Strengthening social inclusion for children with disabilities in Chobe, Botswana

Chobe District in Botswana has worked in partnership with Vänersborg municipality in Sweden to forward social inclusion of children living with disabilities. During recent years, they’ve mobilised local organisations to address social stigma and develop new ways for the youths to engage in recreational activites.

Vänersborg municipality in Sweden and Chobe District in Botswana have been collaborating through ICLD’s Municipal Partnership Programme for over 10 years. One of their projects “Social inclusion” has led to long term democratic results in both their home organisations. Five years ago, both local governments set an overall goal of becoming a model of excellence towards improving the quality of life for children living with disabilities.

The partnership’s project focused on enhancing possibilities to improve the social functioning of persons with disabilities in accordance with the declaration of human rights. Both local governments set out to create opportunities for persons with disabilities in accordance with their own needs and to be able to live a life of their own. By engaging local NGOs alongside teachers and parents, they worked strategically with motivational actions at the local level and developed access to recreational activities for children with disabilities. For instance, new pilot material has been introduced to education and information campaigns and new methods to engage the children and their families have been tested, such as “Give-it-a-try”-days.

Meeting on inclusion issues in Chobe. Photo: Joakim Nywall

The project focused on a special school, the Katchikau Special Unit School, which is now set to act as a national best practice in Botswana. The school has set out to improve the well-being of children with disabilities in the predominantly rural district in Northern Botswana, and meet their social, mental and physical needs.

“Through the partnership, both Vänersborg municipality and Chobe District have strengthened their management capacity with regard to persons with disability. We have both increased knowledge on disabilities and disabled people’s situation among staff and have strengthened advocacy measures in order to change attitudes among the public in the two municipalities towards people with disabilities.”

Anders Friden, International Coordinator in Vänersborg municipality.
Council secretary Mr Motlowenga Thuso, speech therapist Ulli Westerlund and LSS Development manager Lena Sjöström. Photo credit: Joakim Nywall
Ripple effects of the projects still being felt today in both municipalities

Since completing the project, the Chobe District project team with support from the Kgotla (Village Council) and the Xosi (Village chief) embarked on a ”Social Inclusion Road Tour” throughout the district to continue to try to break down local populations’ stigma towards people with disabilities and strengthened social inclusion throughout the district.  In turn, Vänersborg municipality has now created a new development leader role under the municipal council within the municipality to strengthen their work with inclusion and human rights with the overall goal of achieving Agenda 2030.

Want to know more?

Read about the project on Vänersborg municipality’s homepage.

If you happen to be in the neighbourhood
From 7 May – 5 June, a photo exhibition to raise the importance of disability and child rights will be held in Vänersborg municipality and will showcase some of the partnerships results. Worskhops will be offered in parallel by the municipality.

Visit the project
International partner
Chobe District Council