VOICE GHANA, a disability rights, advocacy and capacity building organization has commenced a project in five selected districts to strengthen the participation of persons with disabilities (PWDs) in local level development.
The project, ongoing in the Volta region which spans from June 2017 to May 2018 is being facilitated by STAR-Ghana with support from UKAid, DANIDA and the European Union.
The Nkwanta South, Nkwanta North, Krachi East, Akatsi North and Central Tongu Districts were selected as beneficiary districts where 15 community-based disability self-help groups have been engaged as mediators of the project.
These self-help groups were tasked to select an influential community member as an 'Inclusion Ambassadors.'
The person would act as a link between the PWDs and the assemblies by echoing their needs at assembly meetings and other social gatherings.
This was to ensure PWDs equally participate in local governance, decision making, and community level development.
The self-help groups, together with their Inclusion Ambassadors and traditional authorities were guided to pick an inclusive project to be situated in 15 communities in the five districts which would be accessible to PWDs as well.
The beneficiary District Assembly Planning Officers were made to sign an MOU compelling the beneficiary assemblies to inculcate the selected inclusive projects into their 2018-2022 medium term development budgets.
The Programs Manager of VOICE GHANA, Charles Nyanteh, indicated that a Disability Caucus would be formed in the 5 districts made up of assembly members to intensify the inclusiveness of PWDs in local governance.
"We shall link up Inclusion Ambassadors with the Disability Caucus at each assembly so that, together they support PWDs to demand benefit from provisions of public goods and services at the community and District Assembly levels," Mr Nyanteh noted.
The Executive Director of VOICE GHANA, Francis Asong, said, "the project is contributing to achieving inclusive and open society, where beneficiary persons with disabilities will be active participants in public consultations, civic engagement and democratic governance processes, and influencing decision making at the grassroots level."
Beneficiary districts of the STAR-Ghana facilitated project have welcomed the initiative to enhance amplify the voices and issues of PWDs to enhance them participate in local governance.
The District Chief Executive for Akatsi North, Prince Sodoku Amuzu said "the disabled are also part of the community and know what is happening.
“They also have needs and all of us are disabled in the making, anything can happen and you will lose your sight. This is why we are committed to the success of the project," he said.
Chief of Chiaso in the Nkwanta South District, Nana Kpolah, appreciated the project for providing the platform for PWDs to be involved in the selection process of an inclusive project which would be factored into the assembly's Medium Term Development Plan and implemented.
"This is actually the first time we have experienced something like this and we are really delighted about the project," he said.