A survey conducted by the Savana Signatures, a non-governmental organization, has revealed that many people, especially persons living with disabilities are unable to participate in the meetings of their district assemblies because of the long distance to venues.
The assemblies must, therefore, cite the venues of their meetings at accessible locations.
Mr John Stephen Agbenyo, Executive Director of Savana Signatures, told the GNA that the survey was conducted in the Tamale Metropolis, Savelugu, Yendi and Wa Municipalities and sampled 1,288 persons.
He said 35.7 per cent of the respondents mentioned distance, 19.0 per cent blamed their disabilities and 14.1 per cent mentioned their responsibility at home as the major barriers, while 0.4 per cent and 2.2 per cent stated their gender and age, respectively, as preventing them from participating in assembly meetings and decision making.
The survey forms part of the ‘All Voices Matter, Speak up’ project, which is a mobile and social inclusive governance programme funded by STAR-Ghana and implemented by Savana Signatures in partnership with the Ghana Information Network for Knowledge Sharing (GINKS) and Amplifying Governance and Voto Mobile.
It seeks to influence government policy and planning to increase the participation of women, youth and people with disabilities (PWDs) in local governance to deepen democracy.
Mr Agbenyo said 67.1 per cent of the respondents stated that their Assemblies hardly invited them to meetings to seek their views on developmental issues and appealed to the Assemblies to be more proactive with regards to improving the participation of vulnerable groups in meetings since their views were very vital in planning.
He expressed worry that 60.7 per cent of the respondents said they were not aware of the law that gives them an opportunity to have a say in their Assemblies’ decision making processes with the youth comprising 30.99 per cent of these.
He said it was a reflection of a lack of education regarding the rights of citizens to participate in decision making.
Mr Agbenyo appealed to the assemblies to take advantage of VOTO’s technology, which could help people with disabilities, especially the physically challenged, to make their input without travelling to inaccessible meeting places.
“VOTO provides an important opportunity to bridge this distance gap without requiring multiple meetings to be held in each town, or people to travel”, he said,” he said.
Mr Abdul Hanan Gundadow, Tamale Metropolitan Chief Executive, told the GNA that the survey could not be scientific because the Assembly had representatives from across the society.
He said women, youth and people with disabilities were all represented in the Assembly and that there was a Gender Desk Officer who raises the concerns of women and some of the members are women.
Mr Gundadow said during Assembly meetings, persons who were not Assembly Members could not participate in deliberations except when it is organized for such a purpose.
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