Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) in partnership with the National Council on Disability Affairs (NCDA) conducts a unique international cooperation to promote “universal design” in the rural communities of the Philippines. A technical cooperative project is being implemented for a Non-handicapping Environment (NHE) in the rural areas, where majority of Filipinos with disabilities live.

Two (2) pioneering municipalities in Iloilo and Misamis Oriental, with technical assistance by JICA and NCDA, make their public facilities more accessible for persons with diabilities (PWDs). Such accessible facilities are based on the concept of “Universal Design”. It promotes the participation of people with various needs in the community including senior citizens and PWDs. Focusing to make phhysical environments barrier-free, the Project also endeavors to remove barriers in existing systems/regulations and attitudes of people towards PWDs.

From October 30 to November 3, the 3rd International Conference for Universal Design will be held in Hamamatsu, Shizuoka Prefecture, Japan. This is one of the largest international conferences on Universal Design with thousands of participants from government institutes, private companies and universities all over the world. Six (6) Filipinos of the NHE Project, including Municipal Mayors of New Lucena, Iloilo and Opol, Misamis Oriental, will each be receiving a prestigious international “2010 IAUD Award.”

IAUD has a vision to create environments where the dignity of each human with various needs is fully respected. Among a large number of applications from both private and public organizations, the NHE Project of the Philippines has been nominated as one of the 2010 IAUD Awardees with its great contributions in enhancing the dignity of rural persons with disabilities in the Philippines.