Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Northern Region To Benefit From USAID Anti-Poverty Initiative

More than 326,000 people in the Northern Region of Ghana are to benefit from a five-year US$60 million USAID-supported initiative to improve the livelihoods and nutritional status of the poorest households, with emphasis on pregnant and lactating women as well as children under five years of age.

Dubbed the “Resiliency in Northern Ghana (RING) project, it would help increase food security, improve consumption of diverse quality food and enhance nutrition –and hygiene-related behaviours to improve the health and resiliency of families.

For instance, RING would increase the resiliency of vulnerable families by addressing key constraints to improved livelihoods and nutritional wellbeing through three complementary project components, that is; increasing the consumption of diverse quality food by diversifying and smoothing out household income streams; improving behaviours related to nutrition of women and young children by strengthening nutrition outreach and education; and strengthening local government, communities and support networks through technical and financial assistance.

The project would also provide support to vulnerable families for a range of activities including, raising small ruminants or fowls; skills training and inputs regarding dry season farming; strengthening local storage and processing capacity; improving community water, hygiene and sanitation; educating about nutrition, particularly feeding children. 

A signed press release by the Head of Public Affairs of the Embassy of the United States of America, Ghana, Ms. Sarah Stryker copied to this blogger, said the USAID project would focus on vulnerable families, helping to improve the health status of families and enabling them to better resist unforeseeable shocks such as droughts, floods and fluctuating food prices.

According to the release, the initiative would be implemented in 17 districts in the Northern Region, which USAID and its partners at the District Assemblies and the Northern Regional Coordinating Council (NRCC), had identified through an assessment process.

The American people would provide up to US$28 million of RING’s funds directly to the government of Ghana through the Ministry of Finance for disbursement to the 17 targeted District Assemblies and the RCC, the release explained.

It also said, the funds would enable the District Assemblies and the NRCC to implement activities that improve nutrition and hygiene, and strengthen the resiliency of poor families. “In addition, the American people will provide technical assistance and capacity building support to District Assemblies and the NRCC for planning, implementing and coordinating activities that improve the livelihoods and nutritional status of vulnerable families”, the statement added.  

The statement further expatiated that, in a joint planning exercise with the NRCC and USAID, District Assemblies would select planned interventions from their Medium Term Development Plans and Community Action Plans to develop RING work plans and budgets. “USAID funding can also be used to provide sub-grants to local NGOs and CBOs to support livelihood and nutrition interventions, expand monitoring and evaluation, and strengthen service delivery”, it stressed.

To this effect, the United States government, through USAID and the government of Ghana as well as officials of four District Assemblies in the Northern Region, on Tuesday July 29, 2013 at the NRCC signed four Project Implementation Letters for an initial tranche of US$11 million.

The beneficiary districts included Nanumba North, Nanumba South, Central Gonja and East Mamprusi. They add up to a list of two other districts (Chereponi and Saboba) which were the first to benefit from the project.

These four new agreements with District Assemblies in the Northern Region which was witnessed by the outgoing USAID Mission Director in Ghana Ms. Cheryl Anderson, NRCC Chief Director Alhaji Issahaku Alhassan and District Coordinating Directors as well as Chief Executives, demonstrated the commitment of President Barack Obama and Secretary John Kerry to the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness, the Accra Agenda for Action, and the Busan Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation.

Meanwhile, Ms. Aderson pledged the total commitment of the US government to the project and urged the government of Ghana particularly the beneficiary districts to also show commitment to its implementation so that the results could impact positively on the lives of the people.

The Alhaji Issahaku on the other hand also thanked the US government for its continuous support to the people of Ghana especially in poverty eradication and other livelihood improvement programmes.

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