Authors: Anthony Kwaku Edusei, Paulina Adjei-Domfeh, Wisdom Kwadwo Mprah, Maxwell Peprah Opoku, Eric Badu, & Christopher Seth Appiah
Affiliated organizations: Centre for Disability Rehabilitation Studies; Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology
Type of publication: Research article
Date of publication: November 2016
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities defines persons with disabilities to include “those who have long-term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairments, which interacts with various barriers, and may hinder their full and effective participation in society.” In spite of the fact that persons with disabilities constitute a large proportion of the population of the world, their needs and concerns are often excluded from policy making and service provision. This exclusion creates numerous barriers for persons with disabilities and limits their participation in socioeconomic activities. As a result, many persons with disabilities lack access to social and economic resources and services, and thus have lower outcomes in terms of participation in health care, education and employment than persons without disabilities.
To alleviate poverty among persons with disabilities and to increase their participation in socioeconomic activities, various policy and programmatic interventions have been implemented by the government of Ghana over the past decade. Social protection, in the form of cash transfers, is one of the programs being implemented to reduce poverty in the country, and it is increasingly becoming an important initiative in combating poverty among persons with disabilities.
However, data on the implementation, challenges, and the impact of the DCF on the beneficiaries are scanty in many of the local government areas. This study was therefore aimed at providing some information about the use of the fund and its impact on beneficiaries in Kumasi Metropolitan (the second largest local government area in Ghana), and to make recommendations on how it could be improved.
Most of the respondents (80%) were from Disabled People Organizations (DPOs) such as Ghana Society of the Physically Disabled, Ghana Blind Union and Ghana National Association of the Deaf. About half (50.4%) of the respondents were above 40 years while a few of them (2%) were between 10 and 20 years. The average age of the respondents was 28 years. With respect to respondents’ educational status, 15% had no formal education while 16.7% had tertiary education. On respondents’ marital status, 41.7% were single while less than 5% were co-habiting. In addition, 53 respondents, constituting over 40% had no job.
Disbursement of Funds and Expenditure
It was found that 59.9% of the respondents had received the fund for one year whereas only 2.8% indicated they have been receiving the fund for four years. However, on how often they received the fund, a majority (73%) said they received it once a year whereas 10.8% said they received it quarterly. In relation to the amount received, about half respondents (52.3%) stated that they received between Ghana Cedis [GHC] 200-500 whereas 7.3% received above GHC 1000.
The study also sought information on the monthly expenditure of respondents focusing on the amount spent on healthcare, education and food. For monthly expenditure on food, less than 10% of the respondents indicated spending between GHC 450-600. For healthcare, 10% spent between GHC 23-28 while less than 5% spent between GHC 5-10. In relation to education, 20.4% spent between GHC 250-300 on their dependents while 15.3% indicated spending between GHC 100-150.
Delays in Releasing the Fund
One of the major challenges identified was delays in releasing funds, which affected the utilization of the fund. All the respondents indicated that sometimes they did not receive the fund on time. For example, some claimed they had not received the fund for more than two years while some claimed they had not received it at all. The following are some of the written comments from the respondents:
“The funds do not come regularly as it was proposed.”
“The funds do not come regularly as it was proposed. The initial arrangement was that the fund should come quarterly. However, taking 2014 as an example, only two tranches out of the four came. Currently we are almost entering the first quarter of 2015 but have still not received it (A physically disabled male respondent).”
“The money is supposed to come quarterly but mostly it comes once a year and even that there are times we were told government did not release any fund to the district assembly and so there was no fund available for us (A female deaf respondent).“
“It is worrying that they have named the fund for disabled persons but we do not get it”
“I have been applying for the fund for the past five years but I’m yet to be given anything. I know few people who are benefiting from the fund. It is worrying that they have named the fund for disabled persons but we do not get it and no one is telling us what is happening to our money (A male visually impaired respondent).”
Insufficiency of the Fund
Another challenge which was mentioned by the respondents was the insufficiency of the fund, making it hard for beneficiaries to invest the money received in useful ventures. Some of the written comments suggest that beneficiaries were displeased with the amount they received:
“I know the common fund can’t help all of us”
“I know the common fund can’t help all of us. I wanted to make a container so I informed them but they didn’t give me enough money to make it. They only gave me GH 500. I begged them to provide me with an amount I could use for the container and I also will work-out for the things I wanted to sell but they didn’t do it (A male deaf respondent).”
“My mother is in the village she buys goods from there and sells them in the city. If I should decide to join her for such business, GH 500 is too small to buy much good to come and sell. I always complain at our meetings. I asked them more questions but they don’t give me any good answer. Sometimes they refuse to answer me (A female deaf respondent).”
Implications of the Study
The study has implications for cash transfer programs in Ghana. Firstly, the finding that many of the participants had low educational attainment and were without employment points to the need to institute programs to promote education and employment of persons with disabilities. The Education Ministry should team up with other ministries and agencies such as the ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection to increase access to education for persons with disabilities.
It was found that the DCF was not released on time and, as a result, beneficiaries would have to wait for a long time for the fund to be released. It is therefore recommended that the Ministry of Finance should release the DCF quarterly as spelt out in the guidelines for disbursement of the fund. This will enable beneficiaries to receive the funds early for their planned activities. It is also suggested that the quota of the District Assembly Common Fund allocated to persons with disabilities should be increased from the current 2% to 5%.
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