Ones lack of knowledge of his/her fundamental human rights such as seeking justice, accessing healthcare and formal education, the freedom to say what she/he thinks, right to vote and be voted for in an election among others, could be sickening and frustrating when confronted with any of the aforementioned situations.
Unfortunately, this seems to be the situation in Ghana particularly in the Northern parts of the country where a greater percentage of people are not well educated or well informed about their basic human rights and how to exercise them.
As a result, a lot of the people especially Persons With Disabilities [PWDs] and other vulnerable groups such as Persons Living With HIV are sometimes denied what is due them by state and private institutions.
For instance, in recent times there had been worrying reports regarding PWDs who were denied their 3 percent share of the District Assembly Common Fund [DACF] by some Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies [MMDAs]. Also, a recent survey conducted by RISE-Ghana in the Bolgatanga and Bawku Municipalities disclosed that 95 percent of public buildings were disability unfriendly and were therefore in serious contravention to Sections 6 and 7 of the PWD Act which called on owners and occupants of public buildings to make their premises disability-friendly.
Moreover, there had been reports of disabled pregnant women in the Bolgatanga Municipality who had been forced by health officials to deliver through surgery even though it was obvious that such women could deliver without any difficulty.
Against this background, the German Agency for International Cooperation [GIZ] and the Ghana Centre for Democratic Development [CDD-Ghana] is partnering with Rural Initiatives for Self Empowerment-Ghana [RISE-Ghana] under its 2013 Civil Society Support Program (CSSP) to implement a project in the Talensi District, Kasena-Nankana East, Bawku and Bolgatanga Municipalities.
The project dubbed: “Using Creative Advocacy and Stakeholder Dialogue to Promote Disability Rights and PWDs Participation in Local Governance”, sought to empower PWDs to engage in creative advocacy and alliance building to advance their rights and participate in decision-making processes.
Project Manager of RISE-Ghana Awal Ahmed at one of the training programmes, said the purpose of the project was to also equip Organisations of Persons With Disabilities [OPWDs] with necessary skills to enable them effectively engage in advocacy and dialogue aimed at advancing disability rights and increase participation of PWDs in local governance.
He explained that, it was also intended to demand accountability from duty bearers particularly the Ghana Education Service, Ghana Health Service, Members of Parliament, Ministries, Departments and Agencies and Private Sector Organisations on the progress they had made or the commitment they had towards implementing the provisions of the PWD Act [Act 715], the 2 percent DACF Guidelines and the UN Conventions on the Rights of PWDs.
As part of the implementation of the project, a series of capacity building and awareness raising programmes were recently carried out in the Kasena-Nankana East Municipality and Talensi District respectively.
Mr. Ahmed noted that, at the Kasena-Nankana East Municipality and Talensi District, a total of 44 people from four OPWD Networks including the Ghana Society For the Physically Disabled (GSPD), Ghana National Association for the Deaf, Ghana Blind Union and Ghana Association of People with Albinism participated in the training and acquired skills to engage in creative self-advocacy.
According to him, a similar sensitisation forum was also organised again in the Kasena-Nankana East Municipality and Talensi District to sensitize duty bearers on inclusive development, disability rights and provisions of the PWD Act. A total of 33 duty bearers comprising of Directors of Health Services, Education, Ghana Police Service, CHRAJ, NCCE, NBSSI, District/Municipal Assembly officials, CBOs and leadership of OPWDs among others attended the programme.