Independent Living Institute


Government Action on Disability Policy
A Global Survey
Part II - Government Replies as Country Profiles


Download 'Government Reports on the UN Standard Rules' as a PDF file (440 KB)
© Dimitris Michailakis 1997

Transmitted by Permanent Mission to the United Nations, New York (21 May 1996)
Compare with the following Country Report(s): DPI

General policy

There is no officially recognized disability policy in Malawi, but the Standard Rules are in the process of being adopted by the Government.

Since the adoption of the Rules a National Co-ordinating Committee on Disability Issues was formed. The committee being interministerial/multi-sectoral, aims at influencing the implementation of all the Rules.


The rights of persons with disabilities are protected by a combination of special and general legislation. The judicial mechanism adopted to protect the rights of persons with disabilities is due process (legal remedy through courts). Non-judicial bodies include an Ombudsman, a Governmental body (administrative) and a Law Commissioner. The following benefits are guaranteed by law to persons with disabilities: training, rehabilitation and counselling. Other benefits such as health and medical care, financial security, employment, independent living, and participation in decisions affecting themselves are not guaranteed by law.

No new legislation concerning disability has been enacted since the adoption of the Rules.


There are no laws, regulations and/or guidelines ensuring accessibility of the build environment. No measures have been promoted to facilitate accessibility in the build environment. There are no special transport arrangements. When planning to build accessible environments the most difficult obstacles are attitudinal factors, economic/budgetary factors, lack of knowledge, research and information, lack of user participation, lack of co-operation from other organizations/institutions, and lack of enforcement mechanism. There is no disability awareness component in the training of planners, architects and construction engineers.

Sign language for deaf people has no officially recognized status, is not used as the first language in the education of deaf people, and is not recognized as the main means of communication between deaf persons and others. There are no Government measures for encouraging media and other forms of public information to make their services accessible. The following services are provided in order to facilitate information and communication between persons with disabilities and other persons: literature in Braille/tape, news magazines on tape/Braille, and sign language interpretation available for any purpose.

Organizations of persons with disabilities

There is a national umbrella organization where all organizations of persons with disabilities are represented. Legal provisions mandate the representatives of persons with disabilities to participate in policy-making and to work with Governmental institutions. Organizations are often consulted when laws and regulations with a disability aspect are being prepared. Consultations take place at the national level. The Government gives financial and organizational/logistic support to existing or new organizations. Persons with disabilities participate to a very limited extent in Government, legislature, judicial authorities, political parties and NGOs. The disabled persons' organizations in Malawi have the role to advocate rights and improved services, mobilize persons with disabilities, identify needs and priorities, contribute to public awareness, provide services, and promote/organize income generating activities.

Co-ordination of work

The co-ordinating committee is reporting to the Ministry of Social Welfare. The committee includes representatives of all Ministries, of organizations of persons with disabilities, of other NGOs. The Government expects the co-ordinating committee to participate in policy development and to perform other tasks. It is too early for an assessment of the effects from the establishment of the co-ordinating committee.

The adoption of the Rules has led to a rethinking of the approach to disability policy and to amending of the Handicapped Persons Act.

Contents of the UN Report | Compare with the following Country Report(s): DPI