ECOWAS disability inclusion action plan inching towards vision 2050 realisation -Commissioner

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) says adopting a subregional disability inclusion action plan will be a step towards realizing its ‘ECOWAS of the Peoples’ Vision 2050.

Prof. Fatou Sarr, ECOWAS Commissioner, Human Development and Social Affairs, stated this at a meeting to adopt the bloc’s action plan on the social inclusion of people living with disabilities (PWDs) in Abuja on Wednesday.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the event was the maiden edition of the West African ministers in charge of PWDs.

‘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.

‘Currently, we are implementing a pilot project which covers two ECOWAS member states which are Togo and Nigeria.

‘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 to reaffi
rm our commitment to the provisions of Article 9 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child Convention and the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the Sustainable Development Goals and the vision of ECOWAS 2050,’ Sarr said.

The commissioner explained that the 2022-2030 action plan covered three main priority areas aimed at to further strengthening 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.

‘Also, 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.

‘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.

Also speaking, Mr Abel Enitan, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, lauded ECOWAS for the move to adopt the action plan.

Enitan, who is also the Acting Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management, called for the establishment of an ECOWAS Agency for Disability Affairs.

According to him, Nigeria has demonstrated a strong commitment to implementing the United Nations Convention on the Rights of People With Disabilities (CRPD), which was ratified in 2007.

‘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).

‘This is to integrate regional disability policies and strategies 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 disa

‘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 ECOWA, so that no one is left behind,’ he said.

Mr Mohammed Isa, Senior Special Assistant to President Bola Tinubu on Special Needs and Equal Opportunities, also lauded ECOWAS for the initiative, stressing that the President had directed the implementation of the action plan.

‘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,’ Isa said.

Source: News Agency of Nigeria