How two photo exhibits were able to give a picture of disability inclusion in Tanzania.

In Tanzania today, 4.2 million people are living with a disability. Disabled people are often among the poorest and most marginalised in society. Their exclusion from the workplace, either through discrimination or inaccessible work environments, is estimated to cost Tanzania $480 million every year.

Since November 2017, Motivation has worked in Tanzania alongside our project partners, Kilimanjaro Association of Spinal Cord Injuries (KASI) and Moshi Cooperative University.  Our latest collaboration - Rebuilding Lives, Growing Livelihoods – aimed to empower disabled people through wheelchair provision, training and livelihood skills. Our aim was to support them in finding opportunities to earn an income, live independently and provide for their families.  

Photographing Tanzania

As part of the project, we used photography to better understand and show the challenges that are faced by disabled people in their homes and communities. Each participant was loaned a camera to take photos of their everyday activities – from going to work to getting married.

Participants were encouraged to take photos of issues that are important to them and things that enable or prevent them feeling included in the community. The photos show the relationship between people with disabilities and the environment, demonstrating how difficult it is to get around towns and cities as a wheelchair user, and the difference that accessibility and inclusion makes to daily life. They show the lack of access to buildings and the rough terrain that makes it very difficult to get around. They also show that people with disabilities can work and achieve great things when they are given opportunities and support.

Exhibiting challenges and changes

We wanted to showcase these photos locally to raise awareness of disability rights and inclusion. So two exhibits took place in Kilimanjaro and Arusha region last month.

We wanted to showcase these photos locally to raise awareness of disability rights and inclusion. So two exhibits took place in Kilimanjaro and Arusha region last month. A total of 40 photos from eight participants were exhibited with two different themes: the challenges facing people with spinal cord injuries in accessing livelihoods; and, second, how project participants felt their lives had changed following their work with Motivation. Each photo was accompanied by an explanatory heading to encourage discussion of these topics. 

We invited government officials to see the images and to hear speeches from those who took the photos. We wanted to provide better information on life with a disability in Tanzania and to encourage policy-makers to create laws that create equality for people with disabilities so they can improve their lives.

During the exhibition in Kilimanjaro, three participants took the lead in explaining the photo themes from their own personal point of view.  Another participant exhibited the handmade leather sandals he makes as part of his new initiative to generate income.

During the Arusha exhibition, five participants explained their photo themes while three more exhibited the products they make as part of the initiatives to generate income for themselves.

Having a voice

In both exhibits, the participants spoke about the barriers to accessing a livelihood and the importance of respect and social inclusion in the community. They encouraged everyone to ask questions about how the photos relate to their daily life, why these concerns exist and what can be done to resolve them.

The use of photos allowed the project participants to have a clear voice about their own experience of disability in Tanzania. It allowed the participants to show how their lives were changed by their participation in the Motivation Peer Training and Entrepreneurial Skills Training.  

Looking to the future

There remains a lot of work to be done to make Tanzania accessible and to build stronger inclusion. But we hope that these photos show the difference that can be made to people’s lives when they are given an opportunity to be independent.

Our work in Tanzania is part-funded by the National Lottery Community Fund, which is supported by players of The National Lottery in the UK.