African Union of the Blind
The African Union of the Blind (AFUB) is a continental non-governmental organisation (NGO) of national organisations/ associations of and for blind and partially sighted people in Africa. We were established in October 1987, in Tunis, Tunisia, under the auspices of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) now African Union (AU).
- AFUB is the only platform for exchange of information, experiences and aspirations on blindness among national Blind Persons Organizations (BPOs). We were uniquely established by the BPOs in 1987 to play this role and no other organization has been created since then. We have had 7 General Assemblies (GAs) and the BPOs use this platform to exercise their democratic space in the Union.
- AFUB is a collective voice on the blindness agenda at the Africa Union (AU). We were established through a resolution of the AU and granted observer status to represent blind persons. No other regional Organisation that possesses this kind of status to represent blind and partially sighted persons at the AU and continental level.
- AFUB is a regional block and representative to the World Blind Union (WBU). WBU is organized in regions and AFUB stands uniquely as the African voice. Consequently, we bring the African agenda to the WBU.
- AFUB has the mandate to operate in all over Africa. By virtue of our membership in all 53 counties in the continent, we are free to operate and collaborate with our member organizations (MOs); BPOs as well as collaborate with their collaborators.
- AFUB is a bonafide representative and spokesperson of blind and partially sighted people in Africa at the international arena. As the collective voice established by the consumer organizations; BPOs, we have been given a collective mandate to speak and negotiate on their behalf.
Our Achievements since 1987 until Now
- Establishment of additional 30 national BPOS in Africa: from the initial 23 members in 1987, AFUB established 30 others. Our current numerical strength stands at 53 out of 54 African states. BPOs are outstanding entities with a collective mandate to represent blind and partially sighted persons at national level. We built their capacity of to engage with their national governments to advocate for inclusive policies and programs for blind and partially sighted persons.
- As a result of our work in Namibia, the Namibia Association of the Blind (NAB) in the country in 2015 secured a desk at the office of the Vice President where issues of blind and partially sighted persons are channeled.
- Through AFUB’s initiatives in education in 2013 – 2015, we supported the Ghana Blind Union (GBU) to spearhead the process of development the country’s policy on inclusive education policy.
- Consistent and successful advocacy at the AU: over the years, AFUB has been influencing policies and resolutions of the AU.
- Informed by the 1993 United Nations (UN) Standard Rules on Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities, AFUB was at the forefront in the NGO community in Africa to agitate for the African Decade of Disabled People (ADDP) to further the equalization of opportunities of persons with disabilities in Africa. The 2000 – 2009 ADDP was adopted by the AU (then Organization of African Unity) in 1999.
- Since 2013, we have been working with the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights (ACHPR) to develop the Disability Protocol which is at the AU level waiting for adoption.
- We influenced the design of resolution 305 – ACHPR/ Res. 305 (EXT. OS/XVIII) 2015, which calls for all the AU and its blocks to make their work accessible to persons with disabilities.
- Empowering blind women and youth. We build the capacity of women and youth as self-advocates and to exercise self-determination and self-representation.
- From 2005 to 2010 we conducted the Knowledge on Democracy and Development Project, KDDP where over 50 youth with visual impairment across the continent were empowered with knowledge on the Convention on the Rights for Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) and strategies on advocating for CRPD’s implementation.
- Since 2005, through the project dubbed Equally Empowered, AFUB has trained over 260 women leaders together with the AFUB Women’s Committee members in 15 member organizations: Ethiopia, Ghana, Malawi, Rwanda, and Zimbabwe in 2005, Eritrea, Uganda, South Africa and Swaziland in 2006, Benin and Namibia in 2007, Kenya and Nigeria in 2008, and Burkina Faso in 2009.
- From 2009 – 2015, AFUB through its educational initiatives has been able to build the capacity of over 1,100 youth and women in inclusive education for blind and partially sighted persons across 15 countries. We have been able to influence inclusion of disability in education sector Plans and strategies in Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi and Mali.
- International advocacy on blindness and disability issues: AFUB as a collective voice for blind persons at the international level.
- At the Africa region level and in countries, AFUB and member organizations were key participants in working groups that influenced the design of Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD in 2001 – 20016).
- In 2013, we worked with international partners and networks to develop the Marrakesh Treaty, which aims at making published works accessible to blind and partially sighted persons or otherwise persons with print disability.
- From 2012 to 2015, AFUB was instrumental in the development of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs – the 2030 Development Agenda, which at large has included goals and indicators for persons with disabilities.
- Through our involvement in WBU working committees we have contributed to the submission of position papers and statements on silent cars, guide dogs, and low vision intervention for the elderly.
- Facilitating access through inclusive services for blind people at the national level. Working with MOs, we have designed and implemented programs to facilitate access to inclusive services; HIV/AIDS, reproductive health, education and Braille literacy.
- Notably, in 2005 – 2010, AFUB conducted HIV&AIDS awareness and training programmes targeting visually impaired persons in 14 countries in order for blind and partially sighted persons to have easy access to HIV information and services. From the initiatives, 386 visually impaired men and women were trained as Peer Educators (231 women & 155 men). The 386 Peer Educators managed to reach over 15,000 blind women and men in their communities. Additionally, 2,500 sighted persons and 569 people with other disabilities also benefited from the training activities at community level.
- Strengthening the advocacy capacity of MO. We have worked with our member organizations to sharpen their advocacy skills at the national level to advocate for their members at the grassroots.
- Since 2011, we have been able to support Uganda National Association of the Blind (UNAB), Kenya Union of the Blind (KUB) and Ghana Blind Union (GBU) to participate in the CRPD shadow reporting.
- Through our various Human rights initiatives, we have been able to strengthen the advocacy skills of more than 25 of our member organizations to advocate for the ratification of the CRPD in their respective countries. We share the success of
- We have strengthened the ability of blind and partially sighted persons in Ghana to freely and equally participate in governance processes in the country. Our members in Ghana can now vote independently through the use of a designed tactile jacket that was adopted by the electoral commission in Ghana. The successes and lessons learnt from the inclusive elections have been shared with our members in other countries for lobbying to their government for application of the same.
- Generating evidence for intervention on Human rights: AFUB has conducted a number of studies into Human Rights situations in Africa and has generated evidence to support its advocacy work.
- In 2007 for instance, AFUB collaborated with the University of Nairobi, University of York and Disability Rights Promotion International (DRPI) to investigate the human rights situations in Kenya and Cameroon. The study revealed gross violation of human rights involving blind and partially sighted persons in Africa.
- In 2009 AFUB carried out a follow up study on monitoring the state of the rights of persons with disabilities in Africa which also revealed existing and continued neglect, mistreatment, discrimination and exclusion of persons with disabilities in the national development agenda.
- In 2015 as well, AFUB conducted studies in various African countries on the impact of AFUB’s work among MOs. The study exposed that work done with MOs through AFUB has influenced development of policies and legislation that have to some extent included accessibility concerns of the blind and partially sighted.