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ECOWAS stakeholders meet to adopt action plan on PWDs inclusion

Ministers in charge of People With Disabilities (PWDs) in ECOWAS member states and experts are meeting in Abuja to adopt the regional bloc’s action plan…

Ministers in charge of People With Disabilities (PWDs) in ECOWAS member states and experts are meeting in Abuja to adopt the regional bloc’s action plan on the social inclusion of PWDs.
Speaking at the opening ceremony of the meeting in Abuja on Wednesday, the ECOWAS Commissioner of Human Development and Social Affairs, Prof. Fatou Sow Sarr, said: “With the adoption of this Action Plan on the Inclusion of People with Disabilities, a further step is taken in the realisation of Vision 2050, towards the ECOWAS of the peoples”.
She said the action plan tagged “Regional Action Plan on Disability Inclusion in West Africa – 2022-2030”, covers three main priority areas of action to further strengthen disability inclusion in ECOWAS and its member states.
“The three priority areas which include activities, verifiable results and timeline are improving disability inclusion across all aspects of the work of the ECOWAS Commission, improvement of the legal and policy environment for the inclusion of people with disabilities and strengthened regional partnerships for increased resource mobilisation for the inclusion of people with disabilities,” Prof Sarr said.
Knowing that Persons with disability are vulnerable and living in most cases in precariousness, the ECOWAS Commission has intensified its collaboration with the national and regional associations of persons with disabilities and organised various awareness forums for PWDs, she said.
“Currently, we are implementing a pilot project which covers two ECOWAS member states which are Togo and Nigeria, and this program will provide assistive devices to children with disabilities and is expected in the future, to cover all member states this is an invaluable opportunity not only to reaffirm our commitment to the provisions of Article 9 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities the Sustainable Development Goals and the vision of ECOWAS 2050,” she said.
Declaring the meeting open, the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, Abel Enitan, said Nigeria had demonstrated a strong commitment to implementing the United Nations Convention on the Rights of People With Disabilities (CRPD) which was ratified in 2007.
While commending ECOWAS for the move to adopt the action plan, he called for the establishment of the ECOWAS Agency for Disability Affairs.
“In order to make ECOWAS an all-inclusive region for persons with disabilities in member states, Nigeria is calling for the establishment of the ECOWAS Agency for Disability Affairs (EADA), to integrate regional disability policies and stratrgies for rehabilitation and equal opportunity in the community as well as provide a mechanism to protect, promote, support and respect the actions of people with disabilities.
“This affirmative action must be viewed through the prism of human diversity while ensuring that individuals with disabilities have as many opportunities as possible to participate in all levels of decision-making in ECOWAS…so that no one is left behind,” he said.
On his part, Mohammed Abba Isa, a senior special assistant to President Bola Tinubu on special needs and equal opportunities, commended ECOWAS for the initiative, adding that the Federal Government had ordered the implementation of ECOWAS Regional Action Plan on Disability Inclusion.
“In line with this mandate, my office has initiated the Beyond Disability Project to help drive the ECOWAS Regional Action Plan.
“The project is aimed to promote inclusivity and accessibility for Persons with Disabilities in Niger,” he said.

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