Tag Archives: DPOs

The HLPF is over, now what?

The High-level Political Forum took place from 9-18 July and focused on transformation towards sustainable and resilient societies. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) under review included 6, 7, 11, 12, 15, and 17. During the second week, 46 countries presented their Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs) on SDG implementation. During these VNR presentations, persons with disabilities were included 36 times largely stemming from advocacy from various stakeholders at the global, regional, and national levels via the Stakeholder Group of Persons with Disabilities.

Alt="Our DPO partner, Mohammed Loutfy, speaking about persons with disabilities in Lebanon to Ghasan Hasbani Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Public Health of Lebanon at the HLPF"

Our DPO partner, Mohammed Loutfy, speaking about persons with disabilities to Ghasan Hasbani Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Public Health of Lebanon at the HLPF


The 36 references include references to persons with disabilities in VNR presentations, civil society presentations with questions to the government, and/or government responses to other government or civil society questions. The countries in bold are where CBM was directly or indirectly involved in advocacy. Thank you to everyone who helped in this process!




Andorra, Australia, Bahamas, Benin, Cabo Verde, Canada, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, Greece, Ireland, Jamaica, Kiribati, Lao PDR, Latvia, Lebanon, Lithuania, Mali, Malta, Mexico, Namibia, Niger, Palestine, Paraguay, Poland, Romania, Senegal, Singapore, Slovakia, Spain, Sudan, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates, Uruguay, and Vietnam.

Now that the HLPF has concluded, it is important for DPOs and advocates to follow up with their government to assess outcomes and build partnerships at the national level. Not all countries have HLPF follow-up mechanisms in place, but it is important to remind political leaders that this is not a one-time obligation, but rather that this needs to be an ongoing permanent dialogue. The national follow-up mechanism should be a constructive approach to address issues raised in the global-level review process, or issues that have been left out. The following are some key points on how to initiate and participate in a follow-up process after the HLPF at the national level:

  • Watch your country’s voluntary national review on UN Web TV and in addition analyze the submissions (short and long) written reports (in some cases the reports differ from the presentations). On the basis of the analysis, prepare an advocacy paper highlighting issues that were addressed and also those left out.
  • Find out if there is a follow-up mechanism on the HLPF planned by your government.
  • (Re)connect with mainstream civil society coalitions to collaborate and propose to the government to establish a follow-up mechanism.
  • Contact and arrange meetings with the Ministry/Minister who presented at the HLPF with your advocacy paper prepared (refer above).
  • Advocate to establish synergies with other existing national follow-up or review mechanisms, such as national consultations on the SDG implementation plan, national development plan (often linked to the SDGs), and national human rights review mechanisms.
  • Propose a partnership to your government and consider engaging with the International Disability Alliance and International Disability and Development Consortium Partnership on SDGs.

These suggestions are from the CBM and International Disability Alliance Toolkit for DPOs on the Voluntary National Reviews.

Additional Information:

Resilient societies, the SDGs, and leaving no one behind

Partnerships, CRPD, and SDGs in Central America

I was very pleased to participate in a workshop in Panama City, Panamá from 25-27 January. The workshop was organized by the International Disability Alliance (IDA) and the International Disability and Development Consortium (IDDC), and members. The focus of the technical workshop was on the monitoring of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in line with the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) for Central American organizations of persons with disabilities (DPOs). DPO representatives from various DPOs hailed from El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Panama.

I was very pleased to be a co-facilitator on behalf of CBM and IDDC with focus on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the SDGs and linked processes (e.g., Financing for Development, SDG Indicators). The other co-facilitators included Rosario Galarza (Latin-American Network of Persons with Disabilities and their Families – RIADIS), José Viera (World Blind Union), Victor Baute (RIADIS and World Federation of the Deaf) and Monica Cortez (Inclusion International), with expert contribution of Silvia Quan (former CRPD Committee member) on the CRPD, and with Tchaurea Fleury (IDA) as the team leader.

Alt="Group shot of participants in the Panama training"

Participants from the training

The overarching objective of the workshop was to examine and strengthen the linkages between the CRPD and the SDGs and support DPO representatives to compile information that will be used in SDG and CRPD national reviews. This was particularly strategic as all of the four aforementioned countries will be giving voluntary national reviews (VNRs) at the HLPF in July and three of the countries will be reviewed by the CRPD Committee in Geneva.

The training had several positive outcomes:

  • Participants further developed their knowledge on the CRPD, gained knowledge on the 2030 Agenda, and better understood the linkages between the two frameworks.
  • The space allowed for regional networking between and among different DPOs and groups of persons with disabilities.
  • The connection between national, regional, and global (human rights and SDG) processes was highlighted and strengthened.
  • Information was further disseminated to communities after the training. For example, the day after the training, Victor Baute presented on the 2030 Agenda to the Deaf Association in Panama.
  • The training was quite inclusive in terms of materials, participation, interaction, and participants (for example, participants attended from less frequently represented groups, including a self-advocate, youth, people from rural areas, and Indigenous persons with disabilities).
  • There are now various materials in Spanish related to the CRPD and the SDGs, which can be disseminated throughout the region.

I would like to express my sincere gratitude to IDA for its support and leadership, particularly Tchaurea Fleury and Mariana Sanchez, in carrying out this successful workshop.

This training exemplifies the spirit of the 2030 Agenda as the agenda is for, by, and of the people. As such, I will conclude this blog with some key words that the participants shared as their highlights from the training:

  • New connections
  • Capacity
  • Professionalism and education
  • In-depth content and information
  • United forces
  • A broader vision
  • Rights
  • Inclusion
  • Equality
  • Continued learning, teamwork, and inclusive facilitation
  • Diverse perspectives
  • Working together


Summary of the workshop in International Sign by Victor Baute (Spoken-English version*):

Summary of the workshop in International Sign by Victor Baute (Spoken-Spanish version*):

*The spoken-Spanish interpretation was done by Astrid Arias and the spoken-English interpretation was done by Elizabeth Lockwood.


Additional Information

IDA web page on the workshop

Photos from the workshop


National SDG advocacy and persons with disabilities

In March and April I was fortunate enough to travel to Africa twice to provide workshops on the 2030 Agenda and advocacy for persons with disabilities, particularly with DPOs, at the national level. I presented on behalf of CBM, International Disability and Development Consortium (IDDC), and the International Disability Alliance (IDA) using the IDA-IDDC toolkits that we jointly created.

In both workshops I presented on:

  • The 2030 Agenda and persons with disabilities in the global context
  • Partnerships and advocacy for the inclusion of persons with disabilities
  • Disability data, statistics and indicators
  • Strategies for implementing the SDGs inclusive of persons with disabilities at the national level

First I presented in Kenya to East African organizations of persons with disabilities (DPOs) and partners in the region. The conference was organized by Ecumenical Disability Advocates Network (EDAN) and Dr. Samuel Kabue, CEO of EDAN and Board member of CBM Kenya. The focus of this conference was on the inclusion of persons with disabilities in development programs in East Africa. Representatives hailed from Ethiopia, Burundi, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, South Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda. Second, I gave a training in Malawi to Disability Rights Fund (DRF) grantees made up of DPOs and disability and development partners.

Alt=" DPO leaders and partners discuss strategies to advocate national governments in East Africa"

DPO leaders and partners discuss strategies to advocate national governments in East Africa

CBM in Kenya and Malawi also participated in the respective workshops, which provided a wonderful opportunity for me to meet more colleagues and learn more about our programmatic work at the local and national levels.


Additionally, I had the true pleasure of meeting with and getting to know Deaf community leaders from Ethiopia, Burundi, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Tanzania, and South Sudan. I was particularly inspired by Atim Caroline Ogwang who is the Executive Director of South Sudan Women with Disabilities Network. In the video below she tells us her name, where she is from, and explains her work.




From engaging discussions and group work the following points emerged and are important to highlight.

Overarching messages

  • Advocacy must take place with local leaders
  • The action starts at the grassroots level and with DPOs
  • DPOs need to work together collaboratively and cohesively

Key strategies to advocate nationally for disability-inclusive SDG implementation

  • Build alliances among national DPOs and with disability and development organizations and broader civil society organizations
  • Push for disability data, particularly disaggregation of data by disability
  • Engage the media as a tool for disability awareness, dissemination of information, and advocacy
  • Build capacity for DPOs and leaders with disabilities to train the community on advocacy strategies
  • Liaise with key focal points (disability and SDG) in the government and National Statistical Offices for the inclusion of persons with disabilities
  • Find resources for support via partnerships
  • Link national plans with the SDGs (e.g., Agenda 2063 and the 2030 Agenda)
  • Use the UN CRPD as a guiding framework for SDG implementation, as well as national disability plans and laws
Alt="Engaging with DPOs and partners on advocacy strategies"

Engaging with DPOs and partners on advocacy strategies

Suggestions for IDA and IDDC at the global level

  • Produce a best practices model of a country engaging with the national government on SDG implementation
  • Provide easy-to-read, accessible, and International Sign documents on the SDGs that can be shared with all community members
  • Provide a post-review report and analysis on lessons learned on advocacy to include persons with disabilities in HLPF national voluntary reviews

Thank you to everyone for such a warm welcome and stellar learning experience. I have to give a special thanks to EDAN, DRF, and my CBM colleagues in Kenya and Malawi.

In closing, at the global level we have so much to learn from the national context, particularly from DPOs and leaders with disabilities. It is at the national level where we must focus to ensure that persons with disabilities are truly included in the implementation of the new Agenda and are once again not left behind.


Empowerment, Inclusion & Participation in Bangkok

This week in Bangkok, CBM is hosting meetings focused on disability-inclusive development (DID) and community based rehabilitation (CBR). I was kindly invited to participate and as a UN advocate, it has been an excellent learning experience and also very positive to meet more of the CBM family.

Alt="Participants presenting"

Participants presenting

Participants hail from Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East who support our advocacy, disability inclusive development and community based rehabilitation. Specifically our diverse group includes representatives from: Australia, Canada, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ecuador, Egypt, Ethiopia, France, Germany, Guatemala, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Jordan, Kenya, Madagascar, Nepal, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, the Netherlands, Palestine, Peru, Philippines, South Africa, Switzerland, Thailand, the UK, the US and Vietnam.

We are coming together in this critical juncture in the post-2015 process to highlight successes, challenges and opportunities from around the world. Our experiences draw from the experiences of our 700 partners, part of alliances with organizations of persons with disabilities (DPOs) and other development and rights organizations.

Topics of discussion have included:

  • Environmental sustainability and climate change
  • Gender and disability
  • Inclusive health
  • Working with DPOs
  • Building local networks and alliances
  • Accessibility
  • Promoting Empowerment and practicing inclusion

We are learning lessons in a rich variety of contexts and we recognize that we have many questions and are grappling with many challenges while being enriched by the diverse experience of empowerment, inclusion and participation.

Alt="Michael Mwendwa treating us with a traditional story"

Michael Mwendwa treating us with a traditional story

We look forward to tomorrow’s training day facilitated by CHANGE, an organization of persons with learning disabilities (also known as intellectual disabilities in some regions in the world) based in the UK who will be leading us through learning on how we can improve our practice and promote the rights and inclusion of people with learning disabilities.

I’ll end on a powerful quote from David Lewis’s important and timely presentation on climate change and the direct effects on persons with disabilities around the world.



“I feel very frightened going to the toilet in the bush I don’t know who may be there. Often my friend is not available to come with me. It is one of the worst parts of my life.” -a Blind woman with a disability in India