Thursday, December 8, 2011

SDA unveils projects to support government poverty and development initiatives

rancis Npong, Tamale
The North Ghana Mission of the seventh Day Adventist church (SDA) has unveiled two projects, to support the government’s poverty reduction and development initiatives to improve the livelihoods of the people in the region.
The projects which are parts of efforts to bridge the development gap between the north and south is aimed to consciously empower members and non-members alike economically and spiritually.
The projects which include block farm and shear nut processing and marketing is targeting particularly women and unemployed in northern region. Under the block farm efforts are being made to secure large tract of farmland, while plans are advanced to establish a shear nut processing factory.
The projects would be done in collaboration with the ministry of agriculture with funding support from Adventist Relief Agency (ADRA) and is aimed to reduce poverty, improve livelihoods and enhance spiritual growth of their members.
The New president of the Mission Pastor Fred Adjei-Baah who unveiled the projects at a joint church service said that the projects are parts of the mission’s market place evangelism aimed to uplift economic, social and spiritually well being of it members.
The shear-nut processing and marketing and block farm project is an initiative of the mission targeting poor women and unemployed not only in the church but those residing in the north. It is a new tactic aimed to win more souls to Christ and at the same time improve their economic and livelihoods. When taken off, the project intends to engage over thousands of poor and vulnerable women, unemployed youth as part of efforts to reduce youth idleness, minimize conflicts, and reduce drastically amount of money spent on peace keeping and maintaining security in northern region.
Pastor Adjei-Baah indicated that huge amount of money would be devoted to the projects to ensure its successful implementation to achieve the desire result. He stressed that there would not be favors’ on grounds of faith but the desire and ability to achieve result. “There will not be brother and sister in Christ in the implementation of the projects but those who will be willing to work and achieve the desire result”, he said.
Preaching under the topic “fresh people, and fresh oil” Pastor Adjei-Baah said however called on religious bodies to partner the government to bridge the development gap between the north and south, reduce poverty, and minimize hardship on the people up north.
He therefore urged Christians to eschew laziness. “A time has come for Christians to eschew laziness, hatred, and attitudes that repel success and work together as partners to change the economic situation of the country”, he said.
Pastor Adjei-Baah, who has been praised by some church members, is bent on restoring leadership difficulty that befell on the north mission sometimes ago.
He took over from Pastor Adu Sampa whose actions and inactions sparked members protest leading to his removal.
The New spiritual head of SDA according to members is known for his compassion, competency, diligence, good spiritual lifestyle and would help propel the growth of the church in the region.
They however, advised him to desist from acts that denigrate ethnic classes in the church to build a harmonized membership.
They promised to support him restore church and mend cracks that have been created by the previous leadership.

Bushfire Devastates 150 Farmers

Francis Npong, Tamale
One hundred and fifty (150) hectares of rice and mango farms belonging to individual farmers in the West Mampurusi, Savelugu/Nanton and Karaga District have been bent down completely by bush fires.
This includes100 hectare of organic mango plantation at Jangna, and 20 hectares of rice farms at Magnayili and Burugu in Savelugu/Nanton and Karaga District respectively.
These farmers were being supported by Integrated Tamale Fruit Company (ITFC), a subsidiary company of Wienco Ghana Limited, according to the Coordinator of Organic Mango Out growers Association (OMOA), Mr. Ishaku Iddrisu.
Briefing the Enquirer on activities of bushfire in an exclusive interview, the coordinator who lamented the rampant bush burning activities said the situation had left over 200 poor farmers devastated.
The bushfire he alleged was caused by rats’ hunters, cigarette smokers, and some farmers themselves. “The major culprits in bush burning businesses are rats’ hunters whose activities need to be curbed”, he said.
The rice farms he explained got bent because of the inaccessibility of combined harvesters. “Combined harvesters are not available to a chunk of farmers and this always leaves their farms at the mercy of bushfires”, Mr. Iddrisu said.
He said that the association in collaboration with ITFC company though established fire volunteers at each vantage point they were lacking requisite equipment to fight fire. Some of these equipments he said they needed for effective fire fighting include means of transportation, water cans, sprayers and fire extinguishers among others.
He therefore appeal to organizations to support come into the aid of the farmers to help them recover from shocks as a result of their loss.

40% of northerners have no access to drinking water

About 40 per cent of the people living in the northern region have no access to portable drinking water and are vulnerable to water related diseases.
The Northern regional Director of the Community Water and Sanitation Agency (CWSA) Mr. Ofori McCarthy who disclosed this during the regional launch of Ghana Sustainable water supply and sanitation project (SWSP) said the water situation in northern region was very critical and would need collaborative efforts to deal with it to achieve the millennium development goals on water.
The US$75 million Ghana Sustainable water supply and sanitation project is a five year rural water and sanitation improvement project to be financed by the International Development Agency (IDA) of the World Bank to ensure sustainable water flow to rural communities. Out of the amount the Government of Ghana was contributing US$2.43 million to facilitate the expansion, upgrading and servicing of water facilities across the beneficiary communities.
The project would provide 1,200 boreholes, 40 limited mechanized water systems, and 29 full-scale mechanized water supplies in Brong Ahafo, Northern, Upper East, West, Central and Western regions to give people access to portable, clean drinking water.
Mr. McCarthy explained that water was an important resource and that the quality and quantity available would determine the pace of development at a particular place.
He appealed to manage water systems well warning that failure to do so would affect the society greatly.
The northern regional and sanitation Engineer Alhaji Ahmed Ewura explained that geochemical information available indicated that parts of northern region have high fluoride content and that underground water which was so saline that it was affecting the health of the people, the manager indicated.
Mr. Ewura said rain water harvesting technology was possible solution to community water crisis saying the system best fits institutions with limited number of people and usage.
He advocated end of opened defecation that contaminates water resources and appealed to the district assemblies, chiefs and opinion leaders to support the programme to succeed.
The Deputy northern regional minister Mr. Sam Nasamu Asabigi said that water and sanitation delivery has not kept pace with the increase in population putting lives at rural and peri-urban at critical position.
He promised the government’s commitment to delivery quality service and good governance to the people. He was grateful to the World bank for the intervention.

Nine Rat Hunters in Court for Bushfire Offences

The presiding judge of the Tamale Magistrate Court, His Worship Gabriel Mate-Teye has issued a stem warning to politicians, opinion leaders, and chiefs in the Metropolis who for wants of popularity would try to influence judiciary system to desist or face the law.
The judge who was emotional charged issued this warning when nine persons arrested and charged with unlawful and negligently causing damage contrary to section 12 of the 172 Act 29/60 of the criminal code appeared before him to answer these charges brought against them by the officials of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
The nine persons include six juveniles were arrested by the Tamale police somewhere in January 2011 for setting fire to the bush that destroyed a 36 acre cowpea farm at Nyamelga, a farming community on the Salaga road.
Though the pleas of the six juveniles were not taken the court however granted to reappear in court on the 16th March 2011 to enable the court making arrangement to hear the case of these under aged children in camera as stipulated by the law.
Two of remaining three pleaded guilty to the offence and would be sentenced on the 21st when they reappear before it.
Before adjoining the case to 16th and 21st of this month respectively, the judge, His Worship Gabriel Mate-Teye who commended EPA officials for resisting pressures and influences for bringing the case before the court observed with concerns the negative effects of rampant bushfire in the northern region saying his outfit would deal drastically with any persons brought before it on charges of setting fire to the bush.
The nine accused persons were on hunting expedition at Nyamalga, a community near Tamale metropolis where they allegedly set fire to the bush which subsequently destroyed a 36 acre cowpea farm, according to the prosecutor Inspector Johnson Keremeng.
He said on the 22nd day of January 2011, the northern regional director of the EPA lodged a complain to the police that some were burning people’s farms in search for rates. The police quickly dispatch a patron team who arrested the suspects at the scene.
Some rates which were tended in court as evidence were retrieved from the accused persons. The police the prosecutor said also retrieved 25 bicycles, and a motor bike which the suspects claimed ownership.
 The judge however adjoined the case to 16th and 21st of this month and issued warning to people to desist from acts that turned to influence judiciary system or justice.

Rural water provision:…GDCA rescuescommunities

As water crisis hit rural communities in Northern region, a Non-for-Profit Making Organization, Ghana Developing Community Association (GDCA) has introduced low cost technology to provide water to underprivileged rural dwellers.
The technology which makes use of local materials is part of coping mechanisms to climate change. The organization is currently implementing the programme in Yendi, Karaga and Gushegu where water situation was critical.
Under the technology, simple tools are used to construct or dig river bed wells, and boreholes which are fixed with hand pumps for easy drawing of water. The initiative is part of efforts to meet the Millennium Development Goals on water.
The organization had also introduced “sand damming” to provide water to these communities that were in dire need of the drinking water and for household chores.
The programme Manager of the Community Livelihood Improvement (CLIP) Mr. Illiasu Adam who disclosed this during GDCA- media review meeting said that the practice is done at underprivileged communities in rural Ghana where evidence of climate change and water crisis is obvious.
He explained that the initiative was taken after the organization had deliberated on the government water policy which was realized would not benefit communities with the population less 300.
The programme manager said that there was the need to support these poor communities because the government was concentrating on urban and peri-urban communities in the provision of water to the detriment of rural communities who were without portable drinking water.
He said that the community members are trained to assembled and dismantled pumps fixed on river bed wells to enable them fix them at the time of needs. Pumps are often fixed to river bed wells during dry season and remove when the rains set in whereas clay sacks are used to create blockage of river tributaries to prevent water from run out of the river.
The system, the programme manager which is now been used to irrigate vegetables pointed out that was improving the socio-economic conditions of the people.
The Executive Secretary of the Ghana Developing communities Association (GDCA) Mr. Osman Rahman said the organization was committed to reducing poverty and improving socio-economic conditions of rural dwellers.
He said it was aganst this background that various initiatives are deplored to meet the target of the organization.

Judge Blames Police for Bushfire Rise

From: Francis Npong, Tamale
The presiding Magistrate of the Tamale District Court, His Worship Gabriel Mate-Teye has blamed rampant bushfire, wood logging and charcoal burning on Ghana Police Service.
He said that the continuous burning of bush and indiscriminate felling of trees was because of the failure of the police personnel to enforce strictly anti-bushfire law.
He described as disgusting the failure of the police to deal ruthlessly with organized rat hunters in the region who were burning bushes without recourse to danger it poses to environment and property .
His Worship Mate-Teye who expressed worry about the rampant bushfire, commercial charcoal burning and wood logging activities in the region said that the process was influencing desertification and drought, and posed serious threat to food security and must be stopped.
The presiding judge said this after slapping a fine of 120 Ghana cedis each on two of the nine rat hunters who pleaded guilty to for unlawful and negligently causing damage contrary to section 12 of the 172 Act 29/60 of the criminal code who appeared before him to answer these charges brought against them by the officials of the Environmental Protection Agency(EPA).
The Magistrate stated that the rampant bushfire and environmental pollution could be minimized if the police personnel together with officials of the Environmental Protection Agency enforce environmental laws to the later.
“Often times organized rat hunters who set fire to the bush pass by the police who did nothing to prevent them from going into the buses to cause havoc to environment and farm produces”, he stated.
The judge said that civil crime would have been reduced to the minimum if the police were serious and strictly enforces and educate people on the laws as enshrined in the law books of the country.
He warned that his outfit would deal drastically with individuals brought before him and charge with bushfire, tree logging and charcoal burning offences.
The Magistrate commended the officials of the EPA for resisting influences and pressure from opinion leaders, political leaders and chiefs to bring the case before him for trail.
He promised to give prominence to cases related to environment and encourage EPA and police to join forces to deal with issues of bushfire, wood logging and charcoal burning.
The nine persons include six juveniles were arrested by the Tamale police somewhere in January 2011 for setting fire to the bush that destroyed a 36 acre cowpea farm at Nyamelga, a farming community on the Salaga road.
Though the pleas of the six juveniles were not taken the court however granted to reappear in court on the 16th March 2011 to enable the court making arrangement to hear the case of these under aged children in camera as stipulated by the law.
Two of remaining three pleaded guilty to the offence and would be sentenced on the 21st when they reappear before it.

Fighting Corruption in Agric Sector: Enquirer Team Commended

DCE Entangled in 45,000 Ghana Cedis Scandal (Enquirer 20 July 2011)

The District Chief Executive (DCE) for Zabzugu/Tatale, Mr. Umar Wahab who was recently cited for defrauding his youth numbering about 200 who paid him Ȼ50 each to participate in ICT training course has again been accused of defrauding his farmers of a colossal sum of Ȼ45, 000.

This amount is said be a deposit of Ȼ4,500 each handed over to him as part payment and in fulfillment of the requirement to acquire tractors through the ministry of Food and agriculture high purchase scheme by some ten farmer groups in the district.

Information however gathered by the Enquirer from the ministry of Food and Agriculture indicated that a farmer who wish to purchase a tractor and its accessories is supposed to deposit 50% of the total cost of the implement while the balance is spread through within three years. The cost of a tractor and its accessories is now between Ȼ24,000 and Ȼ28, 000, according to the Enquirer information.

This implies that this group of farmers or individuals who wish to obtain a tractor(s) under the ministry’s high purchase scheme would have to deposit 50%.

The farmers who are peeved with the president’s representative have appealed to the presidency to impress upon the DCE to refund their money with interest.

Some of the supposed farmer group members alleged that the DCE was adamant to demand for refund saying “he verbally pour “venom” on them and threatening them with arrest” anytime they appear before him to discuss the matter.
“That is why we want the public to know about this deal so that we can at least recover our money mobilized through our daily toil if he is not able to supply us with the tractors”, a frustrated farmers told theEnquirer during interaction in Yendi.
Though the DCE allegedly promised to deliver the tractors to the said farmer groups within the shortest period, it has however taken him two years now to supply them with a single tractor, they said.

The farmers alleged that Mr. Wahab who could not produce receipts to individual farmer groups as evidence of payment to the ministry’s tractor service account alleged that they were being “bully” by the president’s representative when they approach him on the matter.

According to the frustrated farmers, the DCE could not also direct them to the ministry or agency he was working with to get the tractors supply to them but always flares up.
“We are suspecting that he used the money to buy some shares so it is difficult for him to access it again”, they said.

The farmers who are planning to hit the streets to demonstration again the president’s representative called on the president to look into th matter.

Speaking in an exclusive interview with the Enquirer, some members of various farmer groups who want to remain anonymous for fear of intimidation and harassment complained that their wards recently lost huge amount of money to the DCE who promised to train them in ICT but failed.

“The DCE will always burst out with anger anytime we demanded receipts as evidence of payment. This gave us a clue to suspect that something is wrong somewhere”, the farmers said.
The farmers who described the DCE as “highly cunny” said that they have lost confidence in him and appealed to the president to intervene.

The actions and inactions of the DCE, according to a top NDC guru within the district were provoking the people against the government.

He said that this may have some repercussions of the performance of the party during the 2012 elections if nothing was done about it.

“Section of the people in the district has been complaining about the conduct of the DCE, from one allegation to the other this is not good enough for the party development”, he said.

The top NDC member also alleged that the DCE takes decisions without consultation.

The DCE when contacted confirmed taking money from some group of farmers to help them acquire these tractors through the ministry of Food and Agriculture high purchase scheme.
He however refused to disclose the amount he collected and the number of farmer groups involved but only to say that the groups had paid Ȼ4,500 each to him.

He also claimed to have in his possession a receipt backing the deposit for the tractors but could not tell this reporter which ministry or agency account he paid this money into for verification purpose but promised to show the receipt covering the deposit to the Enquirer when he had recovered from malaria and had made a journey back from Accra later within the month.

Mr. Wahab who sounded very disturbed on phone told the Enquirer to direct those farmers who were not interested in the deal to come for their refund disclosing that somebody had already indicated to him that he had seen a used tractor and was interested in it “so I told him to look for the money elsewhere to pay for it so that anytime I travel to Accra I can bring his money to him”, 

On consulting party members, the DCE said that he does not need to consult party when taking decisions.
Stay tune.

Presiding Member (PM) calls for creation of new District at Zabzugu/Tatale

Francis Npong, Tamale: The Presiding Member (PM) for Zabzugu/Tatale District Assembly, Madam Mary Tagba has underscored the need to create another district in the area to cater for the teaming unemployed youth.
PM Zabzugu/Tatale District Assembly, Madam Mary Tagba
According to the presiding member, the population growth coupled with the vast nature of the district was making it impossible for the assembly to undertake effective development to enhance the living conditions of the people.
“It is meaningless if the district cannot help improve the socio-economic conditions of the people. As a presiding member I now see the need to create another district out of the current Zabzugu/Tatale District to cater for the larger population”, she said.
The only female presiding member in the region was speaking to the Enquirer in an exclusive interview in Tamale after an ICT training workshop organized for female assembly members in the north.
“our roads are bad, women and children particularly those at Tatale and surroundings have been experiencing water crisis for decades now, no educational infrastructure, living standards of the people kept deteriorating each day that is we need to create another district to deal with water, roads, infrastructure, health, economic and educational needs of the people”, she emphasized.
Madam Tagba also added his voice to the calls by the chiefs and people of Tatale traditional area to President Mills and his NDC government to split the district into two to facilitate development, create jobs to reduce high unemployment and poverty rate and also encourage grass roots and popular participation in governance.
The area, she pointed out has enormous natural and human resources enough to sustain the district if created and urged the government under the leadership of President Mills to make the separation of the district his top priority.
The Presiding member’s call came at the time authorities including the youth and chiefs of the Tatale traditional area were lobbying the government to create another district to enable them confront their own problems.
Though the people began lobbying for the creation of a district several years ago, no attention had been given to their request for political reasons. The people were brutally denied the opportunity during 2004 when their counterparts such as Kpandai, Chereponi, and Bunkprugu/Yunyoo among others were separated.
The people are hopefully that the government would grant their request time round to enable them tackle their own problems.
It could be remembered that the paramount chief for Tatale traditional area, Obore Gariba Yankosor at a recent durbar of chiefs and people of the traditional area pointed out that the traditional area was vast with one paramount seat, about ten divisional chiefs and over 20 sub-chiefs.
The area, he disclosed also has enormous natural and human resources enough to sustain the district if created.
The traditional area is one of the peaceful areas in Ghana can boast of three area councils, one senior high school, a police station, CEPS and Immigration posts, large tracts of land, electricity to promote the growth of the cottage industry, one polyclinic, four health centres for quality health delivery and four mobile telecommunication networks, MTN, TiGO, Airtel and Vodafone.
The chief said that the traditional council had already earmarked over 80 acres of land for the construction of offices and accommodation for staff of the proposed district assembly. The provisions had also been made for temporary offices and accommodation for the staff if approval were given for the creation of the district.