Data collection essential to improve lives of people with disabilities

‘Nothing about us without us’
The National Federation of People with Disabilities in Namibia (NFPDN) together with the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) hosted an event aimed at raising awareness about the importance of collecting disaggregated and gender specific data of people with disabilities.
The event included representatives from organisations championing the rights of people with disabilities, with Deputy Minister of Disability Affairs Alexia Manombe-Ncube giving the opening address.
What is disaggregated data?
Disaggregated data is data that has been divided into detailed sub-categories. This data is often broken down by region, gender and ethnicity. It can reveal inequalities that aggregated data cannot.
In this case, it brings into focus information on people with disability and builds data capacity and knowledge of people with disabilities. This will inevitably benefit people with disabilities in Namibia and their representative organizations.
As Dr John Steytler of GIZ explained during his speech, disaggregation of data is the only way in which a clear picture can be created of the number and situation of people with disabilities in Namibia. Once that is known, services delivery and targeted interventions ensure that people with disabilities can take part in every aspect of work, life and play.
Becoming an inclusive society is at the very basis of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and the principle of Leave No One Behind (LNOB). The United Nations, as well as the World Bank, have stated that high and persistent inequality is not only morally wrong but also a symptom of a broken society. It can lead to entrenched poverty, stifled growth, and social conflict.
Monitoring mechanisms
At the moment, disability is still largely absent from data collection and monitoring mechanisms in national development. The absence of this data means that policymakers are more likely to put disability aside when making decisions. Through the disaggregation of data formulation and implementation of policies that are in the best interest of persons with disabilities and who to involve in these decision-making processes becomes possible.
The spectrum of attendees at the event included stakeholder organisations that represent the disabled community, as well as policymakers and the media.
In her address, Angelique Philander, Director at the National Disability Council of Namibia (NDCN); pointed out that, “people with disabilities are strategic players for our national development”, before continuing by stating: “Therefore a well-equipped data collection system must be put in place and ensure collected data from all stakeholders to measure various levels of disability entities are included. Disaggregated data can provide a clear picture of what works and help create policies that ensure the needs of the disabled community are addressed.”
Myriad challenges face people with disabilities, for example, a lack of trained professionals, a lack of capacity, a lack of schools for children with special needs, and not enough information and data are some of the most testings.
The event created a platform to make these challenges aware to the public and ensure people with disabilities enjoy the same benefits as any other Namibian. Taking another step to make sure that Namibia Leaves No One Behind.
Deputy Minister Manombe-Ncube summed it up when she stated: “It is essential that organisations acknowledge people with disabilities so that their voices may be heard loud and clear.”