Experts seek ECOWAS support for Member States to fast track the signing and ratification of the African Union Protocol on Disability14 Oct, 2022
The regional coordination and training meeting of regional experts and focal points for the inclusion of persons with disabilities in West Africa ended on Wednesday 12 October 2022 in Accra, Ghana. One main recommendation made by participants during the meeting was the call on the ECOWAS Commission to provide support to Member States to fast track the signing and ratification of the African Union Protocol on Disability.
The experts from Member States also requested ECOWAS support for the preparation of the preliminary and periodic reports of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), as prescribed in the ECOWAS Regional Action Plan on the Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities in West Africa. The Accra meeting further recommended that ECOWAS should mobilise resources to assist Member States to implement programmes for the inclusion of persons with disabilities.
Addressing Member States of the West African regional body, the meeting urged governments to develop tools for the collection and dissemination of disaggregated data on disability, with a view to facilitating policy formulation and national planning. Member States were also urged to collaborate with development partners, including the private sector, to mobilise technical and financial assistance for disability integration programmes. Lastly, they are to ensure that persons with disabilities are appointed as heads of national disability agencies or structures, as well as lead delegations at meetings relating to the inclusion of persons with disabilities, as stipulated by the principle “Nothing About Us, Without Us”.
Delivering his address at the closing ceremony, Ambassador Baba Gana Wakil, ECOWAS Resident Representative in Ghana pointed out that many important issues that need to be tackled with diligence by all stakeholders were raised. These include the need to continue to build the capacity of disability inclusion experts, to canvass for the support of national and regional policy makers for increased budget allocation for the implementation of disability inclusive programmes.
Ambassador Baba Gana Wakil commended participants for their effective contributions and active participation in the proceedings. He also thanked the African Union, the UN Regional Office for Human Rights, and the expert, Danlami Basharu, for their contributions to the success of the proceedings.
It should be noted that other speeches were read at the closing ceremony, namely (i) that of Ms Paula Saad, Director General of Social Inclusion of Guinea Bis-sau, Representative H.E. General Umaro Sissoko Embalo, President-in-Office of the CouncilConference of ECOWAS Heads of State and Government, (ii) Meeting of African Union Expert Lephoko Kasamang, representing Ambassador Cessouma Minata Samaté, African Union (AU) Commissioner for Health, Humanitarian Affairs and Social Development, (iii) Esther Akua GYAMFI, Executive Secretary of the National Council for Persons with Disabilities in Ghana.