The Secretary General of the Disability Action Council announced on Monday that about 10,000 disabled people are currently benefiting from the implementation of Cambodia’s National Disability Strategic Plan.
Em Chan Makara was speaking at a workshop addressing the implementation of the National Disability Strategic Plan 2019-2023.
“The situation of people with disabilities in Cambodia is improving due to the implementation of the disability strategic plan, along with the creation of many new welfare programmes,” he said.
Makara said the government set out the 2014-2018 national strategic plan to ensure inclusiveness and equality of people with disabilities, while the 2019-2023 strategic plan, now being discussed, aims to eliminate all forms of disability exploitation and discrimination, guarantee access to support, and improve quality of life.
A progress report on the implementation of the 2014-2018 national plan said that 2,839 disabled people (including 756 women) are employed across 40 ministries and state institutions.
Another 3,475 disabled people (including 1,947 women) are working in 77 private companies. A further 22,133 people with disabilities (including 8,878 women) are also enrolled in some form of education, from kindergarten to university.
But Mey Samith, the executive director of the Phnom Penh Center for Independent Living – a Cambodian charity working to empower people with disabilities – told The Post that the disabled still face obstacles in Cambodian society.
“Some state and private institutions have built slopes and lifts to improve building access for disabled people. But the slopes are often impractical, restricting us from moving around by ourselves, while most of the lifts do not have any sound to alert the blind,” he said.
Cheat Sokha, a resident of Battambang province who suffered a serious spinal injury following an artillery explosion in 1985, also attended the workshop. He told The Post that disabled people in Cambodia continue to receive fewer opportunities in education and at the workplace.
“People with disabilities receive less attention and encouragement from family and society. As a consequence, they lose the chance to receive an education or skills to improve their quality of life.
“Also, schools and educational institutions do not currently make proper allowances to accommodate disabled people either,” Cheat Sokha said.
Upon hearing the concerns of participants, Makara urged the workshop to discuss the introduction of a strategy to improve public transportation, knowledge, information and communications for the disabled.
He also urged discussion of a strategy to improve the disabled people’s legal rights, including in cases of physical abuse, human rights violations and labour exploitation, to generate points for inclusion in the National Strategic Plan 2019-2023.