The Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation has called on people with disabilities to register at district or commune halls to receive identification cards in order to be eligible for any benefit programmes the government may enact.
The ministry said over 10,000 disabled persons had already registered to date.
The request was made at a meeting of the National Representative Disabled People’s Organisation Network on the practice on disability inclusive employment held in Phnom Penh on February 9.
The meeting was attended by representatives from relevant ministries and civil society organisations along with nearly 200 persons with disabilities.
Addressing attendees at the meeting, the ministry’s welfare for disabled people department director Yeap Malino said: “Please remind any disabled people in your commune to register through our app. The app will make a record of everyone with a disability across the country.”
According to Malino, the identification programme for people with disabilities was first implemented in 2019 in eight pilot provinces – Stung Treng, Kratie, Tbong Khmum, Kampong Cham, Kampong Thom, Siem Reap, Banteay Meanchey and Oddar Meanchey – with 14,028 disabled people successfully registered.
He said they are in the process of expanding the programme by training provincial officials in the other 17 provinces and capital.
“We will provide a disability ID to those who have registered as soon as possible. Of course, right now the disability ID doesn’t have much value, but in the future we anticipate that this card will be very valuable for persons with disabilities by helping to provide access to opportunities for greater participation in social, cultural and economic activities including employment and politics,” he said.
In addition, Malino said that in the future, those who have this card may be entitled to receive free services from the state, social support packages and possibly even exemption from some taxes.
Min Sophal, a 61-year-old disabled person from Kampong Speu province, told The Post on February 9 that the government should disseminate more information about registration for the programme as most people with disabilities have not heard about it yet.
“We’ve wanted to have this ID for a long time, since 2014. It’s been six or seven years, but this year we’ve seen some progress that we had expected. We hope to get this ID in order to receive its benefits,” she said.
Mak Monika, executive director of Cambodian Disabled People’s Organisation, said the ministry should be open to cooperation with partner organisations, provincial governors and private donors to promote the registration of persons with disabilities nationwide.
She added that people with disabilities face many problems and now, amid the Covid-19 pandemic, they are also concerned about safety and risks related to the virus and that some people with disabilities have never received government support because they do not have this ID.
“Now, Covid-19 is the new issue. It arrived while we were working on this programme. What if suddenly a disaster comes like a flood, and we must pause our work and then people with disabilities lose out on benefits they need during a crisis period,” she said.
According to Monika, approximately nine per cent of Cambodia’s total population has some type of disability, but she expects that the data collected through the ministry’s identification programme will make that estimate more precise and thereby improve government efforts at providing assistance.