SUCCESSFUL REALIZATION OF THE PROGRAM “CITY AND DISABILITY”
With the ongoing reform of decentralization, the local self-governments have a very responsible role in the process for improvement of the current living conditions of the vulnerable groups of citizens, including the persons with disability. Decisions made by the local self-governments influence the everyday life of persons with disability. Therefore, it is of absolute importance that local authorities include the aspects of disability in their policy planning and decision-making i.e. to perceive how each decision will affect the life of persons with disability.
Having this in consideration, the Republic Center for Support of Persons with Intellectual Disability – PORAKA, in the period from September 2009 to September 2010 implemented a concrete action to develop Local Disability Action Plans in three municipalities in Republic of Macedonia: Kumanovo, Ohrid and Vinica.
The Local Disability Action Plans represent instruments for development and for implementation of the concrete steps that lead towards improvement of the condition to persons with disability on local level. These are strategic documents, consisted of the identified needs of persons with disabilities in the three municipalities, of agreed goals and priorities, as well as of actions that are accepted by the local authorities and by the organizations of persons with disability.
The Local Disability Action Plans are aimed towards promotion of the quality life for persons with disability, and they include issues that are of utmost importance for them and suggest actions that are in accordance with the local community resources.
The creation process of the Local Disability Action Plans in the three municipalities was based on the participatory principle, and the activities had been divided in several stages, where each had its own purpose and expected results.
The first and the second phase of the program “City and Disability” included preparatory activities, meetings with the Mayors of the three municipalities, creation of Working Groups for designing the Local Action Plan and signing a Memorandum for Cooperation in the realization of the entire program with the municipalities and with the local institutions and organizations of persons with disability involved in this process.
The third phase from the realization of the foreseen activities included training for the working groups regarding the preparation of the Local Action Plan by three training seminars. Through the training, the members of the working groups gained knowledge from several areas related to the rights of persons with disabilities, including:
- Local Action Plan, as an instrument for equalization of opportunities for persons with disability,
- Basic concepts (definitions, medical and social model, human rights and services),
- International and domestic legal instruments, legal frames, strategies, conditions and systems for care and protection of persons with disability,
“AGENDA 22” – instrument for creating local action plans and experiences from other countries,
- Social services and regulatory mechanisms,
- Decentralization and models of cooperation between the local self-government and the civil sector,
- Inventory of the needs and resources within the local community,
Management of project cycles and media relations.
Within the fourth phase of the program, three workshops had been held in each municipality, whereupon the members of the working groups worked directly on the creation of the Local Action Plans. The Local Action Plans were elaborated in accordance to the international document “Agenda 22”, as well as the principles enshrined in the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The priorities and the needs of persons with disabilities were looked upon at the workshops, primarily in the areas that are under jurisdiction of the local self-governments, but also in the areas that are not yet decentralized, but the local communities can contribute with its own actions and lobbying at the national government. During the elaboration of the local action plans, the members of the working groups contributed to the creation of the priorities and the activities. At the same time, the attention had been paid to making the Local Action Plans real and feasible, in accordance to the resources of the local community. For each of the activities, the goal and the tasks were defined, then the institution responsible for the implementation, the time frame and the source for financing.
The fifth phase of the Program included organized presentations with public debate for the Local Action Plans with the members of the Councils of the three municipalities and the representatives of the local institutions and organizations, where positive feedback and constructive remarks were received regarding the proposed strategic documents. During the concluding phase of the program, final workshops had been organized, where the texts of the draft-local action plans were completed, and the members of the working groups were given certificates for participation and their contribution in the realization of the entire program.
As a result of the implemented phases, the Councils of the three municipalities unanimously adopted the Local Action Plans for Improvement of the Condition for Persons wit Disability, as its own official strategic documents for development. After the adoption, the local action plans were printed and promoted on local level.
As a final activity in the program, PORAKA and Handicap International – South East Europe, on 14th September 2010 in the Hotel “Holiday INN” – Skopje, held National Promotion of the Local Action Plans for Promotion of Improvement of the Condition for Persons wit Disability in the municipalities: Kumanovo, Ohrid and Vinica.