Supporting Persons with Disabilities: An Interview with Abo Osama Abdalla Mohamed Taktook

In honor of International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD), LMG interviews Abo Osama Abdalla Mohamed Taktook from the Republic of Sudan. Mr. Taktook discusses his thoughts on International Day of Persons with Disabilities and participated in LMG’s Regional Senior Leadership Program, conducted in collaboration with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and facilitated by Yale University’s Global Health Leadership Initiative. 

Abo Osama Abdalla Mohamed Taktook, General Secretary – Sudan National Council for Persons with Disabilities, Khartoum, Sudan

Mr. Taktook is serving as General Secretary for the Sudan National Council for Persons with Disabilities. His role is to coordinate the Sudanese efforts to adhere to the rights of persons with disabilities within the different government ministries and institutions and to draft the disability policies, plans and projects. He is a founder and was the executive director of JASMAR Human Security Organization for ten years. During that time, he facilitated its membership in RI, UN ECOSOC consultative status, CONGO, and IDC. Mr. Taktook was a supporter for the International Campaign to Ban Landmines & Cluster Munitions Coalition, a Sudan focal point advocate, and a victim assistance researcher for the ICBL Monitor Report for 2009 – 2010. He participated in the drafting of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD). He organized and participated in many local, regional and international conferences, workshops and seminars on disability, development, landmines, cluster munitions and capacity building.

LMG: What does “break barriers, open doors to realize an inclusive society for all” mean to you?

Abo Osama Abdalla Mohamed Taktook: It is the essence of the treaty itself—insisting the inclusion of persons with disabilities in the community and involving them in global and national development agendas. We must break whatever barriers necessary to get there. All of us—governments, development partners, NGOs, service providers, community members, etc.—must act to ensure inclusivity. For sure, inclusive societies will not happen overnight, but we can and must take steps to get there.

LMG: What is the most important progress you have witnessed in implementing disability-sensitive policies and/or promoting public awareness?

Taktook: Globally speaking, the most important progress is the recognition that people with disabilities should be a part of the development agenda. I participated in High-level Meeting of the United Nations General Assembly on the realization of the Millennium Development Goals and other internationally agreed development goals for persons with disabilities (resolution 66/124) this past September. During the meeting, international leaders came together and reaffirmed their commitments to ensuring inclusion. Important documents from that meeting demonstrating the international momentum will be very useful to advocates and policymakers around the world. Speaking specifically of Sudan, the most important progress I have witnessed is the establishment of a national coordination mechanism for disability rights. This mechanism is the pillar of our country’s plans for inclusion and has a clear mandate to mainstream disability throughout all other government ministries and institutions.

LMG:  From your perspective, what remaining challenges or obstacles are of highest priority?

Taktook: In Sudan, two major challenges come to mind. The first is to make a real breakthrough in the gap in awareness for policymakers, the public, and service providers. We need to make sure people are not only aware but that they are compelled to get involved and take action to improve things. The second challenge is the implementation of our vision and our strategy for mainstreaming disability. As I mentioned, establishing the coordination mechanism is a key step forward but implementation will be the big test.

LMG: As (the global development agenda heads toward 2015 and beyond) we approach the post-2015 time period, what actions do you recommend for leaders like yourself to take to encourage support for the dignity, rights and well-being of persons with disabilities and to increase awareness of gains to be derived from the integration of persons with disabilities in every aspect of political, social, economic and cultural life?

What actions do you recommend for leaders like yourself to take to get disability included in mainstream development agendas?

Taktook: My main recommendation is that the movement for disability rights and mainstreaming should be led by persons with disabilities themselves. They should be viewed as leaders of the change and not just passive recipients. We must encourage disabled people’s organizations to get organized and involved. For example in Sudan, we are organizing celebrations throughout the year and not just waiting for December 3rd to come together as a united movement. Last week, we launched the celebration for IDPD in Sudan with over 2000 people with disabilities in attendance. We were honored by Sudan’s first vice president who spoke at the event. He announced the strong willingness of the government to serve persons with disabilities and called ministers to take the issues seriously and fulfill its obligations. Events like these are critical to organizing and strengthening the movement, and driving us forward.

These leaders participated in LMG’s Regional Senior Leadership Program, conducted in collaboration with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and facilitated by Yale University’s Global Health Leadership Initiative:

Tanzania: Vincent Kaduma, Disability Programme Officer, ICRC Special Fund for the Disabled (ICRC/SFD)

Sudan: Salma Ahmed Ali Geneif, Disability Focal Point, Sudan Disarmament, Demobilization & Reintegration (DDR) Commission

These leaders participated in the Women’s Institute on Leadership and Disability (WILD) program led by Mobility International USA (MIUSA):

Peru: Barbara Ventura, Founding Partner and President of La Asociacion Luchando Contra Viento y Marea (Association for Struggling Against All Odds

Kenya: Lizzie Kiama, Director of Gender and Disability at This-Ability Consulting

To read more about the Regional Senior Leadership Program, click here.

To read more about LMG’s work empowering disability leaders and strengthening services for persons with disabilities, click here.