June 16, 2024

ECOWAS unveils action plan for disability inclusion in West Africa (2022-2030)


The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has validated a groundbreaking Regional Action Plan for the Inclusion of People with Disabilities for the 2022-2030 period.

This significant milestone was reached following a two-day hybrid meeting involving ministers responsible for disability inclusion, which concluded on June 6, 2024, in Abuja, Nigeria.

The ministers endorsed the plan and recommended it to the ECOWAS Council of Ministers for adoption. They pledged their support for implementing the plan in their respective countries. Key recommendations included examining the creation of an ECOWAS Agency for Disability Inclusion, promoting the recruitment of people with disabilities within the ECOWAS Commission, and increasing support for providing essential equipment to all member states.

Additionally, the ministers urged their countries to enhance efforts to promote disability inclusion, improve data collection on disabilities, and foster partnerships with the private sector and development partners to mobilize resources.

A major highlight was the call to ratify the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in Africa, noting the low ratification rate within West Africa. Currently, only one African country has signed and ratified this Protocol.

The ECOWAS Commissioner for Human Development and Social Affairs, Professor Fatou Sow Sarr, reaffirmed the organization’s commitment to leading and coordinating resources to support member states in executing the plan. In a ceremonial gesture, Nigeria’s Senior Special Adviser to the President on Special Needs and Equal Opportunities, Mohammed Abah Issa, presented a plaque to participants, marking the official launch of the ‘Beyond Disability’ project aimed at enhancing inclusion and accessibility in Nigeria.

This comprehensive action plan, developed from an ECOWAS-commissioned study launched in August 2021, focuses on improving the inclusion of people with disabilities across all facets of the ECOWAS Commission’s work, enhancing the legal and policy framework, and strengthening regional partnerships to mobilize necessary resources.

The plan is expected to significantly improve the living conditions and societal participation of people with disabilities in West Africa.

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