PwD Community in Bong Calls for Decentralization of National Commission on Disabilities

By Enouch Dormue, Journalists Network On Disability Reporting |

In the aftermath of the recent appointment of Mr. Samuel S. Dean, Sr as the new Executive Director of the National Commission on Disabilities by Joseph Nyuma Boakai, the People with Disabilities (PwDs) community in Bong County wants the commission to critically consider the decentralization of its activities as a major priority under the new dispensation.  The PwD community believes that decentralization would ensure better representation and support for people with disabilities across various regions of the country.

The National Commission on Disability (NCD, established to address issues related to disability rights and welfare, currently operates from the capital city, Monrovia. However, individuals with disabilities residing in remote areas often face significant challenges in accessing the services and resources provided by the commission.

According to the PwD community in Bong, the centralized structure of the NCD contributes to disparities in assistance and advocacy efforts. Many individuals with disabilities living outside Monrovia struggle to have their voices heard and their needs addressed effectively.

“We need the government to understand that disability rights are not just an urban issue; they affect every corner of our nation. Decentralizing the National Commission on Disability would ensure that our concerns are not overlooked and that support reaches those who need it most’’, remarked Mr. Lawrence Tokpa, a visually impaired resident of Gbarnga.

Mr. Tokpa further thinks the decentralization of the NCD activities would involve establishing regional offices or branches in various parts of Liberia where these offices would serve as hubs for providing assistance, advocacy, and information tailored to the specific needs of the local PwD communities.

The PwD community in Bong further emphasized decentralization would promote inclusivity and empower individuals with disabilities particularly outside Monrovia to actively participate in decision-making processes at the grassroots level and could facilitate more efficient resource allocation and service delivery, addressing the unique challenges faced by different PwD communities in each county of Liberia.

Despite the call for the National Commission on Disabilities to decentralize its impact and reach, the institution itself has been grabbing with some challenges including limited budgetary allocation by the national government and staffing capacity to carry out its mandate effectively, logistical constraints to enhance monitoring and supervision, lack of accurate data on actual number PwDs nationwide to inform proper planning and limited outreach that has prevented the NCD to reach all segments of the disabled population, including those in rural and remote areas.

As part of the commission’s mandate consistent with the Act establishing the National Commission on Disabilities (NCD) by the 51st National Legislature of the Republic of Liberia in November 2005, NCD was established to have jurisdiction over matters involving and appertaining to the welfare and wellbeing of PWDs including but not limited to carrying out empowerment through Capacity Building, Small Business, Livelihood Skills, Medical, Educational Support through School aids, result driven Programs and Projects, Advocacy, Monitoring and Supervising the effective delivery of social services within the territorial confines of Liberia.

The NCD currently works with Seventy-Eight (78) Organizations of Persons with Disabilities (OPWDs) and subsidize them through Budgetary Support. As discussions on the future of the National Commission on Disability continue, the voices of people with disabilities and their allies grow louder, demanding meaningful reforms that prioritize accessibility, representation, and empowerment for all.

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