Batwa with disabilities conducted a three-day training for paralegals to promoting advocacy on human rights for historically marginalized people with disabilities in Rwanda.
The training held on 16-18 January, 2019 in Savanna Centre-Nyamata-Bugesera thanks to Disability Fund Rights financial support brought together 15 Batwa with disabilities and 5 non-Historical Marginalised People (HMP) with disabilities with the aim to link them with other disabled. It involved both men and women with disabilities from HMP communities of the Kamonyi, Gasabo and Kicukiro Districts. The main purpose of the training was to train the Batwa with disabilities to be paralegals. The participants received training in case planning, development and information-gathering.
They were also trained on how to draft case pleadings, document responses and put together their findings and on how they can undertake interviews with witnesses. During the training, the participants also benefited from sessions on safety and security measures to observe while undertaking their work ; laws and policies on land, persons and family law, succession law, and gender-based violence (GBV) law, crucial in enabling them to dive into these issues proficiently. They were also equipped with knowledge and skills on how to effectively monitor the execution of the ruling of the cases to ensure that the plaintiffs get justice.
The participants have agreed to start collecting violation cases that have been ignored by the authorities. These include cases of rape, such as that of a disabled Mutwa woman with autism spectrum disorder having been raped by three men who have never been held accountable.
Training on Climate Change and adaptation thereto
In addition to the paralegal training, the participants were also trained on climate change and adaptation thereto. The climate change session discussed two main response measures to deal with climate change which are mitigation and adaptation. The trainer discussed the global injustices concerning carbon emissions, equal rights on atmosphere and earth, equal rights to development, carbon emission compensation and the injustice between survival and indulgence. The trainer has also brought about the concepts of vulnerability in the frameworks of the natural, physical and social systems, how vulnerability varies within societies, in particular with regards to people with disabilities.
Batwa with disabilities have raised the question of being excluded from disaster management policies. Indeed, their families and they need adaptation strategies that can help to mitigate and minimize the risky effects of climate change on them and promote sustainable access to basic necessities, secure livelihoods and health care. There is no official data yet regarding the impacts of climate change on Batwa/HMP with disabilities and their needs in Rwanda. Nevertheless, the research carried out by the AIMPO in 2016-2017 on the socio-economic status of Batwa with disabilities over ten districts has provided information about the myriad problems HMP with disabilities face such as hunger and poverty which may be caused and/or aggravated by climate change.
The participants learnt the connection between climate change and disasters such as droughts and floods and how such events can be mitigated during farming session by growing improved seed varieties. They found that climate change can affect agricultural productivity by changing rainfalls, causing natural disasters such as droughts and floods, which may have impacts on safe drinking water, migration, loss of land and threaten livelihoods as well as destabilize ongoing poverty reduction efforts. The participants have been provided with examples of where the government of Rwanda is relocating people who live in high risk zones due to the fear of huge rainfalls that may cause floods. As Batwa people with disabilities who have been marginalised and excluded live in remote areas and face such issues, it was essential to discuss efforts to address these challenges.
Agricultural terminology has been introduced to the trainees. Then later on, the course continued with the point of seed multiplication where they learnt different points related to seeds multiplication such as steps and procedures of seeds multiplication, selection of the places and their measures, methods of cultivating gardens and using fertilizers, especially organic ones.
The trainees were put into two groups to discuss sub-topics and to provide answers to the following questions :
- What can we do as people with disabilities to ensure that we are included in disaster management and policies ?
- What is the impact of climate change on Batwa with disabilities ?
- Are there any policies and practices in place from the government to help people with disabilities in case there is a disaster ?
- What are the challenges people with disabilities face in disaster situations ?
- What is our role in addressing the effects of climate change on poverty ? And how can we contribute to poverty-reduction efforts ?