Ho, April 13, GNA - A project initiated in the Volta Region in 2012 to draw people with disabilities into political events is likely to shake-off apathy of the disabled towards politics in Ghana in the coming years.
The project, executed in Agortime-Ziope, Adaklu and South-Dayi, constituencies, sought to raise the confidence levels of people with disabilities to participate in politics, tackle issues of physical access of the disabled to political events, including political party rallies and polling stations.
The project also lobbied the Electoral Commission of Ghana, EC, to engage the physically challenged for the various jobs in the electoral process.
VOICE-Ghana, which is a disability interest advocacy group, headquartered in Ho, undertook the project, supported by Strengthening Transparency, Accountability and Responsiveness in Ghana, (STAR-Ghana), with funds from the DFID, EU, DANIDA and USAID.
Presenting an overview of the project in an interaction with the Ghana News Agency, Mr Francis Asong Director of VOICE-Ghana, said the project was based on a 'baseline survey in the Agortime-Ziofe and Adaklu constituencies to ascertain the level of participation of persons with disabilities in the previous elections particularly the 2008 general elections'.
He said the survey indicated that people with disabilities were sidelined in the political process, hardly visible in the campaign processes and virtually had no opportunities to work as Polling Assistants.
Mr Asong said as part of the advocacy, VOICE-Ghana, organized the disabled in the project areas, engaged the EC and the media in a series of education, awareness creation, outreach and publicity events.
He said concerns raised during such forums include inaccessibility to political party rally venues and offices, the shunning of issue of disability as policy issues and election related jobs for the disabled.
Mr Asong said the advocacy also targeted persons with disabilities at the grassroots level, particularly women to raise their involvement in national assignments.
He said 18 people with disabilities were engaged as Polling Assistants during the last elections as a result of the project.
Mr Asong said one of them, Ms Patricia Deku, 36, a Dressmaker with National Vocational Training Institute (NVTI) qualification who was a Polling Assistant at the Salvation Army Primary School Polling Station at Adaklu-Abuadi was cited by her supervisors as 'very efficient'.
Togbe Gabi II, a Tutor at Adaklu-Waya Senior High School and Presiding Officer, said Ms Deku ensured that the structural arrangements at the polling centre were disability friendly.
The VOICE-Ghana overview report referred to Ms Deku as saying the job of a Polling Assistant in the past elections raised her social standing and probably encouraged many other disabled people to exercise their franchise.
Mr Jonathan Okaine, Agortime-Ziope District Director of the EC, told the GNA that some of the disabled engaged in the last elections by the EC performed well and could be good candidates for selection the next time if 'they made themselves available'.