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This year’s International Day of Persons with Disabilities on 3rd December was celebrated with the theme: “Empowering persons with disability and ensuring inclusiveness and equality.” In Zanzibar, UNFPA, the United Nations sexual and reproductive health Agency, together with the Hon. Ambassador Seif Ali Idd, the Second Vice President of the Revolutionary Government of Zanzibar, the Department of Disability Affairs, the Zanzibar National Council of People with Disabilities, and representatives from organizations of people living with disabilities (PWDs), launched the “Jumuishi” database (translated as Inclusion database), the first database of its kind in Tanzania to collect comprehensive disability data.

PWDs are among the most marginalized in society and are confronted with challenges on a daily basis.  The realization of Agenda 2030 is only possible if everyone is visible to the government and development partners, and the Agenda contains seven explicit references to disability and PWDs as a key target group in global efforts to eradicate extreme poverty, ensuring no one is left behind.

In March 2018, UNFPA and the Department of Disability Affairs held a national stakeholders consultation in Zanzibar to assess existing data gaps for PWDs and how this impacts on the government’s capacity to monitor targets for this diverse population group against the Zanzibar Strategy for Growth and Reduction of Poverty III (MKUZA III) 2016-2020, the 2030 Agenda and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

The National Register of PWDs was reviewed and the Jumuishi database was developed to increase the government’s capacity to generate more reliable and comparable disability statistics and to mainstream disability data collection into national statistics systems, harmonizing efforts with international disability measurement standards. With robust disability data, the Revolutionary Government of Zanzibar will be well placed to identify barriers that PWDs face and design programme interventions that specifically address their needs, significantly improving PWDs’ lives so that they can realize their full potential.

The Jumuishi database is just one of a number of initiatives that UNFPA is supporting in Zanzibar under the Creation of Foundations for the Inclusion of PWDs.  A Five-Year Strategic Plan for the National Council of PWDs in Zanzibar and an implementation strategy for the Policy for  PWDs in Zanzibar are in development.  To further increase the visibility of PWDs, the Department of Disability Affairs is creating a dedicated website, while a research study will look at the additional barriers that young PWDs face in accessing sexual and reproductive health information and services.