy and Action Plan’; the compilation of an MDGs End Point Report (2015) and the development of national SDGs indicators baselines. Other measures taken include evolving strategies for addressing the data challenges by conducting an SDGs Data Mapping and developing a Data Supply Framework and ‘Data Bond’ to be signed by all the MDAs; the integration of SDGs into Federal and State level Development Plans; the roll-out of a national advocacy programme;
v. Government have lent full support to the establishment of the Private Sector Advisory Group on the SDGs; a Development Partners’ Forum on the SDGs as well as a Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) Advisory Group on the SDGs.
vi. Scaling up the implementation of SDGs best practices (programmatic interventions) such as the Conditional Grant Scheme; revitalization and strengthening of institutional capacities for SDGs implementation; enhanced domestic resource mobilization; conducting an SDGs Needs Assessment and Policy Analysis: and establishing and /or strengthening of smart partnerships with the private sector, civil society organizations and development partners for SDGs implementation. There is the implementation of a Social Investment Programme(SIP), complete with a “National Social Register’’ for poor and vulnerable households. Through this programme, poor and vulnerable households receive a monthly conditional cash transfer of five thousand naira
vii. The Government has also scaled up the Conditional Grants Scheme (CGS) to sub-national governments to incentivize them into allocating financial resources to priority poverty reduction and social development and thus contribute to the attainment of the SDGs. Other intervention efforts are; Home-Grown School Feeding Programme (HGSFP), Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme (GEEP), N-Power Programme, the Green Alternative Agriculture Promotion Policy, 2016-2020, Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk-Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL), Rural Finance Institution Building Programme (RUFIN), Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP), Commercial Agricultural Credit Scheme (CACS), Youth Enterprise with Innovation in Nigeria (YouWiN), Youth Empowerment, Livelihood, Community Development, School subsidies/fee waivers; vocational training and public works, ‘Volunteer Corps Scheme’
viii. Government also claim that the National Poverty Eradication Programme (NAPEP) and the National Poverty Eradication Council (NAPEC) worked on several poverty initiatives in collaboration with the Gender Advocacy for Justice (GAJI II) in order to empower women, youths and the physically challenged to create own income.
ix. Nigeria launched and is implementing its Economic Recovery and Growth Plan, as part of the incorporation of SDGs into the national strategic policy frameworks. The NERGP is sustainable development strategy that is as aligned with the SDGs in both intent and content and serves as Nigeria’s National Medium-Term Plan for 2017 – 2020. The NERGP strategy was developed for restoring economic growth while also leveraging on the ingenuity and resilience of the Nigerian people. It spells out the government’s roadmap for security improvement; war against corruption as well as general economic revitalization and is a compendium to the government’s sectoral plans for agriculture and food security; energy and transport infrastructure as well as for industrialization and social investments. Moreover, the
x. NERGP consists of plans aimed at driving economic growth in order to achieve a seven percent (7%) growth rate by 2020. Quite clearly, the NERGP aims to restore sustained economic growth while promoting social inclusion and laying the foundations for long-term structural change. It focuses on providing macro-economic stability, stimulating performance in priority sectors and tackling critical constraints to long-term growth. The strategic policy objectives directly provide for the needed policy platform that should trigger supportive initiatives for achievement across the 17 SDGs.
xi. Also, Government of Nigeria has embarked on an SDGs Needs Assessment and Policy Analysis exercise which should provide the nation with much-needed baseline data and information to enable the forecast and planning for the subsequent public investments across sectors and regions and hence, more effective and efficient resource use as well as impact.
xii. Concerted efforts are been made to enhance the legislative and oversight roles of Parliamentarians on the SDGs
implementation process. In more specific terms, two select committees on SDGs have been established in the Senate and the House of Representatives. As part of the national SDGs advocacy and campaign programme, the OSSAP-SDGs has entered a partnership with the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) to train graduating youths into becoming SDGs champions in their local communities and in various areas of deployment for national service.
xiii. The government claim that The NERGP places emphasis on Vocational and Technical Education, Information and Communication, Technology, technical engineering and scientific programmes with the objective of ensuring that
youth sand people living with disabilities acquire basic skills that will be useful and applicable in the job market.
xiv. The government claim that New innovations like the ‘Unconditional Cash Transfer’ programme (UCT) provides
social security allowance for the physically disabled people and the elderly. This according to the government empowers people living with disability to earn a living and engage in vocations that will eventually get them out of poverty.
xv. Government claims that (JONAPWD and stakeholders) have facilitated the development of an inclusive education policy in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) of Nigeria, which was achieved through a collaborative process with the relevant government Agencies.
The question is, how inclusive are all these programs, what should we do as a people to ensure that policies, planning, programmes, budgets, laws and institutions of government mainstream disability at all levels?
Disability inclusive SDGs: what to do
Imagine the world in 2030, fully inclusive of persons with disabilities. Building on the principle of “leaving no one behind”, the 2030 Agenda emphasizes a holistic approach to achieving sustainable development for all. The SDGs also explicitly include disability and persons with disabilities umpteenth times. Disability is referenced in multiple parts of the SDGs, specifically in the parts related to education, growth and employment, inequality, accessibility of human settlements, as well as data collection and the monitoring of the SDGs. Although, the word “disability” is not cited directly in all goals, the goals are indeed relevant to ensure the inclusion and development of persons with disabilities. The ‘catch word’ there, is “inclusive”. The newly implemented 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development holds a deep promise for persons with disabilities everywhere.
Goals 1 and 2: Ending poverty and hunger for all persons with disabilities – Persons with disabilities are more likely to live in poverty than persons without disabilities due to barriers in society such as discrimination, limited access to education and employment and lack of inclusion in livelihood and other social programmes. National data on income poverty disaggregated by disability remain scarce, but available evidence show that the proportion of persons with disabilities living under the national or international poverty line is higher, and in Nigeria more than double, than that of persons without disabilities. While financial inclusion can help persons with disabilities out of poverty, access to financial services such as banks remains restricted by the lack of physical and virtual accessibility of these services. In Nigeria, it is true that more than 80 per cent of banks are not accessible. Social protection programmes for persons with disabilities, which can be vital in facilitating an escape from poverty, have been adopted in many countries. At least 168 countries have disability schemes that provide periodic cash benefits to persons with disabilities, while lump-sum benefits are provided in some countries. In several countries, more than 80 per cent of persons with disabilities who need welfare services cannot receive them, Nigeria has no social protection scheme dedicated to PWD.
Goal 4: Is on inclusive and equitable quality education and promotion of life-long learning opportunities for all, it focuses on eliminating gender disparities in education and ensuring equal access to all levels of education and vocational training for the vulnerable, including persons with disabilities. In addition, the proposal calls for building and upgrading education facilities that are child, disability and gender sensitive and also provide safe, non-violent, inclusive and effective learning environments for all.
Goal 8: promotes sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all, the international community aims to achieve full and productive employment and decent work for all women and men, including for persons with disabilities, and equal pay for work of equal value. To improve the employment situation of persons with disabilities, quota systems, which oblige employers to hire a certain number or percentage of persons with disabilities, have been adopted by several countries. Quotas typically range from 1 per cent to 15 per cent. The most effective quota systems include the payment of a levy by the non-complying company for every position not held by a person with disabilities. These levies typically contribute to a special fund used to finance measures promoting the employment of persons with disabilities. Some countries have also adopted employment laws and policies that ensure the right of persons with disabilities to equal employment opportunities and prohibit discrimination on the grounds of disability. In about 22 countries, national constitutions explicitly guarantee the right to work for persons with disabilities. More than 60 per cent of countries include provisions in their labour laws prohibiting discrimination in employment and guaranteeing equal pay for persons with disabilities. Moreover, some national programme provide financial support for persons with disabilities in accessing mainstream technical and vocational education and training. In Nigeria, most recent development is the Disability law that makes provision for employment quota, though we are yet to see the results.
Goal 10: strives to reduce inequality within and among countries by empowering and promoting the social, economic and political inclusion of all, including persons with disabilities. Persons with disabilities face persistent inequality in social, economic and political spheres and are disadvantaged in all areas covered by the SDGs. Although gaps between persons with and without disabilities vary among countries, in some countries the gaps reach more than 20 percentage points in income poverty, 15 percentage points in the ability to afford a meal with protein every second day, 50 percentage points in experiencing good health, in literacy rates and in employment-to population ratios. Persons with disabilities are also at a disadvantage in terms of accessing and affording essential services including water and sanitation, energy, and the Internet. Besides these gaps, persons with disabilities are underrepresented in political participation. Combating discrimination is key to reducing inequality for persons with disabilities. Discrimination is a major cause of exclusion of persons with disabilities. In some countries, more than 50 per cent of persons with disabilities have experienced discrimination. Even though most countries have ratified the CRPD, discriminatory laws and policies still exist in some countries, especially in the areas regulating the right to marry, legal capacity and political participation. According to UN report only 36 per cent of countries have no legal restrictions for persons with disabilities to marry, only 13 per cent have no restrictions to vote and only 9 per cent have no restrictions to be elected for public office. We must note that ensuring access to assistive technology is crucial to enable the independent living of persons with disabilities and their ability to fully participate in society. Efforts have been made by some countries to make this technology more available and affordable for persons with disabilities by developing national plans. However, available evidence shows that in several developing countries more than half of the persons with disabilities who need assistive products are not able to receive them, mainly because available products are inadequate, unaffordable or no transport is available to the providers of these products.
Goal 11: Works to make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe and sustainable. Transportation systems, public spaces and facilities and businesses are not always accessible for persons with disabilities. Overwhelming evidence indicate that in Nigeria more than 80 per cent of persons with disabilities find that transportation and public spaces are not accessible. Persons with disabilities also experience difficulties in accessing adequate housing. Barriers include lack of physical accessibility, discrimination, stigmatization and lack of social housing or community support. Limited access to employment can also pose challenges in securing the financial conditions to rent or finance adequate housing. As a result, a disproportionate number of persons with disabilities are homeless or are dependents. Furthermore, those who find a home may not be able to afford modifications to make their home accessible. In Nigeria, majority of persons with disabilities find their dwellings hindering. More and more countries have taken measures to improve physical accessibility in public transportation, public playgrounds, cultural facilities, and sidewalks and pedestrian crossings. Some countries also have guidelines for accessible housing. To realize this goal, Member States are called upon to provide access to safe, affordable, accessible and sustainable transport systems for all, improving road safety, notably by expanding public transport, with special attention to the needs of those in vulnerable situations, such as persons with disabilities. In addition, the proposal calls for providing universal access to safe, inclusive and accessible, green and public spaces, particularly for persons with disabilities. Goal 16: Promoting peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, providing access to justice for all and building effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels Persons with disabilities experience a heightened risk of violence, in part as a result of stigma, discrimination and exclusion from society. Evidence from five developing countries suggests that about one in five persons with disabilities has been beaten or verbally abused because of their disability. In several developed countries, persons with disabilities are more likely to live in a household or area of residence where crime, violence and vandalism are common. Persons with psychosocial disabilities experience even more violence than persons with other forms of disabilities. Likewise, women and girls with disabilities experience higher exposure to sexual violence compared to women without disabilities and men with and without disabilities. Equal recognition before the law and legal protections that guarantee the rights of persons with disabilities are fundamental for equal access to justice for all. While some countries explicitly guarantee the rights of persons with disabilities in their constitutions, some allow for exceptions. Issues that prevent persons with disabilities from accessing justice also include lack of accessibility in courts and of legal documents, and limited disability awareness among those who work in the justice system. In some countries like Nigeria more than 80 per cent of courts and police stations are not accessible and more than 90 per cent of persons with disabilities who need legal advice are not able to receive it. Public institutions need to be inclusive of persons with disabilities but, too often, are not. In some countries, more than one in ten persons with disabilities experiences discrimination in public services. Persons with disabilities tend to be underrepresented in decision-making bodies. Their participation in politics, including voting and being elected for office, is key for inclusive decision-making. However, many persons with disabilities are frequently denied their rights to political participation due to discriminatory practices that deprive them of their right to vote and to be elected for office. Public sector employment can also promote inclusive and effective institutions, and quota requirements for the employment of persons with disabilities in the public sector have been enforced in many countries. Participation of persons with disabilities is also hindered by a lack of access to information. Many countries adopt and implement freedom of information acts, which secure access by the public to data and information held by the Government. Yet, few countries have considered the needs of persons with disabilities regarding the accessibility of information in these Acts. Nigeria is a case in study. Children with disabilities are often not registered at birth because of stigma and families’ decisions to hide family members with disabilities. Although some countries have already managed to achieve similar levels of registration for children with disabilities, they still remain largely unregistered in some communities. Getting accurate number of persons with disabilities is critical to planning and development.
Goal 17: Stresses that in order to strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development, the collection of data and monitoring and accountability of the SDGs is crucial. Member States are called upon to enhance capacity-building support to developing countries, including least developed countries (LDCs) and small island developing states (SIDS), which would significantly increase the availability of high-quality, timely and reliable data that is also disaggregated by disability.
Call to action
To meet the SDGs by 2030, it is suggested that international and national development programmes will need to prioritize inclusive development. In particular, concrete action is needed to make persons with disabilities and their situations visible in policymaking and to build just and inclusive societies. This action should focus on the following four fronts.
Addressing fundamental barriers causing exclusion of persons with disabilities. The fundamental barriers causing the exclusion of persons with disabilities need to be urgently addressed: discriminatory laws and policies; lack of accessibility in physical and virtual environments; negative attitudes, stigma and discrimination; lack of access to assistive technology and to rehabilitation; and lack of measures to promote the independent living of persons with disabilities.
Mainstreaming disability in the implementation of the SDGs. Areas of particular importance for the realization of disability-inclusive development include social protection (target 1.3), education (Goal 4), employment (Goal 8) and basic services, including health-care services (Goal 3), water and sanitation (Goal 6), and energy (Goal 7). Accessible infrastructural development in urban and rural environments, public spaces and facilities (Goal 11) is also of paramount importance to the participation of persons with disabilities in all aspects of society and development. Progress in these areas can catalyse progress across all SDGs.
Investing in the monitoring and evaluation of progress towards the SDGs for persons with disabilities. The lack of data and research on the situation of persons with disabilities severely constrains the international community from monitoring the situation of children, youths and adults with disabilities. Countries should focus on establishing indicators to be collected and disseminated regularly to assess the situation of persons with disabilities and the challenges they face (such as lack of accessibility), including disability-specific indicators to capture progress in implementing policies and programmes aimed at their inclusion. Studies on the impact of policies and programmes will also be needed to guide the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for persons with disabilities, in particular to help policymakers design new policies and decide to scale up, refine or discontinue existing policies.
Strengthening the means of implementation of the SDGs for persons with disabilities: Finance, technology, capacity-building, policy and institutional coherence, and multi-stakeholder partnerships. On finance, adequate resources should be allocated to support the enforcement of laws protecting the rights of persons with disabilities; the implementation of national disability policies and plans; and the delivery of essential services to persons with disabilities. Member States, donor agencies and international organizations should regularly monitor financial commitments to include persons with disabilities. On technology, the promotion of accessible technology, following the principles of Universal Design, should be prioritized. Incentivizing research and development of assistive technology can help further accelerate the availability of these technologies.
International trade policies and agreements can also facilitate access to affordable assistive products in developing countries. Capacity-building is urgently needed for policymakers to formulate disability-inclusive laws and policies, for organizations working on programmes related to the implementation of SDGs, for service providers to increase the quantity and quality of their services for persons with disabilities, for persons with disabilities themselves to gain knowledge to exercise their rights and to better access available services and products that may benefit them, and for development and humanitarian actors on how to address the needs of persons with disabilities in humanitarian crises and disasters. To promote policy and institutional coherence, a national institutional mechanism (eg. NCPWD) promoting the rights, inclusion and well-being of persons with disabilities is critical for the effective implementation of the SDGs, as is the participation of persons with disabilities in the institutional arrangements. This institutional mechanism should also coordinate the work of the various ministries at the national level. In addition, as countries revise laws and policies to align them with the CRPD, there is a need to ensure that national legislation and development plans are coherent and that legal and policy provisions do not contradict each other. Multi-stakeholder
partnerships have an important role in the realization of the SDGs for persons with disabilities. Such partnerships may involve Member States; United Nations agencies; development, humanitarian and human rights actors; peace and security actors; local authorities and communities; the private sector; and civil society, in particular persons with disabilities and their representative organizations. These partners can collectively ensure that development activities and programmes include the perspectives and consider comprehensively the needs of persons with disabilities.
Yusuf A.M Iyodo
Disability Rights Advocate
Board member of several DPOs
Secretary, JONAPWD FCT
Director Media and Publicity, Association of Lawyers with Disabilities
Technical Assistant/Consultant to JONAPWD National