Senegal’s experience on the development process of the social orientation act


Wednesday 3 November 2010 by Plateforme DESC Sénégal

Senegal’s experience on the development process of the social orientation act

During the 30th of October 2001 interdepartmental council, one of the 19 directives was the adoption in Senegal of a social orientation act to help disabled people. The concerns linked to the protection and the promotion of disabled people are apparently quite recent following the results of a study jointly commissioned in 2005 by Handicap FormEduC and the World Bank. Thus, uncontrolled statistics, the inappropriateness or the non existence of a legal environment and the socio-economic hurdles are the main limits to the full participation and the independency of disabled people.

Also the international convention on the rights of persons with disabilities (la convention internationale sur les droits des personnes handicapées - CIDHP ), adopted the 13th of December 2006 by the United Nations, was unknown in Senegal and hadn’t been signed yet by the Government. And yet, the purpose of the Convention is “to promote, protect and ensure the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedom for everyone with disabilities, and to promote respect for their inherent dignity”. Thus, the UNO recommends State parties to take this into account in all their policies and programs.

In our country, the understanding of the disability issue is more influenced by a charitable and an assistance approach than one based on rights because it is the Ministry in charge of national solidarity who is responsible for all the issues concerned by this category. Therefore, the opacity in the implementation of the decentralization policies and the fight against poverty did not permit the State to have a clear vision of the role and the place of disabled people in local development programmes. Local budgets and projects do not include their rights.

It has to be noted that the notion of disability has considerably evolved. According to the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF, WHO 2001) disability results from the interaction between people presenting incapacities and behaviour and environmental barriers that are hurdles to their effective and full participation in society on an equal basis with others. From now on, a legal and holistic approach should be privileged in the implementation of public policies.

Therefore, all action of simplification and appropriation of the CIDPH and of the social orientation act by actors in the field will reinforce disabled people’s autonomy and their sense of belonging and will considerably improve human, social and economic development in the Senegalese society and eliminate the plague of poverty, that particularly affects this social group.

Action, methods and tools :

  • Support project’s development and funding request submitted to the EU
  • Creation of a committee composed of experts in the field, OPH and government’s representatives (social action department) and a CONGAD representative TDR’s elaboration of the social orientation act underlying an information retrieval (DAS act draft, French 1975 law, Tunisian law and Mauritanian ruling)
  • Recruitment of a law expert consultant responsible for elaborating a preliminary bill
  • Organization of three interregional workshops serving the bill
  • Organization of a national workshop to ratify the preliminary bill
  • Transmission of the bill to the social action department
  • Media coverage of all the proceedings and full press coverage
  • State implication in all the proceedings, at a national and local level (national workshop presided by the DC of the Minister in charge of the disabled persons, inter regional workshops by government officials)

Results obtained :

  • Appropriation of the preliminary bill by the principle actors mainly social action department
  • Inventory and growing awareness of the situation of the disabled persons in Senegal
  • Adoption of a bill by the council of ministers in January 2009 i.e. 3 months after the national workshop ratification
  • Parliament vote for a social orientation act to protect the disabled persons


  • Reluctance of some state civil servants to the approach initiated by HFE
  • Rivalry between certain OPH

Advices for those who want to work on this topic:

  • Engage with trustworthy representatives who have a good knowledge of the subject
  • Seek the support from an expert on the subject
  • Seek the financial support for the implementation of actions
  • To opt for the legibility and visibility of actions

Mr Oumar DIOP
Senegal ESC rights platform

Translated from french to english by Jennifer Valat.

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