By Peter Tah
Socio Economic Empowerment of Persons with Disability (SEEPD) programme of the Cameroon Baptist Convention Health Services (CBCHS) has been praised for championing disability inclusion in the Northwest Region of Cameroon. The commendation was made by the Senior Advisor – Programme Quality of CBM Australia, Julie Smith who led a team of four evaluators from Cameroon to evaluate the SEEPD phase three from January 25 – February 5, 2018.
Julie Smith was speaking at an event organised to present the evaluation results on February 6, 2018 at the Baptist Centre in Bamenda to SEEPD stakeholders including government officials from the Ministries of Secondary and Basic Education and Social Affairs, Municipal Council authorities and other SEEPD partner organisations including the media in the Northwest Region.
She said as a result of the work done by the SEEPD programme and partner organisations, “We now have children with disability in schools and so many people who did not have access to health care now with access to health care or assistive devices like wheelchairs and mobility aides”.
She equally observed that some Councils and Parent Teacher Associations in schools are doing a whole lot of work to try and think about how we change attitudes and make sure that our institutions are disability friendly.
Julie Smith who was impressed with the results SEEPD has achieved for its three implementation phases since 2009, pledged the continuous support of CBM Australia and CBM Cameroon to the programme.
The evaluation methodology consisted in organising mini-workshops, focus group discussions, in-depth interviews and personal observations with over 200 SEEPD programme stakeholders on Medical, Education, Livelihood, Community Components, Gender and Child Protection as cross-cutting issues.
The Director of Cameroon Baptist Convention Health Services, Prof Tih Pius Muffih appreciated the CBM-led evaluation team for the comprehensive work, stating that the inclusive report, which emphasizes on what worked or did not work well, will guide the CBCHS to perform better in the future. Prof Tih also appreciated the stakeholders for ensuring the success of SEEPD especially Municipal Councils and traditional rulers for embracing the programme wholeheartedly. Above all, he lauded the SEEPD staff for working very hard to reach programme targets.
According to SEEPD Manager, Mr. Awa Chirac, the evaluation served as an opportunity for the programme team involved in its daily implementation to look closely at the level of their engagements, what the implications of their actions are and what the effects have been on the wider population. In presenting the general overview of the programme, he said SEEPD is not a programme only for persons with disability. “There are huge consequences as well for those at risk of acquiring the condition,” he noted while pointing out that over 600,000 people had accessed medical care to prevent and treat or rehabilitate disability in the Northwest Region.
He revealed that the disability prevalence rate in the Northwest Region stands at 10.5 per cent up from 6.7 per cent two years ago and reiterated the SEEPD programme’s commitment to contain the growth of disability prevalence rate in the region. He expressed the need for local government administrators to adopt inclusive local governance as the way to go within the context of decentralisation in Cameroon.
CBM West and Central Africa Office was represented at the presentation of evaluation results by its Director, Mr. Mue Peter, who said they are thrilled at the fact that disability work in the Northwest Region is no longer the sole concern of the CBM. He expressed satisfaction at the level of involvement by so many organisations and stakeholders who now talk and practice disability in the region.
The evaluators have encouraged the SEEPD programme to bring onboard many more development actors especially cultural associations whose involvement, it was noticed, had been very timid.
Good practices identified through the evaluation exercise are expected to be developed further, shared and replicated with other development stakeholders involved in the promotion of community based inclusive development in Cameroon and in other developing countries.