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PWD’s Decry Prohibitive Accessibility to Financial Banking Services

Noah Muwanika, a PWD who walks with the help of clutches cannot access the ATM’s alone. He cannot stand alone, not even standing in the lengthy banking hall queues for hours.
Edson Ngirabakunzi ED NUDIPU at Bukoto Office

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Thirty five year old Fazira Kawuma, is blind and cannot read what is displayed within banking halls in order to access her money. She always needs a helper to assist her, but faces challenges at banks because the helpers are not readily available.

Kawuma, and many other persons with disabilities (PWD’s) face various challenges at banking institutions in their endeavor to access services.

Among these include; lack of specialized persons and equipment to help them access and understand the environment they are in, denial by persons giving financial and credits services at Banks, but also the automated teller machines (ATM’s) and counters are built for the able persons. This exposes PWD’s privacy issues, denial of access to financial services and discrimination.

Noah Muwanika, a PWD who walks with the help of clutches cannot access the ATM’s alone. He cannot stand alone, not even standing in the banking hall queues for hours. Muwanika, says many times he is neglected, denied access to the banking facilities just because the people at the banking institutions cannot understand his status.

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Edson Ngirabakunzi, Chief Executive Officer National Union of Disabled Persons of Uganda (NUDIPU) calls on financial institutions to make their decision to provide financial services to persons with disabilities (PWD), on the needs and kinds of products and services. These can be obtained through specialized firms if they are not readily available.

He says the required internal financial institutional staff capabilities and transaction processes should deliver the needed products efficiently without discriminating PWD’s.

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But Patricia Amito, Head of Communications at Uganda Bankers Association - UBA says together with individual financial banking institutions, they are engaging with PWD’s to understand their challenges in order to find solutions. She says some individual financial banking institutions have taken on PWD’s to partner with them in order to ease the challenging situation, by offering specialized loan rates and flexible payment terms.

According to NUDIPU, there are 5 million (13%) persons living with disabilities in Uganda, with 7.9% being male, and 9.1% are female between the age of 18 to 30, while 26% are male, and 34% female between the ages of 31 to 64.