The Abuakwa North Municipality, like any rural district, has a number of factors that predispose people to vulnerability. Vulnerability, in simple term connotes people in a given local setting, who are most likely to be negatively affected by human or natural induced risks or shocks with adverse repercussions on their well-being and therefore need to be given special attention when programmes and policies are designed and implemented. It focuses on injustices and other circumstances that expose individuals and groups to vulnerable life situations, affecting their future prospects, denying them a peaceful life, and threatening their health and sense of dignity.
Vulnerability is a relational process that must be understood in its local, national and global context. In the case of Abuakwa North, the vulnerable and excluded include the disabled, peasant farmers, the aged, rural women and children, people living with HIV/AIDS, orphans, vulnerable children in farming areas and people living in disaster prone areas.
Persons with Disabilities (PWD) have been defined as those who are unable to or are restricted in the performance of specific tasks/activities due to loss of function of some part of the body as a result of impairment or malformation. In the broadest category and for purposes of policy and accountability, Persons with Disability within the Municipality have been grouped into three; Visually Impaired, Deaf and Dumb and Physically Challenged. Chapter six focuses on disability in the district. The chapter analyses issues on the population with disability with respect to sex, locality of residence and activity status to aid in decision making.
Population with disability
It should be noted that, data on disability is a multiple response data and therefore total types of disability will not produce population with disability. The no of Persons Living with Disability (PWDs) in the municipality as per the 2010 PHC is approximately 3430 accounting for 3.5 percent of the entire population of the municipality. For the sexes, there is a higher proportion of female population with disability compared to their male counterpart (3.8% against 3.2%).
Type of Disability
According to the 2010 PHC, more than a third (38.2%) of PWDs is visually impaired, and about a third (31.1%) challenged with physical impairment. Again about a third of PWDs either suffer from emotional disabilities (15.1%) or speech disabilities (15.0%). While about a tenth of PWDs is either identified with one of the challenges.
For the sexes, proportion of females with PWD attributable to visual impairment and emotional challenges (48.9% and 20.9% respectively) is relatively higher compared to their male counterparts (46.5% and 16.7% respectively). However, more males have speech impairment (22.8% against 17.7%) and physical disability (31.0% against 30.3%) compared with females.
Disability by Type of Locality
The locality of residence of persons with disability has impact on their ability to access social services. This is particularly critical in Ghana, as most of the social service agencies are concentrated in the urban areas.
As shown in Table 1.47, disability varies by locality of residence in the district. The table indicates that relatively more persons with disability reside in the urban areas (3.8%) than in rural areas (3.1%). The commonest kind of disability in both localities is visual impairment, with urban areas (38.8%) having relatively higher proportion of PWDs than that of rural areas (37.1%). Moreso, almost twice the number of physically challenged persons living in the rural areas (675) constitute the population of physically challenged persons residing in urban areas (1,148).
Disability and Economic Activity
Analysis of data on the economic activity status of persons with disability in the municipality shows that 3.3 percent of the employed population in the district constitutes persons with disability, while 8.0 percent of the economically not active population is PWDs. Considerably high employment rates exist among population with visual impairment (44.7%), Hearing (41.4%) and Emotional challenge (49.7%). Unemployment is relatively high persons with emotional challenge (4.5%) as their main disability. Furthermore, the proportion of PWDs who may not have sought for employment because of their disability is relatively higher among physical impairment (66.5%) and intellectual (63.3%). A similar distributional pattern can be observed for the sexes, female PWDs being more disadvantaged.
Disability, Education and Literacy
The general educational status among the disabled population in the district is very low. Available data indicates the educational level attained by PWDs 3 years and older in the district. The data show that 5,713 persons constituting 3.7 percent of population 3 years and older in the district are PWDs. More than half (54.8%) of this total have basic school certificate, 13.3 percent has either secondary or senior high school certificate, and 1.8 percent attained primary school level.
Furthermore, almost 30 percent has never attended school, with a greater proportion of them being females (69.8%). Among the various disabilities, more than half of the persons living with Emotional (57.3%), Sight (54.8%), Speech (50.9%) and Hearing (50.4%) have attained basic level of education. In further analysis, the same proportions (13.3%) of those living with sight and emotional challenges have had either post-secondary or bachelor degree or postgraduate. The low percentage of PWDs with high level of education should stimulate policy on scholarships for such population for further education.
Barriers Faced By Physically Challenged
Persons living with disabilities face both environmental and attitudinal barriers. The situations and circumstances where the physically challenged face difficulties include public transport, access to public building/facilities, pedestrian streets, offices and factories, places of worship, access to information among others. Attitudinal barriers are less obvious but they can inhibit the disabled from achieving daily ideas. The physically challenged are automatically assumed to be incapable, embittered, tragedy-stricken, in need of cure, of low intelligence and aggressive. They are sometimes excluded in many areas of society. These include the family, religion, education, health service, social services, class system, employment and political system.
Since there are no mining communities in the Municipality, farm lands are protected from illegal mining activities but a greater percentage of peasant farmers within the Municipality are poor folks who cannot increase production beyond the subsistence level. The situation affects wealth creation and often results in high school drop-out among children of the peasant farmers which therefore calls for strategic intervention measures such the school feeding program, capitation grant, fertilizers and subsidies.
Issues on Child Welfare
The United Nations convention on the child defines a child as a person between the ages of 0 and 14 years. However, according to the Children’s Act 1998 Part 1, Sub-Part 1, Section 1, Ghana recognizes the age cohorts of 0 – 17 to cover children, that is, a person below 18 years. Children are generally classified as vulnerable in most instances because they are the most affected in the home and community, whenever there is violence, assaults, broken homes and other forms of abuses, risks and shocks.
Records at the Municipal Health Directorate indicate that 12 percent of children in the Municipality are malnourished with a major percentage coming from the deprived rural areas. The issue of malnutrition can therefore be seen as a factor of poverty. It also explains the poor academic performance in the rural schools. To this end, implementation of the school feeding proramme and capitation grant would go a long way to help address some of the challenges associated with children’s welfare.
Child neglect, labour and abuse still remain a major vulnerability issue in the Municipality. Communities with dominant child labour situation are mostly the Cocoa growing areas. A field survey indicate that about 18% of school-going children are involved in various forms of manual labour comprising galamsey in nearby district communities, farming and trading at the peril of their health and education. Reported cases of child abuse rose from 9 in 2014 to 12 in the first quarter of 2017. The situation therefore requires concerted efforts and specific interventions to address the issues.
Besides these, some children find themselves in difficult circumstances as a result of the following shocks, death of parents, abandonment and separation of parents and therefore require varied forms of policy interventions by the Assembly. Even though the assembly is yet to take records on street children, a cursory observation of the phenomenon indicates its prevalence in Tafo, the commercial town. This is due to migration of children from the nearby villages to the area. Teenage pregnancy is also a major phenomenon prevailing especially in Kukurantumi as a result of the increase in nonboardinised educational institutions.
Below is the number of Juvenile offenses, custody and maintenance cases reported within the Abuakwa North Municipality based on Social Welfare statistics derived from Family Tribunal Sittings at the Tafo Magistrate Court from 2016 to September 2018. From the table it could be seen that for the period, family reconciliation and maintenance cases recorded the highest cases at 23, followed by Juvenile offenses (all stealing cases) at 6, and custody at 5.
For the same period, the total number of cases (maintenance, custody, juvenile offenses) for 2018 has been the highest at 14 (all maintenance cases) followed by the year 2016 at 11 cases and then 2017 the least at 9 cases. Even though the number of reported cases in 2018 seems to have short up slightly it can be said that the general number of reported cases within the Municipality is significantly low.
This may be due to the fact that many people are still ignorant of their rights to arbitration and also the unwillingness of many people to seek redress at the court of jurisdiction basically because of fear of victimization, tradition, culture and other factors. This means that a lot of people prefer to keep matters to themselves or deal with it at the traditional level than to seek court intervention. In all these children are among the group who are affected the most. Education is needed to sensitize people on the need to seek the intervention of the court of law so that many of the injustices which are covered due to the aforementioned reasons.
Interventions to mitigate vulnerability
For some time now, programmes for the vulnerable have been included in the municipal plans. Especially in the GSGDA, prominence has been given to the design, establishment and implementation of systems that provide resources to ameliorate conditions of extreme poverty and social deprivation.
Within the erstwhile East Akim Municipality, there exist systems that take care of some of the needs of the vulnerable and excluded across board. Two of such systems worth mentioning are now within the jurisdiction of the Abuakwa South Municipality; the Asiakwa SOS centre/home which has provided avenues for caring and training of orphans and also the Kibi School for the Deaf. The Ark Foundation located in Mid-Tafo is also into girl-child empowerment programmes aimed at equipping vulnerable girls with skills of survival. The NHIS is also collaborating with the Assembly to offer free registration for children, indigents, pregnant women and all the LEAP beneficiaries.
The Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection has also rolled out the LEAP programme in about 16 communities with a target beneficiary household population of about 1200. As at the second quarter of 2017, 459 households were benefiting under the intervention of which 67 had been registered under the NHIS. It is important to note that following the division of the District, only 2 out of the 16 communities represented by 6 households and 39 beneficiaries fell within the Abuakwa North Municipality with the larger percentage falling out to her sister district, Abuakwa South. However, these numbers have increased significantly in 2018 as the program seeks to expand its operations in scope and beneficiaries as we shall in the LEAP analysis shortly.
It is also worth mentioning that as part of in its mandate to bring development to the people through agriculture, industrialization and human resource development, and as a policy intervention to deal with vulnerability among the youths, the Municipality has launched a pilot program in 2018 dubbed “School for Life” – A youth Literacy program aimed at alleviating youth illiteracy and unemployment among affected youth in the Municipality from the ages of 15 to 45years by offering them basic lessons in English Language, Mathematics and Entrepreneurship in order to empower and absorb them into mainstream development.
In spite of these, a lot requires to be done with respect to the coverage of the poorest groups, the aged, people living with HIV/AIDS, people orphaned by HIV/AIDS and PWDs. There is also the need to continuously strengthen and reconcile families, identify the needs of persons with disability and support them, provide hospital services for patients, eliminate worse form of child labour, conduct investigations into child custody cases and also to conduct social enquiries on children in conflict with the law. There is also the need to partner other NGO’s to support the needs of the vulnerable in the society. Table 1.57 shows the vulnerability analysis and response mechanisms in the municipality.
Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP)
The Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty Programme is a social cash transfer program which provides cash and health insurance to extremely poor households across Ghana to alleviate short-term poverty and encourage long term human capital development. The program which started in 2016 in the municipality saw only two beneficiary communities from the Abuakwa North Constituency namely; Old Tafo and Osiem. being implemented by the Department of Social Protection and Community Development under the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection. In 2016, 71(7%) households were paid out of the total of 1,026 households selected to benefit from the programme. 67 out of the 459 current beneficiaries have also been registered under the national health insurance scheme and have been issued with ID cards for free. Table 1.52 shows the breakdown of beneficiaries in 2017.
The above table covers statistics on LEAP beneficiaries within the municipality under the erstwhile East Akim Municipal Assembly. Out of the 16 communities, only 2 (i.e. Old Tafo and Osiem) comprising of 6 households and 39 beneficiaries fell within the Abuakwa North Municipality whilst the remaining 14 communities comprising of 65 households and 420 beneficiaries fell out to her sister district, Abuakwa South. In terms of percentage that means only 8.5% of beneficiaries fell within Abuakwa North, with 91.5% fell within Abuakwa South.
However, the numbers within the Abuakwa North Municipality has been affected positively and significantly following the expansion of the LEAP program in 2018. The number of Communities have now increased from 2 to 9, the number of households from 6 to 239 and the total number of beneficiaries from 39 to 1160 as indicated in the table below. This means well for the Municipality as many more people will be empowered against poverty and enhance their living standards and ultimately reduce the number of people within the poverty bracket.
Support to People With Disabilities (PWDs)
The 2010 Population and Housing Census report puts the percentage of People with Disabilities (PWDs) in the erstwhile East Akin Municipality of which the Abuakwa North Municipality was a part of, at 3.5% comprising of 3.2% males as against 3.8% females. This makes support to such vulnerable section of the Municipal population imperative. To this end, the Assembly has been supporting PWDs from the PWDs Fund in the areas of economic empowerment, health, education and assistive devices among others. In 2016, a total of 144 PWDs comprising 89 males and 55 females were supported with a total amount of GH?109,602.00 in line with the Fund Management Guidelines.
Most of these beneficiaries have established small scale businesses that support them. An evaluation of the activities of most of the beneficiaries indicates that the programme is making a positive impact in the family lives of these individuals. It is expected that the funds will leverage the lives of people in this category in the municipality. The Kibi School for the Deaf which now falls within the Abuakwa South Municipality also benefit from the fund by way of vocational training equipment which are used to train the children in vocational skills.
Below are the statistics of individuals who benefited from the Disability fund within the Abuakwa North Municipal Assembly in the area of Economic Empowerment in the first quarter of 2018.
Date Created : 3/26/2019 5:29:44 AM