The Northern Development Fund (NDF) has appealed to government to accelerate processes towards construction of the Pwalugu Multi-Purpose Dam (PMD).
According to the Fund, the project which has been on the drawing board since 1964 with similar medium-sized dams, are solution to needless loss of lives and property and the alarming increase of poverty in Northern Ghana.
Chairman of the Fund, Major Albert Don-Chebe (Rtd), who made the call at a press briefing, noted that while poverty is diminishing in the rest of Ghana, it is increasing in Northern Ghana leading to widening of the development gap between the north and south.
He said, “Between 2012/2013 and 2016/2017 while poverty declined in Ghana from about 24 per cent to 23 per cent, poverty in Northern Ghana increased. For example, in the Northern Region poverty increased from 50 per cent to 61 per cent.”
“Poverty in the Upper West Region is the highest in the country at 71 per cent. Indeed, 67 per cent of all the extreme poor in Ghana are in the three Northern Regions.”
Major Don-Chebe (Rtd) noted that experts have identified water conservation, harnessing of flood waters as well as groundwater for irrigation as key to unleashing the immense agricultural potentials of the northern savanna.
This, he said, would translate into food security for all Ghanaians, reduced imports, enhanced incomes, stoppage of migration of northern youth to the south and the attendant social and security challenges and the development of agri-business.
According to him, this would lead to the transformation of northern Ghana from a perceived inconvenient weight on the country to a valued contributor to accelerated advancement of the country.
The Chairman pointed out that the NDF welcomes government’s promise to build the dam and appealed for a roadmap to ensure the project is finally taken off the shelves.
Major Don-Chebe (Rtd) noted that while the rest of Ghana is a middle-income status, northern Ghana remains in least developed country conditions as confirmed by a UNDP report.
He argued the alarming increase in poverty and underdevelopment in Northern Ghana is a direct result of absence and deplorable state of infrastructure including motorable roads, bridges, electricity, ICT among many others.
According to him, all the very poor parts of Ghana lack decent roads, health facilities, electricity and many more others.
The NDF, he said, believes the infrastructure budget of the country should be managed in a manner that ensures basic infrastructure like roads, hospitals, schools and electricity are distributed fairly across the country to ensure equitable development.
“The provision of infrastructure is vital for Northern Ghana to grow to a level it will no longer depend mainly on aid.”
“We appeal to development partners to increase, re-channel and coordinate their development assistance to infrastructure to unlock the development potentials of Northern Ghana to enable it transition beyond aid,” he stated.
The chairman averred that they are drawing attention to these issues to ensure the Ghana Beyond Aid vision of President Nana Akufo-Addo is actualized and stressed that without close attention to the north, which is half the country, Ghana’s development will slow down.
By Osumanu Al-Hassanfirstname.lastname@example.org