Inaugurated in February 2021 by the former UN Independent Expert, Ms. Ikponwosa Ero, AFRICA ALBINISM NETWORK* is a consortium of non-governmental organizations working to promote – through human rights advocacy – the dignity, and welfare of persons with albinism and their family members. The administrative center of the Network is led by Under the Same Sun.
Africa Albinism Network (AAN) is committed to building strong partnerships with various national and international organizations representing persons with albinism, particularly in Africa, to ensure that the AFRICAN UNION PLAN OF ACTION TO END ATTACKS AND OTHER HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS TARGETING PERSONS WITH ALBINISM (2021-2031) is implemented at the national level with concrete measures, including through national action plans with multi-year budgets; The positive effects of these measures shall concretely advance the enjoyment of human rights by persons with albinism in the Africa region.
The Network is currently in its pilot phase (March 2021 – March 2023) and uses an agile process to develop its work standards and modalities.
To view the Plan of Action and its Implementation Matrix (2021-2031), click here
*The Africa Albinism Network was formerly named the Africa Albinism Alliance. Its current name better reflects its structure, vision and mission.
Our vision is that people with albinism in Africa will take their rightful place throughout every level of society, and that the days of discrimination will be a faint memory.
Our core mission at the AAN is to promote the implementation of the African Union (AU) Plan of Action to End Attacks and other Human Rights Violations Targeting Persons with Albinism (2021-2031) through:
1. Policy Development: to support the development of national action plans on albinism with multi-year budgets. On this prong, we currently work with eight priority countries.
2. Policy Implementation: to support implementation of the AU Plan of Action (2021-2031) at the national level – whether national action plans exist or not. On this prong, we work with any African country. Currently our efforts in this area centre on:
- workshops on the AU Plan of Action (2021-2031)
- human rights-based advocacy, particularly reporting to AU and UN mechanisms
- awareness-raising initiatives to strategic groups such as government, civil society, faith-based groups among others.
The core values of the Africa Albinism Network are:
- Promotion and protection of human dignity and human rights of persons with albinism and their family members
- Centered on people with albinism and their family members
All advocacy groups promoting the enjoyment of human rights by persons with albinism in the Africa region are considered members of the Network in the general sense. To focus on its mission, the AAN does not have official memberships or membership processes, and it is not a federation. It is a consortium aiming to work with like-minded entities prioritizing human rights-based support to persons with albinism in Africa through the promotion of implementation of the AU Plan of Action on Albinism.
Given its limited funds and resources, the AAN currently focuses on 8 countries: Kenya, South Africa, Malawi, Tanzania, Mozambique, Uganda, Togo and Zambia. They represent a range of anglophone, francophone and lusophone countries. AAN assists these countries in drafting a National Action Plan on albinism that is in line with the AU plan of Action (2021-2031)and getting this plan adopted by Parliament with a multi-year budget.
The Network will seek out short or long-term partnerships with various organizations, with a priority of organizations representing persons with albinism, in accordance with its strategic plans to actualize its mission.
Purpose of the website
This website serves as a coordination platform for mobilizing resources and organizations committed to the implementation of the AU Plan of Action (2021-2031). Specifically the platform serves to:
- Increase support for and knowledge about the AU Plan of Action (2021-2031)
- Promote implementation through institutional and financial resource mobilization
- Report on progress, synergies and best practices
- Be a database of documents and references on albinism online in its library
Albinism is non-contagious, genetically inherited and affects people regardless of race, ethnicity or gender. It results from a significant deficit in the production of melanin and is characterized by the partial or complete absence of pigment in any or all of the skin, hair and eyes. Persons with albinism therefore often appear pale in comparison with members of their family and their communities. Both parents must carry the gene for a child to have albinism. In such cases, there is a 25 per cent chance at each pregnancy that a child will be born with albinism. Albinism is a condition with multiple subtypes. In addition to significantly affecting appearance, albinism often results in two congenital permanent health conditions: visual impairments to varying degrees and high susceptibility to ultraviolet-induced skin damage, in particular skin cancer.
Albinism in Africa
In sub-Saharan Africa, it has been widely documented that myths and misbeliefs surrounding persons with albinism have led to witchcraft-related harmful practices, involving the use of their body parts obtained through brutal attacks and mutilations. Hundreds of attacks including murder, mutilations, grave robberies, sexual violence, kidnapping and trafficking of persons and body parts have been reported across 27 countries in the region.
Statistics about the prevalence of albinism vary widely and no comprehensive studies have yet been conducted. It is reported that in North America and Europe, an estimate of 1 in every 6,600 to 20,000 (depending on the country) have albinism. In Africa it is estimated that 1 in every 5,000 to 15,000 people have albinism with selected populations having estimates as high as 1 in 1,000.
The impact of the condition on human rights and its perception by others, including its effect on social inclusion, vary by region. Information about albinism worldwide may be obtained from the report on Albinism Worldwide by the UN Independent Expert on albinism.
The Global Albinism Alliance (GAA) is also a good source of information. It brings together albinism societies from around the world. For more information, visit their Facebook page or contact them via email: email@example.com
Albinism and Human Rights
Persons with albinism are discriminated against on the basis of intersecting grounds, largely based on disability and colour. According to reports of the UN Independent Expert on the enjoyment of human rights by persons with albinism, discrimination based on colour exacerbates the consequences of disability, in particular when there is high degree of contrast between the colouring of persons with albinism and that of the dominant population. In other words, discrimination against persons with albinism should be understood as a specific situation stemming from the intersection of both disability and colour. Also, multiple discrimination affects subgroups and individuals among people with albinism. For instance, persons with albinism who are women and those affected by HIV/AIDS face aggravated discrimination. Therefore, an understanding of the challenges and identification of good practices to ensure the right of persons with albinism requires a holistic approach.
The United Nations and albinism
UN Independent Expert on the enjoyment of human rights by persons with albinism
In 2015, the Human Rights Council adopted a resolution establishing the mandate of an Independent Expert on the enjoyment of human rights by persons with albinism. The website of the UN Independent Expert contains a wealth of documents and reports on albinism.
International Albinism Awareness Day
In 2014, the United Nations declared June 13 as International Albinism Awareness Day. Numerous awareness-raising events are organised on this occasion. For more information on this day, visit the UN website above and the site run by civil society Albinism Day and the corresponding Facebook page.
Disabilities Strategies and Action Plans by Country/Area
This UN webpage provides links to more than 100 disability strategies and actions plans. It aims at facilitating knowledge-sharing and identifying good practices in disability-inclusive development and the promotion of the rights of persons with disabilities. View these strategies at https://www.un.org/development/desa/disabilities/strategies.html/
Witchcraft-related Harmful Practices
In Africa, persons with albinism are particularly vulnerable to attacks linked to beliefs in witchcraft. The 2018 Report of the UN Independent Expert on the workshop on witchcraft and human rights summarizes issues pertaining to witchcraft-related harmful practices.
In 2021, the UN adopts a historic resolution condemning harmful practices related to accusations of witchcraft and ritual attacks.
This site has a corresponding Facebook page. Join the discussion on implementation of the AU Plan of Action (2021-2031), share your successes, lessons and best practices on our Facebook page: Africa Albinism Network
The Africa Albinism Network is grateful for the support of various international funders.
Please contact us if you wish to support the work of this Network.
We also wish to thank Patricia Willocq for her beautiful award-winning photos. See her full work at http://www.patriciawillocq.com.