23 November 2012

Ghana: PWDs Threaten Election Boycott Over Unpaid DACF

With barely two weeks to the December general elections, members of the Ghana Federation of the Disabled in the Upper East Region have threatened they would boycott the polls if their 3% of the District Assembly Common Fund (DACF) in the Talensi and Nabdam districts is not released.

The federation also says having been coping with various forms of abuse and discrimination, its members have decided to speak out and demand their rights from duty bearers, who have a mandate to promote their rights, as contained in the 1992 Constitution, and various human rights instruments Ghana has ratified.

While commending President John Mahama for the directive to increase the District Common Fund allocation from 2% to 3%, and for openly advocating the inclusion of PWDs, the federation is also urging the President to, as a matter of urgency, take steps to retrieve their share of the DACF allocation in the Talensi and Nabdam Districts which have not been paid to the beneficiaries, pass a Legislative Instrument to fully operationalise the PWD Act 715 passed in 2006 to bring an end to the gross violation of the provisions from the construction of health section with impunity, and amend the disbursement procedure to make PWDs signatories to the 3% DACF account.

Madam Josephine Koumkugri, a member of the Ghana Federation of the Disabled, at a news conference in Bolgatanga, said members of the federation had, therefore, resolved that by November 30, 2012, if their grievances were not addressed, President Mahama and all incumbent members of parliament (MPs) should forget their votes in the December polls.

Meanwhile, in a related development, the Australian High Commissioner to Ghana, His Excellency William Billy Williams, has pledged to deepen the relationship in disabled sports between his country and Ghana.

H.E William Billy Williams said Australia was committed to providing the same opportunity to everybody, no matter where the individual comes from, by providing the disabled in the Upper East Region with sports equipment.

The High Commissioner said this on Wednesday, when he visited the Persons With Disability (PWDs) Sports project dubbed, "We know sports: PWDs in active sports project," as part of his four-day tour of the Northern and Upper East regions.

The Australia High Commission, for the past years, has assisted the Upper East Region's PWDs sports wing with equipment, including 12 sports wheelchairs, four javelins, three shot puts and three discuses at a cost of GH¢ 23,661. The support is under the watch of Rural Initiatives for Self-Empowerment (RISE) Ghana, a Bolgatanga-based non-governmental organisation (NGO).

The High Commissioner commended RISE Ghana for their efforts at promoting an inclusive society, and called on Persons With Disabilities to use their skills to contribute to the betterment of society.

He announced that this year, the Australian High Commission was providing about GH¢500,000 in small grants to communities in Ghana, and countries in the sub-region, in sectors such as water and sanitation, renewable energy, education and agriculture.

His Excellency William Billy Williams said the projects demonstrated Australia's on-going commitment to deepening its engagement with Ghana, and across a full spectrum of issues, including strengthened diplomatic links, increased development assistance, trade and commercial activity and greater people-to-people links.

The Project Manager of Rural Initiatives for Self-Empowerment (RISE) Ghana, Mr. Awal Ahmed, said his outfit exists to ensure a world in which human rights and environmental sustainability informed all actions to empower people to live in dignity.

RISE Ghana has been working with poor people's movements such as PWDs, female headed households, orphaned and vulnerable children, and farmer-based organisations to empower them access and utilise the social and human resources they need to become self-reliant.

According to Mr. Awal, the 12,310 Australian dollar support the PWDs has significantly contributed to the development and promotion of disability sports, disability rights, and inclusive sports in the region.

The Upper East Regional Sports Development Officer, Ewuntomah Iddrisu, pledged to make good use of the sports equipment, and called for assistance from the Australian High Commission.

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