DWA Response to Accusations of Government Discrimination in 2018

The equality watchdog is examining claims that the government has discriminated against UK disabled people’s organisations (DPOs) by excluding them from the delivery of a new £29 million international development programme. Read the full story here. Below is DWA’s response.

A statement from Disability in Wales and Africa in response to the article – ‘Government discriminated against DPOs in awarding £29m development programme’ 

Disability in Wales and Africa (DWA) is an organisation which has developed from the Wales Africa initiative.  DWA wishes to encourage the greater inclusion of the UK Disability Movement, both as organisations and individuals, within the Disability and Development Sector.  To this end, it has worked with Disability Wales and Hub Cymru Africa to start a research programme to look at how and why disabled people are not more prominent within Wales Africa activities.      

DWA has a strap-line of ‘Disabled People’s Participation Should Be Expected, Not Just Accepted’. It is concerned and disappointed to read about the debate highlighted in John Pring’s Disability News Service feature ‘Government discriminated against DPOs in awarding £29m development programme’. The 6 year programme is from the UK Government’s Department for International Development (DfID) and its purpose is to support disabled people in some of the poorest countries of the world.  However, in not encouraging UK Disabled People Organisations (DPOs) to be part of the consortium DWA believes the UK Government and the Disability and Development Sector are missing out on the skills and experiences that UK disabled people can bring to the table.  For example DWA wishes promote and demonstrate the importance of global solidarity amongst disabled people.  Disabled people around the world have a common interest in monitoring the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities as well as the achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. 

DWA wishes to promote a culture, specifically here within the Wales Africa sector, the global community, and the international development movement which does not stop at saying to disabled people “you are very welcome” if they turn up.  We want people to ask, when disabled people are not present, “where are they” and how can we increase their participation?       

Paul Lindoewood


Disability in Wales and Africa

Disabled People’s Participation Should Be Expected, Not Just Accepted – Campaign

The following organisations have accepted the invitation to join in us arguing that “Disabled People’s Participation Should Be Expected, Not Just Accepted”, and have become members of DWA.

These organisations agree with, and have supported the following statement:

“To promote the inclusion and global solidarity of disabled people, for public benefit, by (a) raising awareness through the active participation within society’s development and (b) enabling the exchange of ideas, information, experiences and expertise particularly, but not exclusively, within Wales and Africa.”

Why don’t you consider joining us too? Email: dwanetwork@gmail.com to add your organisation to the page. 

Our Supporters


Call to Action for Disability-Inclusive Education and Newsletter sign-up

The failure to reach children with disabilities is one of the biggest stumbling blocks standing in the way of success for the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, which promise to ensure ‘inclusive and equitable quality education’, for all, by 2030. We are in a great position now to change the situation.

We need to get governments at all levels including development cooperation, foundations, and NGOs to increase investment in disability-inclusive education. In order to make this happen, we need to stay informed about advocacy opportunities, strategically organise ourselves and share experience about our efforts.

Please sign the Call to Action (CTA) to Invest in Disability-Inclusive Education to help to rectify this.

The EduInvest Quest newsletter, which will be launched on during the week of World Disability Day will help us stay connected, together and informed. It will also show-case good practices of those answering our call to make inclusive education for children with disabilities a priority. 

Would you like to keep in touch and get more tools and information to bolster your advocacy on international, national and local levels? Simply register by clicking on here.

Half Marathon in a Powered Wheelchair

Half Marathon - the home straight 2On Sunday October 2nd, after overcoming a variety of challenges, Paul Lindoewood completed the Cardiff Half Marathon course, using two powered wheelchairs, in 3 hours 36 minutes (and 1 second).  He had hoped, at best, to take 3 hours 45 minutes and expected it would be 4 hours.  The time included a ‘pit-stop’ for changing chairs.

The challenge was undertaken as an awareness-, and fund-, raiser for Disability in Wales and Africa (DWA).  The focus was on DWA’s initiative, ‘Nothing About Us Without Us’.  This aims to encourage Welsh development organisations working in Africa to engage with Disabled People’s Organisations.  As part of this process, DWA also wants to encourage the same Welsh organisations to involve disabled people in Wales in their work. Paul believes that, in both Wales and Africa, nothing substantial will change in the lives of disabled people, unless their Disability Movements become a driving force.

The first challenge Paul faced in entering the race was getting his potential registration accepted.  He says “a powered wheelchair user entering the Cardiff Half Marathon was, at best, unusual and I would like to thank the organisers for accepting my application, on this occasion, and providing advice and assistance”.

However, there were many other hurdles to be negotiated before getting to the start line.  These included the bearings failing on a front castor a week before the event  and fitting the boards on the wheelchairs displaying a revised slogan ‘Disabled People Say – “‘Nothing About Us Without Us”.  This was printed in 6 languages – English, Welsh, Swahili (East Africa), Bemba (Zambia), Shoma (Southern Africa) and Hausa (Nigeria and Western Africa).  Anther, longer standing challenge, was a faulty battery gauge, which reads zero long before the battery is dead.

Paul reflects “success in the race relied on reaching the Roath for my “pit stop” for the chair changeover.  All my calculations for the race plan were thrown out at the beginning of the race, as I had to weave my way though the very intense spectator crowd, for 20 minutes, to get  to my starting station and then spend another 15 minutes in an even more intense crowd of runners getting to the start line. The best way to drain the battery is to constantly start and stop the chair.   I had originally expected a far shorter run to the wheelchair starting point.” He knew he could get 8.4 miles from his first chair, around the hills of Llangynidr but he just had to hope that the flatter course in Cardiff would allow him to go further. He had to reach his second chair – it was not going to come to him.

Although his first chair was still going strong, Paul was relieved to see his second chair as he approached the Roath.  “This was when I started to believe everything was finally coming together” says Paul.  “The event was an experience that I thoroughly enjoyed.  The encouragement from the spectators and fellow participants was terrific.  I remember one participant spending two or three seconds working out how to give me a right hand high-five without my having to take my hand off the joystick (?).  Another time a young boy offered a high-five, so I offered my foot (!?!)”

Thanks to the generous donations from many supporters, the DWA Nothing About Us Without Us initiative is firmly established but you can still donate to the Crowd-funding page by going to https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/paul-lindoewood .

If you would like to know more about the work of Disability in Wales and Africa please contact drtc@phonecoop.coop or visit the website, www.dwanetwork.org  .






Nothing About Us Without Us – The Cardiff Half Marathon and a Powered Wheelchair

IMG_20160728_151240952On the 2nd October 2016 Paul Lindoewood, the Coordinator of Disability in Wales and Africa (DWA), is aiming to do the Cardiff Half Marathon.  He will be using 2 powered wheelchairs to complete the 13.1 mile course.

He is kick-starting a new fund aimed at supporting Disabled People’s Organisations in Africa, via Welsh partners.   Examples of Welsh partners are Newport-based ResponsABLE assistance and Brecon Molo, who both work in Kenya.  Further examples are Health Help International, also from Newport, who work in Zambia, and Machynlleth-based Hazina, who work in Tanzania.

Paul, who, in addition to being a full-time wheelchair user with limited dexterity and communication impairments, is married with a family and lives in Llangynidr, near Crickhowell.  Between 1996 and 2005 Paul worked in Kenya with the Methodist Church as a Disability Community Worker.   After returning to the UK, and then moving to Wales, Paul set up Disability in Wales and Africa in 2010.  This was with the aim of raising the profile of the needs of disabled people and their families within the Wales Africa Sector – a growing group of more than 140 Welsh organisations who have a focus on development and connections with African partners.

The work of Wales Africa has increasingly taken disability to its heart and many partners are looking for ways of moving this forward.  DWA believes that the next challenge is to encourage their development programmes to engage with Disabled People’s Organisations (DPOs).  Paul says “the last 40 years have shown that, in both Wales and Africa, nothing substantial will change in the lives of disabled people, unless their Disability Movements are empowered to become a driving force.”

As a result of this, DWA wants to develop a fund, under the slogan ‘Nothing About Us Without Us’, with the aim of encouraging Welsh development organisations to engage with African DPOs, identifying them as partners within the development process. “There is a wealth of experience, knowledge and skills within the disabled communities of both Wales and Africa” Paul says. “Very often we end up doing things ‘for’ rather than ‘with’ disabled people.  This is an issue in both Wales and Africa and one of the aspirations of DWA is global solidarity between disabled people”.

If you want to find out more about DWA please contact Paul Lindoewood on drtc@phonecoop.coop, or telephone 01874 730900, mobile 07983 593199.  Additionally if you would like to support this initiative please go to Paul’s Crowd Funding Page

DWA gets Wales Africa Award!

Africa Gold Star Awards 2014

Almost 30 organisations and ten individuals from across Wales were recognised by Wales Council for Voluntary Action (WCVA) for their work on tackling poverty in 13 African nations at a celebratory event at the Senedd in Cardiff Bay on 4 December.

Disability in Wales and Africa was awarded a learning link award for the work we have been doing with our partners to successfully advocate and campaign for disability to become an integral part of the Wales Africa sector.

Africa Gold Star Awards 2014Africa Gold Star Awards 2014

The DWA coordinator, Paul Lindoewood, was also presented with an individual award for his personal contribution to the disability and inclusion agenda within the Wales Africa sector.

Africa Gold Star Awards 2014

Carwyn Jones AM, First Minister of Wales addressed the ceremony and gave the Welsh Government’s commitment to support Welsh organisations in fighting global injustice and poverty into the future.

Our organisation is part of the country wide Wales Africa network that involves over 150 voluntary organisations and several thousand volunteers, who work with partners in Sub-Saharan Africa to address a variety of challenges including, health, education, environmental degradation and the rights for marginalised people.

Carwyn Jones AM, First Minister of Wales said
“I am deeply proud of what we have achieved through our Wales Africa Community Links programme. None of this would have been possible without the tireless work of the organisations and individuals who have been involved.

“These awards recognise the lengths they have gone to improve the lives of people in both Sub Saharan Africa and Wales.

“This was a chance for us to come together and celebrate the success that they have built over the past 6 years and re-affirm our commitment to fighting global injustice and poverty.”

These awards are the culmination of over six years of support that has been provided by the WCVA’s Wales Africa Community Links programme, which has supported over 150 organisations to deliver around 350 projects across 25 Africa Nations. This year’s awards will also include awardees that have been supported by the Wales International Development Hub, Wales for Africa Health Links Network, Fair Trade Wales and the Sub-Saharan Advisory Panel.

Paul Lindoewood, DWA coordinator said

“Disability in Wales and Africa is delighted to be recognised through these awards. We are not a Link in ourselves, but rather seek to be a catalyst to enable Community and other Links to include disability as part of their work . These awards are a recognition of the work DWA has done in raising awareness of disability issues within the Wales Africa sector. They are also an important milestone in the development of this agenda within Wales and encourage Links to include the needs of disabled people within their activities.”

“It is estimated that 15% of the global population experience disability in some way. The current challenge for groups working in the Wales Africa sector, is not just to mainstream disability work, but also to ensure that whatever initiative they are involved in includes the needs of disabled people.”

“Disabled people are part of every community and they need to be involved in every development initiative.”

We are incredibly grateful to Craig Redmond, a photojournalism student at the University of South Wales, for photographing the awards ceremony for us.

DWA Meets Amadou and Mariam


Amadou and Mariam are no strangers to Wales, performing at the 2013 Hay Festival.  Their career, to date, has included appearances at Glastonbury and the opening ceremony of South Africa’s 2010 World Cup.  Their diary has them regularly travelling between Europe and the Americas. All this means that Amadou and Mariam can claim to be a successful African export.  With beginnings in Mali, it may understandably be assumed that a key interest of theirs will be in Hay Timbuktu activities.  However, it was their direct experience of disability from a West African perspective, added to how it influences their music, which was of most interest during the meeting.

So how did the “blind couple from Mali” emerge from one of the poorest countries in the world to become one of the biggest acts on the international music scene?  What obstacles have they faced as they have climbed the greasy pole from the poverty and need of Mali to the relative affluence of the music industry?  Finally, what does their experience have to teach Disability in Wales and Africa as well as the wider Wales Africa sector?  I went behind the main stage, at the Greenbelt Festival, to try and find some answers.

The story of the duo goes back to the Bamako Institute for the Young Blind in 1975, where they first met.  It was early days for the Institute and there were only five students being trained.  Things were clearly hard for blind and other disabled people, with severe poverty and negative views as to what could be achieved.  Indeed, within the Institute, students were given a choice of carpentry training for men and the dyeing of clothes if you were a woman – an interesting choice given the nature of people’s impairments! 

Amadou and Mariam decided that their skills lay outside these expected norms and decided to focus on music.  It was music that brought them together and allowed them to travel and give concerts. It was through music that they were able to give the message that people with disabilities have real contributions to make to their communities and society in general.  It was their music that allowed them to present people with disabilities in a positive way to the public.

It is worth noting that when asked how difficult it had been for them, as blind musicians, to perform on the West African and world stage, they did not identify a significant problem through their visual impairments.  However, had they not chosen music; life would have been rather different.  Music had not only helped them, but also assisted other blind people to move forward, communicate their ideas and, in some situations, make a living.  It has also been shown to be a regular mechanism for social change.  Being globe-trotting superstars may not be everyone’s realistic aspiration.  Nevertheless, developing the skills you have, rather than those that other people think you should have, is crucial when combating the negative attitudes which many disabled people face. 

An important aspect of the Amadou and Mariam message is to assist their audience to understand what it is like to be blind.  Although it was not possible to do this at Greenbelt, as they performed on an open-air stage, they have been known to turn the lights off during their act.  This, they said, enables some understanding of blindness.  It encourages people to adopt different terms of reference with the world around them, and consequently engage with their music in alternative ways.  Mariam explained that “the concert in the dark is a way of achieving equality with the audience who are enabled to understand our feelings”. 

This part of their act is known as “Eclipse”.  It is named after a mixed sighted and visually impaired band they played with as students.  However, it has a second important purpose in that it can introduce outsiders to the smells and sounds of Mali, for example, mosquito spray and the bustle of the marketplace, both particularly strong at night.  How might these compare with Cardiff, Swansea, Wrexham, or rural mid-Wales?

Amadou and Mariam describe their music as African but influenced by Blues and Rock.  This mixture has been developed to enable their appeal to a wider audience.  Some people may enjoy the rhythm, others the guitar work, and still more the West African tradition of dance and drums.  All of these came over clearly during their act.  However, music is not just for entertainment; it is about communicating the realities of life and so it has become crucial for Amadou and Mariam to tell stories from Mali and Africa.  Stories so often not told by the media of the North.

I was able to discuss with them a little of how we in Wales could support disabled people in Mali and Africa in general.  A key aspect of their response was the empowerment of disabled people by developing self-confidence and providing resources, which enable them to achieve their potential.  This development, of course, must spread out into the wider community.  The community needs to learn about the potential of disabled people.  They need to understand the barriers disabled people face when trying to participate in community life.  If they do not know where the barriers are, how can they be expected to remove them? 

Every year Amadou and Mariam organise a festival to link Paris with the Bamako Institute.  It raises money to enable disabled people to establish what they are capable of and to move nearer to fulfilling their potential.  They asked people in Wales to establish similar Links with Bamako, providing both resources and moral support.  This support will assist the Institute as it works with, not only visually impaired individuals and their families but the whole community; attempting to develop a more inclusive society. 

What struck me about our discussion, and their act which followed, was that there was no attempt to hide Amadou and Mariam’s blindness.  It was there for everyone to note, down to the guides who helped them on and off the stage.  Also, the act came over as authentically African.  Although they utilised some characteristics of Afro-American music, their identity and their roots are clearly in West Africa.  So often a regular view of disabled people is that they can be accepted if they become a little more “able-bodied”.  Likewise, do we sometimes perceive Wales Africa as a mechanism to move the latter nearer to the former?  It is interesting, and maybe a little disconcerting for some, that Amadou and Mariam’s success, as disabled people, has been based on them developing and adopting their own agenda.  They chose music, rather than carpentry or clothes dyeing as their route, despite what the status quo said.  In their case, this has led them to international fame.

It rained during the Amadou and Mariam act.  The rain had been expected between 3 and 6 pm.  It came between 9 and 10.30 pm.  This did not seem to dampen the spirits of the people who came to experience an act full of rhythm, dancing, and passion.  It is sometimes said that music communicates where other languages fail.  This certainly seemed to be the case here, despite my inability to speak French.

DWA Photo Exhibition

dwa eis

The DWA photo exhibition recently had an outing to the National Eisteddfod of Wales, which was held in Llanelli. If you were unable to attend the Eisteddfod and missed the opportunity to see the exhibition, do not fear! It’s now available to view online here.

The display was launched last year by Rebecca Evans AM on December 3rd at the Pierhead, Cardiff Bay, to celebrate the United Nations International Day of Persons with Disabilities. Following this successful launch we have decided to make the photos accessible to the public electronically and free of charge.

The exhibition is the result of a DWA initiative where disposable cameras were sent to individuals of all ages with disabilities throughout Wales, and in African countries with which DWA has connections, including Kenya.The photos are a response to the questions “what does disability mean to you?” and “does disability impact on your life?” Unsurprisingly, the photos we got back were hugely diverse and individual. We would love to hear your thoughts and interpretations of the display.

DWA is delighted to be able to share the photo exhibition with you electronically. However, there is a portable display which is available for meetings or other events. If you would like more information about the exhibition or to find out about where it is going next, please contact: Trevor Palmer, Tel 01633216644, email tpglobe@lineone.net

Educating Wales and Africa on Disability


Educating Wales and Africa on Disability

This year the Global Campaign for Education (GCE) 2014 focuses on the needs of disabled children and is being supported by Disability in Wales and Africa (DWA), an initiative which encourages Links between Wales and Africa to include disability issues.

Each year the Global Campaign for Education adopts a theme and in 2014 it is Equal Right, Equal Opportunity: Education and Disability. Between May 4th and 10th many thousands of schools, in over 90 countries, will take part during Global Action Week. DWA is keen to mobilise schools and other interested people in Wales to raise the profile of this often forgotten aspect of international development.

In most low and middle income countries, children living with disabilities are more likely to be out of school than any other group. Even if they attend school, disabled children are often less likely to receive the support they need and, therefore, more likely to drop out early. According to the GCE, despite the Millennium Development Goal of Universal Primary Education by 2015, 57 million children still don’t attend school. Of this group it is estimated that 24 million experience disability. African countries are particularly badly affected by this trend.

DWA has a vision of a world where disabled people are full, equal, and participatory members of society. Access to education plays a key role in enabling this vision to be fulfilled. Lack of education means very limited opportunity in employment, or income generation and consequently less likelihood for social inclusion.

Paul Lindoewood, Coordinator of DWA, believes Wales has a golden opportunity next week to make a statement about education and disabled children. “Universal Primary Education will never be achieved until we include disabled children. All too often children who experience disability are out of sight, out of mind and left behind. We need your help to ensure that the resources, ideas, and interest are developed so that such children are able to attend school, with their friends, and are not left at home”. For more information as to what you, or your school, can do visit the website http://www.sendmyfriend.org/take-action/order-teaching-pack/

GCE and DWA are asking as many of us as possible to say to world leaders that they “Send ALL My Friends To School”. Last year DWA organised a ride around Lake Vyrnwy in which 25 riders from four Links took part and raised around £1,000 to “Get Disabled Children to School” in Africa. This year we hope to organise a similar event. However, during the summer term, we want to see every MP and other influential persons being contacted to make them aware of the need and their responsibilities.

For further information please contact:

Paul Lindoewood – Email dwanetwork@gmail.com