Saturday, December 22, 2012

YESDEC Trains 2,078 Youths In Upper East; Thankful Beneficiaries Appeal For Rapid Starter Pack

Ever since their once-bleak future finally arrived at a new look, thanks to a training programme offered by the Youth Enterprises and Skills Development Centre (YESDEC), two thousand seven hundred and seventy-eight (2,078) beneficiaries have been twisting with impatience for setting up. 

Beneficiaries Interact with Government Officials
They have been talking to newsmen in the Upper East Region, making their gratitude clear to YESDEC and Government, but at the same time appealing for rapid start-up funds and equipment. 

Going just one more step to provide them with their requests before the nearing December elections, many electioneering spectators say, could earn the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) Government a robust campaign bonus.    

The trainees, according to the Upper East Regional Coordinator of the YESDEC, Mr. Abakuri Issah Mohammed who spoke to newsmen in Bolgatanga in an interview, were taken through six modules including Dry-Season Farming, Specialty Beauty Care, Local Fashion and Garment, Soap Making, Guinea Fowl Rearing and Car Spraying. 

“We got 220 of the beneficiaries from the Bawku Municipality, another 220 from Bawku West, 200 from Bolgatanga, 220 from Bongo, 200 from Builsa, 220 from Garu-Tempane, 240 from Kassena-Nankana East, 260 from Kassena-Nankana West and 220 from Talensi-Nabdam,” disclosed Mr. Abakuri. “We initially trained 42 in Dry-Season Farming, 30 in Local Fashion and Garment and 6 in Car Spraying. These figures add up to 2,078 beneficiaries. It is expected that they [beneficiaries] will be self-dependant in the future,” he added.

Mr. Stephen Kampeh, one of the beneficiaries from the Kassena-Nankana East District, gladly described the training as an eye-opener that offered him a rare opportunity to learn new methods of dry-season farming. He already has a one-and-a-half acre of land where he has grown pepper. 

“Onion farming is the next thing I want to do, this time on two and a half acres,” he told this blogger. “I’m only waiting till they would provide us with equipment for the skills we have acquired,” he said.

Another beneficiary, Mr. David Atongo from the Talensi District, commended the YESDEC and the Government for coming up with the initiative to lift Ghanaians out of the quagmire of poverty. He also implored their benefactors to without delay assist the beneficiaries with equipment and capital, saying “Soap is a domestic companion. I was trained in soap-making. Government should equip us as early as possible. There can be no better time to make and sell your soap than the approaching harmattan.”

YESDEC, a subsidiary of Waste Management Giants, Zoomlion Ghana Limited, was established to facilitate the acquisition of entrepreneurial skills for the creation of sustainable businesses and as a solution to the unemployment situation in the country.

It is a multipurpose and high-technology training centre with a special focus to equip young people with income-generating skills and start-up funds as well as business advisory services. 

Story By Edward Adeti

Tindonmolgo Adopts Award Scheme For ‘Development Heroes’

The traditional leadership of the Tindonmolgo, a community in Bolgatanga, has announced a move to honour any groups and individuals who contribute to the development of the area. 

Although the nature of the award package is yet to be spelt out to the public, a statement from the leadership has affirmed that will-be recipients will be honoured every year (beginning from 2013) at the community’s festival Tindaama Daakoya Yagle Kure.

This was announced when the community gathered in celebration of its festival to crown the 2012 harvest in all traditional colours and amid a stunning show of culture. It was themed: “Education, a Tool for Accelerated Development.”

Men and women join the festival dance at Tindonmolgo
For a sparsely developed community like Tindonmolgo, many have hailed the ‘heroes award scheme’ as not only a spark to whip up gusto for a rewarding diligence internally but also a talisman to pull benevolent individuals or groups towards itself from outside for a facelift.   

“We intend to honour those who work tirelessly to develop this community every year in an event like this,” said the highly revered landowner (Tindaana) in a statement read for him by the Assemblyman for Tindonmolgo, Mr. Bawa Rasheed Agana, at the festival. “You do not need to be from this community before your good works can be recognised. We have set up a committee to monitor. You can be a social worker, teacher, health worker or a police officer. Once you have done something that is worth recognising, we would do that irrespective of where you are coming from. Trust me, your good works will surely be recognised.”

The Tindaana used the occasion to appeal to policymakers for the decongestion he said had plagued the few schools in the community by building more classrooms. He also bemoaned what he described as low-level performance at the Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE), attributing it to “poor supervision, schoolchild- apprenticeship, ineffective teaching and truancy.”

“Poverty is a contributory factor as some children also do not get food to eat not to talk of basic needs like books and uniforms,” he added. 

Another concern expressed by the landowner was the long distance travelled by the community in search of medical services for lack of a healthcare facility it can call its own.  

The event also saw the unveiling of the community’s 5-year development plan, chiming the readiness of its leadership to address its human resource, economic, social, educational and environmental challenges. The development plan has taken off already with the setting up of an educational trust fund “to deal primarily with educational matters concerning children in our community.”

Mrs. Victoria Ananzaya, Community Participation Coordinator representing the Bolgatanga Municipal Education Directorate, charged the community to invest in the education and health of its children. She particularly called on School Management Committees (SMCs) and Parents Teachers Associations (PTAs) for absolute safety and security of pupils by ensuring the fencing of schools whose compounds had become roads for vehicles and by regular emptying of disposal bins pitched close to the schools.“If the environment is not safe, how can lessons be effective?” she asked. 

Mrs. Ananzaya also advised school authorities to back up the teaching and learning of culture by inviting resource persons from the community to contribute to the subject. And at whatever time the schools decide to tour the surroundings to be well-informed on nature and the culture of the land, the community should welcome them, she added.   

Story by Edward Adeti

Thursday, December 20, 2012

SADA Launches GH¢2.7m Dry Season Farming Project At Yapei

The Savanna Accelerated Development Authourity (SADA) is investing GH¢2.7 Million into a dry season vegetable farming project at Yapei in the Central Gonja District of the Northern Region of Ghana for export into the European market.  

The project, which is being implemented by the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA), Northern Rural Growth Project (NRGP) among others with funding from SADA, would engage hundreds of kayayei returnees and other potential kayayeis who will work on a 250 acre farm as labourers.

Speaking at the launch of the project Yapei, Chief Executive Officer of SADA Alhaji Gilbert Seidu Iddi, said it was intended to make good use of the seven-month long dry season period so that the young men and women who formed a greater percentage of smallholder farmers in that part of the country, could make some better income for themselves.

The first to be cultivated, butternut squash –is one of several types of vegetables on high demand in the European market, says Nyamekye Boamah, an Agronomist with Plusone Investment Limited, a private service provider to the project.

Mr. Boamah explained that the choice of Yapei, one of many locations in Northern Ghana where similar projects were ongoing, was due to the good climatic conditions prevailing there and the areas proximity to the White Volta River which will serve as a source of irrigating the commercial farm. 

Aside butternut squash, other crops that would be planted include watermelon, seedless melon, cabbage, lettuce, sweet potato and among others. 

The Savannah Accelerated Development Authourity is a government policy initiative aimed at addressing the development gap that exists between Northern and Southern Ghana. SADA’s mandate is to accelerate the socio-economic development of the Savannah belt through strategic investment in resource development. It envisions a “Forested North” by 2030 where agricultural production is modernised and oriented towards a larger market. 

The SADA initiative has six unique pillars which include the following: development of a comprehensive regional and ecological strategy; a model for the modernisation of agriculture; development of strategic infrastructure; strong linkage between Northern Savannah and the Sahelian countries; a vigorous private sector initiative that strengthens existing private operators; and active support for Civil Society Organizations and NGOs. 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Nawuni River Faces Threat From Sand Winners

Nawuni River with destroyed banks

The Nawuni River, the main production source of potable water for residents of the Tamale Metropolis, Savelugu/Nanton Municipality as well as the Tolon and Kumbungu Districts in the Northern Region of Ghana, has come under serious environmental threat. 

Years of uncontrolled sand winning by building contractors and owners of tipper-trucks, has destroyed farmlands and the ecosystem along the river banks including economic and medicinal trees. As a result, the depth of the river has reduced drastically over the years due to silt which has incapacitated its water holding ability.

More worrying is the fact that the silting of the river is posing a great danger to residents of the aforementioned metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies (MMDAs), threatening the river’s future capacity to supply the required volume of water to about 400,000 people.

The shallowness of the river has also resulted into annual flooding of communities along its banks which sometimes have led to loss of life and property. In fact, this also reduces the amount of water the river feeds into the Akosombo Dam, the country’s major source of hydroelectric power.

A recent research conducted by the Ghanaian Developing Communities Association (GDCA) in 29 communities in the Northern Region, indicates that 190 hectares of land have already been destroyed through sand and gravel winning activities which has directly affected 177 families. In addition, 68 percent of all pits that were never reclaimed were dug by contractors and individual tipper-truck owners.

According to Sulemana Musah, GDCA’s climate change officer, the perpetrators of these negative environmental practices usually hire labour from young people in communities close to the Nawuni River where the sand is mined for monetary rewards.

Some of the communities that suffer from the debilitating effects of the sand and gravel winning include Datalon in the Tamale Metropolis and Ying, Kulidanaali, Kodugziegu and Dipali in the Savelugu/Nanton Municipality as well as Afayili, Golazoli, Yuni and Gbrimkabani all in the Tolon and Kumbungu Districts.

Other Looming Threats

Ghana has many water resources, but the amount of water available changes from season to season and from year to year. Also, the distribution within the country is far from uniform with the South-Western part better watered than the Coastal and Northern Regions, (WRC website).

However, availability of water is decreasing owing to rainfall variability, rapid population growth, increased environmental degradation, pollution of rivers and draining of wetlands. 

Indeed, Ghana currently suffers from shortages in clean drinking water, particularly in the Northern Region, where 40% (CWSA, 2009) of people use unimproved sources of drinking water. As a result, incidences of water-borne diseases such as diarrhoea, hepatitis A, typhoid, cholera and among others are common.

Waterborne diseases are spread through contaminated drinking water supply and through inadequate sanitation and hygiene practices. In the Northern Region, 37.5% of people use unprotected ponds, lakes or streams for drinking water supply. This problem is exacerbated by a lack of safe sanitation, again particularly in the Northern Region where 92% lack access to improved sanitation (VanCalcar, 2006).

The projected population of Tamale alone is about 500,000. Currently the Metropolis requires 7.5 million gallons of water daily. By 2013, according to the Ghana Water Company Limited (GWCL), it would require about 10 million gallons (45,640 cubic meters) daily.

However, environmentalists’ fear that if sand winning coupled with other negative environmental practices such as open defaecation and bad farming practices on the banks of the Nawuni River continues at the rate at which it is going, the GWCL might not be able to meet its target and the people of Tamale and the adjoining districts will suffer for it. Besides, not only would the people be deprived of safe drinking water, but fish stocks and other aquatic life in the river would also deplete. 

For instance, according to Assistant Communications Officer of GWCL Nii-Abbey Nicholas in a recent interview, it cost the company an amount of GH¢50,000.00 to procure chemicals such as alum and others to treat the water in order to ensure that it is safe for consumption. This means that the more the river is polluted, the more chemicals would be required to treat the water and the public could therefore pay more for it in future. 

He admitted to Savannahnews that the activities of the sand winners definitely was affecting the production capacity of the Nawuni River which serves as the source of raw water for treatment hence, considering the fact that the sand winning was causing too much silting on the river bed.
Nii-Abbey also confirmed that GWCL had held several meetings with the sand winners to talk to them about the dangers their activities posed to the river and the company’s installations. However, none of such engagements has yielded results and if that persist, one day the whole of Tamale and its adjoining districts would be deprived of water because the tipper trucks run over the major transmission lines when they are going to fetch the sand at the river, he added.

Profile of Nawuni 

Nawuni is a farming community situated about 40km Southwest of Tamale, the Northern Regional capital. The only way to access the community which is in the Kumbungu District is by a partly asphalted and dusty road and it takes about one and a half hours through public transport from Tamale. The community is situated close to the White Volta River also known by the locals as Nawuni River. 

Map of Black, White & Red Volta
The White Volta River is the headstream of the Volta River in West Africa. It originates in Burkina Faso and flows into Lake Volta in Ghana. Its main tributaries are the Black Volta and the Red Volta. It is also the river that villagers have to cross to get into the village called Daboya which is situated in the Northern Region of Ghana.
Nawuni was originally an Ewe settlement, surrounded by an area mostly populated by the Dagomba people. Today, the community is populated with about half Ewe, traditionally fishermen and half Dagomba, mainly farmers. 

The community's proximity to a river comes with both its advantages and disadvantages. It provides a source of water for the community. In fact, it is from Nawuni that the Savelugu Municipality, Tamale Metropolis as well as the Tolon and Kumbungu Districts pump most of their safe drinking water from. 

The water is drawn from the Nawuni River (White Volta), sent to Dalun, a bigger community nearby for treatment before transmitting it to the capitals of the aforementioned MMDAs for residents’ use. A pipe of clean water is also transmitted back to Nawuni and is accessible to the community through public taps. The river is also used for fishing, which is the main livelihood of about half of the people in the community. 

Tamale, the capital of Ghana's Northern Region, is the third largest metropolis in Ghana and the fastest growing city in West Africa. The water supply for Tamale as well as the other districts and their surrounding environs was established in 1972 with the construction of an intake on the Nawuni River and a Treatment Plant at Dalun. 

The distribution system however suffered from acute water shortage decades later and the vast majority of inhabitants of Tamale did not have access to a reliable supply of potable water. Those that were connected were subject to a programme of water rationing. The most serviced zone in Tamale only received water for two and a half days a week. 

Thus, the erstwhile NPP government in collaboration with Messer’s Biwater in 2006 initiated what was known as the Tamale Water Supply Expansion and Optimisation project to expand and rehabilitate the existing water treatment works to increase capacity from 4.5 to 10 million gallons per day; provide extensions to the distribution network; and a programme to reduce water losses through leak detection and pressure management.

The improvements included replacing the pumps in the existing water intake structure; 7 km of 600 mm raw water pipeline, installation of a new treatment plant, replacement of treated water pumps, installation of a new 22 km of 700/800 mm transmission pipeline, construction of a 20,000 m³ reservoir at Kukuo Yapalsi and 96 km of new distribution mains.

Brief Overview of National Water Situation

According to former Minister of Water Resources, Works and Housing Alban Bagbin, statistics on water availability in Ghana from measurements taken on all river systems namely; Black Volta, White Volta, Oti, Tano, Pra, Ochi, Ayensu, Densu, Ankobra, and others have it that the average annual volume of water available is about 40 billion cubic meters (about 9 billion gallons) per year. This is the amount that is replenished to the river systems annually through rainfall. In addition to these surface water resources, the country also has groundwater which quality is generally good, except for some cases of localized pollution and areas with high levels of iron, fluoride and other minerals, he added.

Speaking to stakeholders in the water sector in the Upper East Regional capital town of Bolgatanga, Mr. Bagbin recalled that from 1960 to 2010, the amount of raw water available to Ghanaians has reduced by a factor of 3. He attributed this to increase in population. Ghana’s population according to him had grown from 6.5million in 1960 to the 24million now, adding, by the annual population growth rate, this reduction factor would double to 6 by the year 2050; that is, the water available to the country would have reduced by a factor of 6! By the above, it means that the water available to Ghanaians today is only 27% of what it was in the 1960s, and will be only 16% by 2050.

Aggravating the situation he said was the pollution of the water resources by human activities like bush burning thereby exposing the soil to extreme heat and evaporation and reducing the land to a dust bowl, cutting down of trees to burn charcoal, improper use of various agro-chemicals for farming, construction, car washing, dumping of waste into or near water courses and among others.