All eleven municipal and district assemblies in the Upper West Region have been selected to benefit from a USD150 million World Bank pro-poor project dubbed the Gulf of Guinea Northern Ghana Social Cohesion (SOCO) Project.
The five-year project which would be implemented by the Ministry of Local Government, Decentralisation and Rural Development (MLGDRD) aimed at providing support to the northern parts of countries in the Gulf of Guinea experiencing food insecurity, adverse effects of climate change, conflicts and violence.
A Deputy Minister at the MLGDRD, Mr Martin Adjei-Mensah Korsah made this known in a speech read on behalf of the Sector Minister, Mr Daniel Botwe at a SOCO orientation workshop for key staff at the various district assemblies in the Upper West and Savannah regions at Wa on Monday.
The meeting brought together Municipal and District Chief Executives (MDCEs) and Municipal and District Co-ordinating Directors (MDCDs) planning officers and others who were schooled on the project’s components and implementation strategies.
The Deputy Minister explained that northern Ghana had poverty rates which were three times higher than the rest of the country, adding that some districts in the north were more vulnerable than others hence the choice of beneficiary assemblies.
“The percentage of Ghanaians living on less than $1.90 a day reduced to 11.9 in the last living standards survey conducted in 2017; while Ghana’s national poverty rate is around 25 per cent, northern Ghana has poverty levels two to three times higher than the national average,” he said.
Mr Korsah mentioned that poverty index which saw a rise from 55 per cent in 2013 to 64 per cent in 2017 was partly due to pockets of violence recorded in the part of the country as enumerated in the 2021 report of the Economic Value of Peace.
The report which he said was put together by the Institute for Economics and Peace, estimated the annual economic cost of violence in 2019 expressed in purchasing power parity (PPP) terms in Ghana at US$3,495 million representing two per cent of GDP.
“The SOCO Project is consistent with the strategic pillars of the Coordinated Programme of Economic and Social Development Policies and the Medium Term National Development Policy Framework which hinges on three pillars,” he said.
He listed the pillars as peace and security, economic growth and social development and said government’s policies collectively sought to reduce inequality, foster economic growth, empower livelihoods, promote good governance as well as empower the youth and deliver resilient community infrastructure.
He used the opportunity to outline the respective roles expected to be played by various actors such as the MDCEs and MDCDs in the implementation of the project and called on the stakeholders to stick to timelines to ensure that the project was completed in time.
In a speech on her behalf, a Director at the External Resources Mobilisation and Economic Relations Division (ERMERD) of the Ministry of Finance, Ms Yvonne Quansah said SOCO among other things sought to contribute to the mitigation of conflicts, enhance climate change and reduce unemployment as it was expected to create employment in beneficiary communities.
The Regional Director at the Upper West Coordinating Council, Mr Peter Maala lauded the project as timely as it would help strengthen capacities of communities to fight extremism and also augment efforts of non-governmental organisations working under the selected themes.
FROM LYDIA DARLINGTON FORDJOUR, WA