The Departments of Social Welfare and Community Development in Wa West District Assembly have engaged Persons With Disabilities (PWDs) about how to access and use the disability common fund to improve their living conditions.
The PWDs came from Jahan College of Education, Wa School for the Blind, Wa School for the Deaf and some selected communities in the district including; Noali, Wechiau, Dorimon, Gurungu and Ponyentanga.
The two-day sensitisation programme became necessary after social welfare officials received several complaints that most PWDs were not aware of how to access the fund and the available opportunities at their disposals.
Mr Musah Gafaru, The Wa West District Social Welfare Director and Secretary to the Disability Common Fund Management Committee, told the Ghana News Agency that the Fund was meant to minimise poverty facing PWDs.
He also explained that introduction of the 3 per cent of the District Assembly Common Fund sought to enhance the wellbeing of PWDs outside the formal sector of employment and improve their economic status by helping them to engage in dignified labour.
He added that the Fund was to support income generating activities of individual PWDs as a means of economic empowerment, provide educational support for children, students and trainees with disabilities.
It was also meant to support them to have access to technical aids and other assistive devices and equipment, he added: “For Wa West, our priority areas are education, health, business, technical aids and assistive devices.”
He assured the participants that the sensitization programme had come to stay in the District and officials would always update members on the release and disbursement procedures of the Fund.
“This sensitisation is very important because we are realising the issues on the ground and the PWDs have the chance to tell us their feelings as to what we are doing well and where we need improvement. It will keep us on our toes and if we were sleeping, it will wake us up from our deep slumber,” he said.
Mr Gafaru called on other districts in the Upper West Region to implement similar programmes to help get closer to the people and also enhance transparency and accountability.
He advised PWDs to follow the right channels and procedures to be able to have access to what belongs to them.
Mr Tangkpaa Solomon, a Participant, said members of the PWD communities were facing a lot of challenges when trying to access to the Fund.
“Our major challenge is the assemblies keep telling us there is no fund or the District Assembly Common Fund is not in when and in actual sense, others [districts and regions] are benefiting,” he said: “Since 2016 till date I have been applying yet I have never been given.”
In January this year, government released GH¢28 million being common fund allocation arrears for PWDs to Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) across the country for disbursement.
The amount covers 2016 fourth quarter and 2017 first, second and third quarters.
The MMDAs were charged to equip more than 50 of the PWDs registered in the assemblies in economic and business ventures as well as provide them with working tools and equipment including freezers, sewing machines, corn-mills, pop-corn machines, barbering tools, welding and carpentry machines, shoe markets kit, hair dryers, spraying machines, bee and grass-cutter tools, poly tanks and water hose.
The assemblies were also instructed that 10 per cent of the allocation be reserved for school fees and training and another 10 per cent for medicals and assistive devices.