Employment: About 80% of disabled people are unemployed in Cameroon
The 4th edition of the forum of civil society organisations of the Littoral.C.F ADISI-Cameroun

Employment: About 80% of disabled people are unemployed in Cameroon

According to an article published in 2017 by association pour le development de l’entrepreneuriat des personnes handicapées (Adephan), the unemployment rate for disabled people is more than 80%, out of more than 1,000,000 people of working age. In the Littoral region, it is hard to get statistical data on their socio-professional integration from the relevant administrations and institutions Employment people unemployed are Cameroon.

Aimé Raymond Ngangue was only one year old at the time when doctors told his parents that he would be crippled for the rest of his life by poliomyelitis. « It started with seizures, then total paralysis of both legs, » explained this polio victim who uses a wheelchair. Despite his disability, Raymond was recruited as a contractual executive in the Cameroon public administration.

Just like him, Robert Ekabe, now 55 years old, experienced disability at a tender age. « I had a domestic accident when I was 12 years old.  The tip of the machete injured my left eye and since then I have never seen out of that eye. 2 years later I gradually lost the sight in my right eye. The doctors said that nothing could be done« , he recalled. Six years after his accident, he studied Braille, agriculture and animal husbandry at a special school. His love for teaching would make him a special teacher.

Currently president of l’Association pour la formation et l’insertion sociale des aveugles (Acfisa), he is worried about the future of his students, who have difficulty in finding a job at the end of their training. « The school has more than twenty higher graduates and more than fifty holders of the Brevet d’étude du premier cycle in Douala. But out of this number, only 4 or 5 have a job, » Robert confided.  He added: « Among our students, there are some who have been sent to the Ecole normale des instituteurs de l’enseignement général (Enieg) and who hold Certificates of Pedagogical Aptitude for Nursery and Primary School Teachers (Capiemp), but who are not yet recruited. The education of a blind person is costly. But after such an investment, the state does nothing for their professional integration. I believe that there is a problem« .

Data not available

In an article published in May 2017, l’ Association pour le développement de l’entrepreneuriat des personnes handicapées (Adephan), indicated that in Cameroon, unemployment rate for disabled people is more than 80%, out of at least 1,000,000 in working age. The causes include the reluctance of companies to recruit or support people with disabilities and workplaces which are not adapted to their disabilities.

However, Article 38 of law  No. 2010/002 of 13 April 2010 on the protection and promotion of persons with disabilities states that  » Disabled people who can justify a professional or academic training benefit from preferential measures, in including age waiver in recruitment to public and private employment compared to those valid people when the post is compatible with their condition. For equal qualifications, priority in recruitment is given to the disabled person… ».

However, according to Professor Paul Basile Nyet, an economic sociologist and a specialist in social regulation and labour market flexibility, it is necessary to take into account the nature of tasks for which this category of labour can be validly requested. « From the moment a disabled person does not have the same work force as an able-bodied person, it is already a problem. To convince the employer to accept this type of labour in his workforce, a lot of communication, awareness-raising and humanism are needed, » he explained.

An opinion in line with the observation made by Abdoulahi Bagobiri, an expert in Human Resources, who points out: « I have not yet come across a company that takes into account the disability criterion, at least not in Cameroon« .

In 2005, according to the 3rd General Census of Population and Housing (RGPH) of the Central Bureau of Censuses and Population Studies (Bucrep), on the socio-economic situation of people living with a handicap, the country counted 262,119 people living with at least one handicap. These include deafness, mutism, leprosy, upper or lower limb disability, mental illness or albinism. This represents 1.5% of the total population, with a prevalence of 1.6% in men and 1.5% in women. The said study reveals that unemployment rate of people living with a disability is 16.4%, that is 16.5% for men and 16.1% for women. In urban areas, it is 29.7%, compared to 7.7% in rural areas.

Data on the socio-professional integration of people with disabilities is difficult to get in the Littoral region. The Regional Delegation of Employment and Vocational Training (Minfop) of the Littoral has no data on current number of disabled persons and the percentage of those in the civil service. « We do not take into account the disability approach. The statistics we have are those on the gender aspect, » states an executive.

At the National Employment Fund (FNE)the regional agency of the Littoral, the situation is much the same.  » We have no specific focus on the disabled. For each Cameroonian who arrives, we have to find a solution adapted to his or her needs, without any discrimination, » stresses Eric-Christian Mopa, from the information and communication department. In the view of Axel Amana, a specialist in human resources administration, this lack of data is due to the inaction of these entities.  « Apart from that, I am not sure that this problem is really part of the priority concerns of the state, » he points out.

Nevertheless, the FNE claims to have a support programme for the socio-professional insertion and reintegration of vulnerable people (Pairppev), jointly initiated and implemented with the Ministry of Social Affairs (Minas). The aim is to facilitate the socio-professional integration of vulnerable people, who are capable and of professional age, through placement in companies, skills training and the financing of self-employment and micro-enterprise projects. In the document entitled « FNE in 7 questions », this institution indicates that 483 vulnerable people (disabled and street children, etc.) were inserted in Cameroon during its pilot phase in 2016.

According to Angeline Evina, president coordinator of  associations des étudiants des universités du Cameroun (Caehucam), an organisation that brings together the associations of disabled students from the 8 public universities in Cameroon and soon 11 with the creation of 3 new universities, the recruitment of disabled persons is not  very common in Cameroon. A few developments have made it possible to do so, such as the special recruitment of 25,000 youth in 2010, where more than 200 disabled students were recruited after lobbying by Caehucam. « The largest number of former students who are employed were partly due to this power grab in 2010. Some of them were also recruited after Caehucam lobbied the government, » she explained.

In the opinion of Jacques Adelain Terrestra Nang, regional delegate for youth and civic education, « this percentage may be low because on one hand, people with disabilities, have a problem of access to information, they are not always aware of government programmes that are implemented. »  In this regard, Eric Dzogang, head of the statistics department at the regional delegation of Minas-Littoral, deplores the fact that people with disabilities do not do enough research. « When you are looking for a job, you have to go for information. Also, people with disabilities only want to be recruited, while they can explore other avenues, » he said.

At the level of the subdivisional municipalities, the integration of people with disabilities is not always easy, even if some make the effort to integrate some of them into their workforce. This is the case of the Douala 3rd town hall, which has three staff with mobility impairement in the positions of head of the civil status office, head of the social and cultural service and hygiene service officer. In Douala IV, the number is slightly lower, with two disabled persons who are also municipal councillors. It is impossible to have this information in the municipalities of Douala I, II and V. Among other reasons, the Mayor’s absence and/or the unavailability of the official to whom the request was directed. This is the case of the social service of the Douala V town hall, whose head asked DataCameroon to come back only after a telephone call, which has never been made.

Among other challenges…

According to Innocent Sielahe, a mobility-impaired person, even if disabled people manage to find work, they face problems with positions of responsibility. « There are not many of us who have responsibilities. Whether in private or public companies. I have a master’s degree in taxation, I have been working in this department for 12 years, but unfortunately, I have never been appointed. In the delegation where I work, I am not the only one with a disability. My colleague also, despite his diplomas, has never been appointed, while the least qualified are our leaders, » admitted this executive in the surveys and statistics department of the regional delegation of Small and Medium Enterprises, Social Economy and Handicrafts (Minpmeesa) of the Littoral.

In addition to this obstacle, the problem of inadequate infrastructure is added. « I work in an old building, the type that does not have standards around disability. There is no wheelchair ramp (…), » said Aimé Raymond Ngangue, who was recruited during the  special recruitment of 25,000 young graduates in the civil service.

These challenges are also part of Innocent Sielahe’s daily life: « Even though we have this job, the infrastructure is not adapted, but we have to manage. We have the same output as the others, » he says, adding: « The building as it was built can no longer be adapted. What we asked for at the time was that the offices on the ground floor be allocated to us, but this was not done. We got used to it and did not ask for this arrangement anymore.

Abdoulahi Bagobiri, an expert in human resources, believes that the allocation of all disabled employees to the ground floor can be tricky to manage, because of the special treatment they have to undergo. « I believe the main thing would be to have accommodations that allow all disabled employees to access the different floors. »


This Investigation Journalism was conducted as part of the Open data for governance in Cameroon (ODAGOCA) project, put into place by ADISI-CAMEROUN. It is funded by the International Freedom of Expression Exchange (IFEX).
A lire aussi :  Emploi : Près de 80% des personnes handicapées en chômage au Cameroun

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