Disability is an evolving concept and it results from the interaction between persons with impairments and attitudinal as well as environmental barriers that hinders their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others.
Disabilities can occur at any stage in a person’s life, such as during pregnancy, delivery, infancy, childhood, youth, adulthood and old age. The major causes of disabilities include: infections, poisoning, radiation, genetic defects, accidents, violence including war, lack of oxygen during birth, harmful traditions, poverty and ignorance, lack of sufficient and balanced food, lack of social contact, and the occurrence of chronic diseases.
It is estimated that there are about 20 million Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) in Ethiopia. These fall under different categories of disabilities which include i) Sensory Impairments: deficiency or constraints in sight, hearing, smelling and/or tasting; ii) Physical Disabilities: disabilities that are related to hands, legs, chest, backbone, shoulder, bottom and the like; iii) Intellectual Disabilities (autism as well as other defects in understanding one’s environment, learning, and writing; and iv) Psychosocial Disabilities: psychosocial problems such as depression, isolation, sleeping for long hours, as well as failure to achieve personal and social goals.
Following the sweeping political and socioeconomic changes in Ethiopia which began in April 2018, there have been sporadic and recurrent conflicts maliciously instigated in several parts of the country by some covert groups who vehemently oppose to the promising reforms, contributing to a lot of property damage, deaths and physical disabilities. More alarmingly, the number of persons with physical disabilities and sensory impairments is likely to increase dramatically due to the war being waged in Northern Ethiopia. Therefore, the Disability Affairs Directorate under the Ethiopian Ministry of Women and Social Affairs strives to mobilize mobility enhancing resources from around the world! We urgently need supports in kind (particularly such mobility aids as wheelchairs, scooters, walkers, canes, and crutches) in order to positively and productively respond to the crucial needs of PWDs in Ethiopia.