ADF History

ADF Consultative Meeting 2012

A Consultative Meeting on the creation of ADF took place 28-29 November 2012 at the UN Conference Center in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The meeting was organized by the UN Special Rapporteur on Disability of the Commission for Social Development, with the support of the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) and in partnership with the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), African disability organizations, academic institutions and development partners. The meeting participants welcomed and supported the initiative of the Special Rapporteur to establish an African Disability Forum, envisaged as an organization led by DPOs to advance the rights and inclusion of persons with disabilities in Africa.
Following the 2012 Consultative Meeting, an ADF Interim Working Group (IWG) was established, composed of 10 leaders of African continental, sub-regional and national federations of DPOs, serving in an individual capacity.  IWG members were selected on the basis of geographical region, gender and type of disability.  Three facilitators for the Group were also appointed.  The IWG was charged with preparing proposals on the organizational structure, membership, priority areas of work and for the formal establishment of the ADF.  The IWG conducted its work “virtually”, via e-mail, finalizing an ADF Concept Paper as well as funding proposals. 

ADF Planning Meeting 2013

The need for a unified representative voice of DPOs and persons with disabilities in Africa had become more acute with the advent of the African Union “Disability Architecture” (AUDA), adopted by the AU Conference of Ministers of Social Development (CAMSD) in November 2012.  Thanks to a grant from the Abilis Foundation (Finland), a planning meeting of the ADF IWG took place 13-15 December 2013 in Addis Ababa.  The meeting reviewed options and reached a consensus on the organizational structure and functioning of ADF, its immediate priorities and made plans for its formal creation. 

ADF Launch Meeting 2014

A meeting to launch ADF took place17-19 November 2014, at the UN Conference Centre in Addis Ababa. The meeting brought together some 40 regional and national leaders of DPOs in Africa, who decided to formally establish the African Disability Forum.  The DPO leaders, from over 20 African countries, decided upon the ADF membership and governance structure, approved a draft Constitution and planned next steps for its establishment.  The ADF Launch Meeting was made possible by support from UNDESA and in collaboration with the AUC and UNECA as well as development partner organizations including the Abilis Foundation (Finland) and the Norwegian Association of the Disabled. 

The existing Interim Working Group (IWG) was enlarged and assigned the task to undertake ADF legal organizational registration in Ethiopia and guide the work of the ADF during its initial stage until the election of a formal Executive Council. The enlarged IWG was composed of 11 leaders of continental, sub-regional and national DPO federations, including men, women and youth leaders with disabilities from Algeria, Burkina Faso, Cameroun, Gabon, Kenya, Niger, Mauritania, Morocco, South Africa, Uganda, and Zambia.

The ADF IWG applied for and received a grant of US$200,000 from the UN Partnership Fund for Promoting the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNPRPD) to establish ADF and begin activities. The funds are managed by the UNDP Regional Service Center for Africa until such time as the ADF Office and Director are in place. 

ADF General Assembly 2015

Delegates from 30 DPOs in Africa having applied for membership in ADF held the first ADF General Assembly meeting, 31 Oct.-1 Nov. 2015 at the Desmond Tutu Conference Center in Nairobi, Kenya.  Until this meeting, Africa was the only region of the world without a democratic, representative, regional disability forum of member DPOs. The General Assembly formally adopted the ADF Constitution and Bylaws and elected the first ADF Executive Council.  The General Assembly also decided on priority activities for ADF to engage in over the next 4 years.

The ADF General Assembly took place immediately following the UNDESA-sponsored Forum on “Disability Inclusive and Accessible Urban Development”, organized in cooperation with UN Habitat, which took place 28-30 Oct. 2015 at the UN Conference Center in Nairobi.  Thanks to support from UNDESA, several delegates to the ADF General Assembly participated in the DESA Forum.