Disability Rights Unit Malawi (DRUM)

Start Date


Completion Date:


Programme Partners:

Federation of Disability Organisations of Malawi (FEDOMA) – lead partner and implementing organisation.

Power (Power International & Power4Good Ireland Ltd) – technical partners

Southern Africa Litigation Centre (SALC) – strategic litigation partners.

Programme budget


Programme funders:

OSISA:   $83,583

Norwegian Association of the Disabled (NAD): $11,500

Others: $11,360




Summary of programme.

The DRUM Mission: The mission of the project is to ensure sustained protection, defence and advancement of the human rights of all persons with disabilities in Malawi.

The DRUM Purpose: The purpose is to establish a professional casework, legal advice, advocacy and legal reform programme so that principles, precedents and better practice can be developed to achieve improved rights of persons with disabilities notably around key issues/themes of health and mental health, education, employment laws, access, gender, children and HIV / Aids.

Capacity Building :Additionally the project seeks to build the institutional capacity of FEDOMA in terms of its ability to both deliver on the implementation of the DRUM project (across litigation, legal challenge, legal review and national advocacy / awareness raising) and to act as a strong and truly representative national organisation for persons with disabilities. FEDOMA recognises that this type of project requires a progressive development of capacity and a transfer of expertise between organisations to achieve this.  FEDOMA further accepts that the first year will achieve very specific limited outputs based on the experiences in Zambia in the context of: the way the legal system operates; the length of time it takes to establish a professional casework service and achieve impact on public opinion; the capacity to influence government policy / practice through advocacy campaigns and media work; etc.

Methodology: The project brings together the disciplines of social and paralegal casework, law, advocacy, media work and capacity building to focus on the fundamental issue of human rights and disability. This integrated approach will have the following objectives:

·         To develop, build and mobilise the skills needed within FEDOMA and the wider disability and legal fraternity to uphold and advance the rights of persons with disabilities;

·         To address the individual needs of people with disabilities through professional casework identified in part through an outreach programme and focused primarily on key sectors including education, women and children;

·         To use cross-cutting Accessibility Audits – both national and sectoral - and associated media activities to bring strategic change in public and private institutions – and significantly increase the access of people with disabilities to these institutions and their vital services;

·         To encourage public and private bodies, through carefully selected litigation channels, to ensure equal access, treatment and opportunity for all persons with disabilities (including women, children, and HIV/AIDS-ill patients), and over time, through legal cases and landmark judgements, establish a body of case law and knowledge about the rights of disabled people in key sectors.

·         To focus specifically on the needs of disabled women and children in term of: identifying specific issues; fast-tracking casework, litigation and legal challenge; promoting and advocating for the advancement of their specific rights and finally publicising judgements and actions to wider sensitise government, civil society and the wider public.

·         To use wide targeted national publicity to let society know of these rights and duties; and through specific workshops and targeted media focused on key areas of litigation (equality of access, education, gender, employment laws etc), bring greater awareness of the human rights issues that affect the rights of persons with disabilities to private, civil society and government institutions and bodies.

·         Through a series of targeted advocacy actions, to bring change by calling for government and civil society to perform their statutory obligations and required functions towards persons with disabilities as well as tackling legal reform / legislative review.

·         To establish strong and enduring project linkages with ZAFOD, OSISA, OSI, SALC, Irish Aid etc. so that the project can move forward in a sustainable professional manner.

·         To provide a template for replication in Zimbabwe in the future in partnership with FODPZ (the Federation of Disabled Persons Organisations of Zimbabwe).

Results & Impact

Update as of November 2012

The first year of the DRUM programme has seen considerable activity and success including:

  • more than 40 individual cases have been handled;
  • one case has been referred to lawyers through the Malawi Law Society;
  • two strategic litigation cases have been referred to the Southern African Litigation Centre (SALC);
  • eighteen cases have been resolved by caseworkers;
  • 20 cases are still active;
  • more than fifteen access audits have been completed of buildings in and around Blantyre including banks, shopping malls, hotels, magistrate courts, the high courts and supreme court of Malawi; reports to the audited buildings have been served;
  • engaged in advocacy for the enactment of the Equalisation of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities Bill – the bill has since been passed (May 2012) by the National Assembly.


Additionally DRUM has:

  • conducted meeting with key stakeholders including mental health representatives, the Malawi electoral commission, disabled people’s organisation, and the Malawi Council for the Handicapped (MACOHA);
  • conducted outreach/awareness campaigns in eight community-based rehabilitation cetnres in Blantyre – and 9 cases have resulted from this work;
  • represented FEDOMA with the Malawi Electoral Commission during the development of the Commission’s Strategic Plan for 2013-2-15;
  • developed further the skills of the DRUM team around advocacy and the purpose and use of the optional protocol of the UN Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD).


A first six month report of the project is available here, and is also available through FEDOMAs website.  An annual report will be posted soon.

FEDOMA wishes to continue the valuable work of DRUM and to extend DRUM into a second phase of work which will include a geographical development of work into Lilongwe District (DRUM is currently exclusively focused around  Blantyre), and additionally to specifically look at legal reform with a focus on mental health. We are currently working with FEDOMA to secure funding for the next phase of this vital work.