Disability in South Sudan

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Helpdesk Query:

What are the experiences of people with disabilities living in South Sudan (covering their prevalence, attitudes towards them, the barriers and challenges they face, and their responses to these challenges)? Where possible identify evidence gaps.

Summary:

Decades of conflict in South Sudan, pre and post-independence in 2011, poverty and poor access to services have increased the rate of disability and rendered people with disabilities more marginalised and excluded as a result of the numerous attitudinal, environmental, and institutional barriers they face, and the lack of concerted efforts to include them. This rapid review identifies the available evidence on the experiences of people with disabilities living in South Sudan. There are still numerous evidence gaps in relation to the experiences of people with disabilities living in South Sudan as very little research has looked at disability in South Sudan and the available evidence base is extremely limited. Much of the available information focuses on Juba rather than the rest of the country. Further research with people with different types of disabilities, and in different areas of South Sudan is needed to more fully understand the experiences of people with disabilities living on South Sudan, the barriers and challenges they face, and how they and their families have responded to them.

Persons with disabilities include ‘those who have long-term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairments which in interaction with various barriers may hinder their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others’ (UNCRPD, 2006; MoGCSWHADM, 2013, p. 8). Despite decades of conflict and its impact on poverty and services, leaving many South Sudanese with different types of disabilities, there are no official statistics in relation to disability prevalence.

According to a national census carried out in 2008, before the 2011 independence of South Sudan, persons with disabilities accounted for 5.1% of the population, although the census is controversial and the number of disabled people believed to be an underestimate (Legge, 2016, p. 1; Anyang, 2016, p. 4; Sida, 2014, p. 1). This is due to both issues with how disability was defined and the likelihood that stigma prevented people from identifying themselves as being a person with disabilities (Legge, 2016, p. 1).

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