Award for empowering people with disabilities in North Macedonia

Regional Director of We Effect Europe, Anneli Leina, receiving the prize at the awards ceremony. Photo by Ljiljana Mitevska, We Effect.

For the project From Disability to FoodAbility, We Effect’s teamwork with Radiohjälpen and partner organization National Federation of Farmers (NFF) from North Macedonia has been recognized and awarded with a jubilee prize in a form of a statuette from the Faculty of Philosophy, University Ss. Cyril and Methodius in Skopje.

The award acknowledges the importance of our complex project From Disability to FoodAbility focused on social and economic empowerment of people with disabilities and their families living in the rural areas of North Macedonia.

What is unique about this project, is that although in the past there have been projects in the country targeting disabled people, for the first time the focus was on the rural community.

The project, funded by Radiohjälpen, was implemented in the past two and a half years by our partner NFF with technical support from the Institute for Special Education and Rehabilitation at the Faculty of Philosophy. As part of its 1oo jubilee, the faculty expressed their gratitude towards the persons and organizations that have left a significant mark in the work of this institution in recent years by awarding the jubilee awards.

The potential of the persons with disabilities as contributors to society must be recognized. And that’s exactly what we were trying to achieve with the project From Disability to FoodAbility. To enable the disabled people living in the rural areas to become active participants in the agricultural activities and in their communities,” says Anneli Leina, Regional Director of We Effect Europe.

The project focused on creating conditions for the people with disabilities and their families living in the rural areas, not only to be able to improve their livelihoods and food security, but also to stimulate their social and economic empowerment.

This was done through infrastructural interventions, adjustments in the food production on the farms and kitchen gardens and increase of the overall awareness for the people with disabilities in their communities and on national level. Special attention was paid to women with disabilities who are often subjected to double discrimination due to their gender and disability status and are more likely to live impoverished and isolated lives.

During this time of corona pandemic, the project proved to have invaluable importance as the persons with disabilities are the ones exposed to highest risks of food insecurity, unemployment and inadequate access to health and social services.

By elevating the living conditions of the disabled persons in the rural areas, the aim of the project From Disability to FoodAbility was to contribute towards creating better rural environment that is inclusive, equitable and sustainable for everyone and where the rights of people with disabilities can be fully realized.

Written by

Ljiljana Mitevska