Media Release: Scottish charities aim to improve the lives of people who have a disability in Malawi

THE Scottish Government has funded a three-year project which aims to strengthen the voice of disabled people in Malawi in a bid to reduce the high levels of poverty and improve the quality of life experienced by disabled people in the country.

Says a spokesperson: “Most people in Malawi who have a disability do not have access to essential services.

“The project will see three Scottish charities coming together to lend their expertise and support to disabled peoples organisations in Malawi to help them develop advocacy and effective campaigning to enable them to speak with one voice to bring about positive change.

“With the support of the Scottish Government, CBM Scotland, ENABLE Scotland and the Mental Health Foundation Scotland aim to make huge improvement to the lives of people who have a disability and their families in Malawi.”

Disability in Malawi

The three Scottish charities will soon begin work with the Malawi umbrella group, FEDOMA (Federation of Disability Organisations in Malawi), to strengthen their ability to advocate for the rights of people who have disabilities at local and national level, and to ensure equitable access to health, education and livelihood services.

Karen Garrott, country manager for CBM in Scotland, said: “I believe that between our partners in Malawi and Scotland we have an opportunity to ensure that the voice of people who have disabilities in Malawi is heard.”

The Scottish Government has awarded £317,000 over three years for this specific project.

Strong links already exist between Scotland and Malawi.

Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary for Culture and External Affairs, said:

“Scotland has a special relationship with Malawi. Scottish-based organisations have been working for many years to improve the lives of its people, who are among the poorest in the world.

“Through our International Development Fund, the Scottish Government is proud to support CBM, Enable Scotland and the Mental Health Foundation’s important work to strengthen the voice of disabled people in Malawi, reduce the high level of poverty and make a real difference to their lives.

“Scotland takes its responsibilities to the wider world seriously. That is why I have protected Scottish Government spending on international development, helping to make a real difference to some of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people.”

Mussa Chiwaula, executive director of FEDOMA (Federation of Disability Organisations in Malawi, explains what the project will mean to people in his country, saying:

“This project will greatly assist in building the capacity of disabled people and their organisations so that their voices are heard and their issues get truly embedded amongst community and local government development activities.

“Malawi is one country that has a very sound policy framework meant to promote disability mainstreaming in all national development activities but the major challenge is that it still needs to be translated into practice so that it brings meaningful change to the lives of persons with disabilities in the country.”

Peter Scott, CEO of ENABLE Scotland, explained ENABLE Scotland’s involvement in the project, saying:

“ENABLE Scotland has had strong links with Malawi in the past, and we are therefore very pleased to be able to lend our support to disabled people and their families in Malawi once again.

“With funding from the Scottish Government, and in partnership with CBM Scotland and the Mental Health Foundation Scotland, we hope to share our experience as a membership and campaigning organisation with our partner organisations in Malawi.

“By doing so, we aim to empower disabled people and their families, and build their capacity to effect positive change.”

Speaking about the launch of the project Mike Davies OBE, head of Programme Development, CBMUK said:

“Most people who have disabilities do not have access to essential services in Malawi.

“This exciting initiative, generously funded by the Scottish Government, is expected to have a long-term positive impact on the quality of life of over 300,000 Malawians living with disability, by strengthening their ability to speak with one voice, and bring about positive change and inclusion.”

Isabella Goldie, head of Mental Health – Scotland, said:

“The Mental Health Foundation are delighted to be working in partnership with such a diverse range of partners as CBM, Enable Scotland and FEDOMA on this exciting new project.

“Stigma and discrimination limits the lives of people with mental health problems across the world and often excludes them from full civic participation.

“This project will enable us to work with FEDOMA and other disability and human rights organisations in Malawi to support people with mental health problems to have an equal voice on the issues that affect their lives.

“Working alongside wider disability organisations will also provide a vital opportunity to improve the wellbeing of people who live their lives with disabilities often in challenging circumstances by supporting them to engage with local and national democratic processes whilst also allowing us to learn from organisations and a country where the democratic processes and cultural understanding of mental health and wellbeing is very different.

“Scotland has a strong connection with Malawi and we hope that this project will mutually benefit both countries and help to create better, fairer lives for people with disabilities.”


Picture details

Caption – Karen Garrott (4th from left) – CBM UK’s country manager for Scotland, with Bixon Phiri (5th from left) who has severely neglected bilateral clubfoot. Copyright: CBM

Notes to Editors


CBM, the overseas disability charity, is an international disability and development organisation committed to improving the quality of life of people with disabilities and those at risk of disability. CBM is working in over 80 of the poorest countries in the world, reaching more than 36 million people in 2011.

* CBM supports health care for persons with disabilities, and prevention of conditions which can lead to disability.

* CBM seeks to improve access to health care, education and rehabilitation services for people with visual, hearing, physical, intellectual or psychosocial impairments.

* CBM aims to mainstream disability into all aspects of development and empower people with disabilities to take an active role in their communities through inclusion in development projects and involvement in community initiatives.

* CBM is an official partner of the World Health Organisation in a number of fields including prevention of blindness, hearing impairment and mental health.

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