The Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation and its partner organisations have conducted their final consultation on the draft National Strategic Plan on Disabilities 2024-28.

The bill will be reviewed by the ministry leadership before reaching the Council of Ministers for approval.

A March 26 consultative workshop on the draft was attended by members of the capital-provincial Disability Action Council (DAC), relevant state institutions, civil society organisations and community representatives, said a social media post by the DAC.

DAC president Met Makara explained that the draft plan was prepared by the DAC general secretariat, with technical assistance from the UN Development Programme (UNDP) in Cambodia, as well as support from the UN Partnership on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

The consultation workshop was aimed at collecting input and verifying the draft, as well as establishing a framework to monitor and evaluate the implementation of the strategic plan in the future.

“This was the third and final workshop. The input we received will be integrated into the final draft, which will be submitted to the social affairs minister for review, before being passed to the Council of Ministers,” he said.

In the previous government mandate, the National Strategic Plan on Disabilities 2019-23 was implemented. It was well received by public institutions, the private sector, development partners, sub-national authorities and other stakeholders, and made a significant contribution to resolving the issues that people with disabilities faced in the past.

Cai Cai, director of gender equality and social inclusiveness for the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UN ESCAP), said the strategic plan will play an important role in supporting Cambodia’s efforts to fulfil its obligations under the UN Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).

“This convention is also in line with the first phase of the Cambodian government’s Pentagonal Strategy, which stipulates that the Cambodian people will live with dignity, happiness, equal rights and equal opportunities in society. We support Cambodia in its efforts to ensure that the rights of persons with disabilities are recognised,” she said.

The UNDP has been working closely with the social affairs ministry and the DAC to implement the convention, as well as to prepare a report on the implementation, which will be submitted to the UN.

Chhor Ponnaroth, programme officer at the Cambodian Disabled People’s Organisation (CDPO), believes that the development of the new national strategy is very important, as it will allow people with disabilities to access public services.

He said the strategy is also a way for all relevant institutions to integrate their plans and activities with one another.

From 2020 to 2023, the social affairs ministry implemented a programme to identify people with disabilities. A total of 318,473 people with disabilities were recorded, including 155,410 females. The ministry has provided equity cards to 254,419 of them.