An inclusive office for the Lesotho National Federation of Organizations of the Disabled
The Lesotho National Federation of Organizations of the Disabled (LNFOD) is an umbrella body of organizations dealing with disability in Lesotho. LNFOD advocates for, promotes, and defends the rights of people with disabilities and their families through provision of training, material and emotional support, and by representing their needs to government, development partners and the wider community.
The building in which LNFOD used as their office was not accessible and inclusive of people living with disabilities. There were no ramps, sliding doors, or rails in the toilets. There were no pavements on the outside of the building making it difficult for people who use wheelchairs to access the building. There were also no guiding blocks to assist blind people and signage for general guidance and warnings. The building had poor ventilation and lacked thermal insulation. In essence, the office did not allow for the organization to employ people with disabilities nor fully carry out services for people with disabilities because of lack of accessibility.
rise built a new all inclusive office in Naleli, Maseru the capital city of Lesotho. This building is the first one of its kind in the country catering completely for people with different disabilities. It has a ramp for easy access for people with physical disabilities, the doors are wide to allow wheelchair access, there are rails in the bathroom, the walls are made of textured tiles for guidance for people with blindness or eye sight impairment. The building has insulation in the ceiling as well as a cavity wall for insulation which makes it warm in winter and cool in summer. It is also designed such that there is a separate entrance for the boardroom and toilets allowing LNFOD to rent out the boardroom to external entities as an income generating source because social enterprise is the heart of rise.
With the support of funds from Sedlak GmbH and Brotfür die Welt, the rise in loco cohort of 2020 designed and constructed this building. in loco is rise’s learning by doing program where
Young Basotho graduates from the design, architecture and built environment fields come together as a fellowship and learn practical skills. This way, graduates gained practical skills while the LNFOD community gained an inclusive office space.
The site available for the building was very small, as was the budget for this project. Moreover this building was constructed during the Covid-19 pandemic, movement restrictions due to the pandemic restricted a lot of activities and decreased morale on site. People on site had to work with each other but still maintain Covid-19 protocol which was new and uncomfortable. Construction materials prices kept increasing due to high transport costs and restricted movements which further challenged an already budget-restricted project. Hardware stores would often run out of stock, which challenged progress on site. The International partners were not able to visit the project.
LNFOD is a national umbrella body of organizations of persons with disabilities and therefore works for an estimated 56 000 people in Lesotho according to census (2016). LNFOD now employs more than 10 people with different disabilities and can provide even more services because of their fully inclusive new headquarters office building.
Nkhasi Sefuthi – Director of LNFOD
“We now have accessible toilets and ramps that make the office accessible for all people with disabilities including those using wheelchairs. We are now able to conduct our work efficiently even without the disturbances we used to have in our previous working space.”
SEDLAK GmbH and Diakonie/Brot für die Welt – Sponsors of the project
“We are proud to have supported the first accessible and inclusive office building in Lesotho. The construction of the LNFOD offices in Naleli is a milestone for disability organizations in Lesotho and will hopefully serve as a role model for other accessible buildings throughout the country.”