Disability and Assistive Technology in eSwatini

eSwatini mapIn Swaziland, now officially called eSwatini, the Southern Africa Federation of the Disabled (SAFOD) works with its national affiliate, the Federation of Organisations of Disabled People in Swaziland (FODSWA), which coordinates all activities through its member DPOs in the country. According to the 2007 Population and Housing Census, the total population in Swaziland was 1, 018 449. People with disabilities were estimated at 171 347.4 , representing 16,8 per cent of the country’s population.

The most prevalent form of disability in Swaziland was seeing disabilities followed by people with other disabilities.10 Out of the 171347 people with disabilities in Swaziland, 78 083 (46 per cent) had seeing disabilities followed by a group classified as other forms of disabilities at 47 691 (28 per cent). People with hearing disabilities were 18 389 (11 per cent), while people having remembering/concentrating disabilities were 6 832 (4 per cent). People with walking/climbing disabilities were 17, 486 (10 per cent) and those with speaking disabilities were only 2 666 (2 per cent).

eSwatini signed the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) in 2007 and ratified the Convention on 24 September 2012. Swaziland has also ratified the treaty’s Optional Protocol which permits the filing of individual complaints under the treaty by its residents.

At the Southern Africa Disability Round Table Forum organized by SAFOD in South Africa, from June 20 to 23, 2017, it was noted that the issues affecting persons with disabilities were not being prioritized by the Government because of poor negative attitude of the government officials. Even the UNCRPD was not yet domesticated hence making it difficult for the movement to hold government accountable. Continuous advocacy by FODSWA was thus recommended to ensure government became disability sensitive. It was further recommended that SAFOD should be able to support in advocating for the rights of Persons with disabilities in Swaziland.

One area that SAFOD is very interested to support FODSWA in is assistive technology (AT). AT was one of the important components in the surveys on Living Conditions among People with Activity Limitations in Developing Countries so far carried out in nine of the SAFOD’s ten countries in Southern Africa. These surveys are part of SAFOD’s regional initiative to establish baseline data on living conditions among people with disabilities in Southern Africa, coordinate by the by SINTEF on behalf of the Norwegian Federation of Organizations of Disabled Persons (FFO) and SAFOD.

The findings revealed that well over one third of assistive devices were supplied by private sources. The second most common was Government service (health service and other services) with close to one fourth, while NGOs were third with 12.6 %. The category “other” most likely comprised a mix of different sources.

Concerning maintenance of the devices, the answers were grouped largely into three: Self‐repair/maintenance with approximately one third (34.4 %), no maintenance was reported by more than one fourth (27.8 %), and family members were reported by one fifth (20.7 %). Basically, this implies that for the large part, those who supply assistive devices do not maintain them, and that this is left to the individual device owner/user to sort out by him or herself.

SAFOD will continue to update this page with any new interesting information related to the AT situation in the country, or if you are a disability focused organization that has worked in eSwatini, or an independent researcher with any useful information about the AT situation the country, SAFOD would love to hear from you should you be willing to share whatever related information you may happen to possess. Please contact us here