The Social Welfare and Community Development [SW&CD] District Directorate in the Kassena-Nankana West District of the Upper East Region this Thursday morning, disbursed a little over 75,000 Ghana Cedis to some 42 beneficiaries selected from across the district.

The monies were drawn from the Disability Fund, a component of Ghana’s District Assemblies’ Common Fund, which has been set aside solely to address issues relating to disability and other concerns of persons living with disabilities [PWDs]. The Disability Fund began on an initial two percent [2%] proportion of the Common Fund and later got raised to three percent [3%] resulting from relentless advocacy efforts by PWDs and some like-minded civil society organisations.

In her opening remarks at the brief disbursement ceremony held at the premises of the Assembly, District Director of the SW & CD, Madam Victoria Asuliwono disclosed that the beneficiaries numbered 42 in total; comprising 21 females and 21 males. She added that, the beneficiaries were to each receive cheque payments ranging from a least of 1,800.00 Ghana Cedis to a high of 4,200.00 Ghana Cedis. Meanwhile, some other 92 PWDs were currently pursing education at various educational institutions all under the sponsorship of the Disability Fund.

According to Madam Asuliwono, the disbursed amounts resulted from several applications that were submitted to her office and which were duly scrutinized by the District PWD Fund Management Committee and details of the beneficiaries then forwarded for processing, culminating in the eventual disbursement on Thursday. She revealed that whilst some of the recipients stated that they were to use their monies to procure assistive devices, hearing aids and some basic provisions, others planned to invest their own share in weaving, dressmaking and petty trading.

The SW & CD Director described the day as “a special day for us in our department and for us all”, and further stated that, “the intent and purpose of the disbursements was to actually enable the PWDs to undertake some form of business within their strength and capabilities that would bring them a better life and a dignified living”. She empahsised that, the support was coming from the government and commended the District Chief Executive [DCE] fro always being alive and up to the beat, regarding the fast-tracking of processes to ensure the quick and smooth disbursement of the Fund to the district’s PWDs populations who passed the test to benefit,  one at a time.

Madam Asuliwono also revealed that in the recent past, some 12 similar disbursements had been done to PWDs across the district and pledged that as far as government continues to lodge funds in their accounts, the periodic disbursements would continue and in time, all PWDs would be able to receive their due from the Disability Fund. She however warned the PWDs; “this Fund is not for fun” and that, there were very good measures put in place to check against misapplication of the funds so disbursed and culprits, to be sanctioned appropriately. She explained for instance that, each beneficiary had to fill an application form stating what exactly he/she would do with the funds, then the Committee vets and “settles on who can benefit at a time, the reason being that, the money cannot reach everybody”. “So when you take the money, please put it into good use”, she stressed.

Kassena-Nankana DCE, Hon. Gerard Ataogye who also addressed the beneficiaries assured that, he will take personal interest in joining the Fund Monitoring Team to the field to see for himself, what beneficiaries would be doing with the money; for it is only when positive outcomes abound that there will be the justification for government to continue injecting more money into the Disability Fund. He told the PWDs, “I want to plead with you, when you pick the money, do not misuse it. When you are going to the bank, make sure you have somebody you trust that will help you cash your money”.

Hon. Ataogye also cautioned the PWDs against the use of names, different from the ones they have registered on their Ghana Cards, a concern raised earlier by Mr. Osman Zida, the District Finance Officer, as this phenomenon poses challenges in the financial administration and processing of payments. Meanwhile, the DCE gave the assurance that he will use his good office to guarantee a special and speedy registration for all PWDs in the district that were ready and willing to procure the Ghana Card, which has since become a very necessary requirement for all banking transactions in  Ghana.

He warned the aids of the PWDs not to attempt stealing funds meant for the beneficiaries as they would be found out and dealt with. The beneficiaries too have been advised not to gift any officers of the Assembly any portion of their monies because they did not owe the staff any such favours for the disbursement of the funds.

Upper East Regional President of the PWDs Mr. Mark Akolbire Atia in a word to the beneficiaries noted that, PWDs will always remain a part and parcel of the Ghanaian society as their contributions to national development could not be underestimated. He thus commended the DCE for ensuring that one of their members was included in the list of government appointees to the newly inaugurated Assembly about a week ago, saying that opportunity ensured that, PWDs had a place in the decision making process and governance at the local level.



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