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Thursday, 21 June 2018



The cemetery of development
: Abandoned projects swallow Nkwanta-North District

By Timothy Ngnenbe
WHAT was supposed to be a modern market for the over 70,000 residents of the Nkwanta-North District in the Volta Region has been reduced to a home for rodents, reptiles and a site for open defecation.
The dilapidated structures whose roofing sheets have lost their aesthetic value and potency out of the frustration of being left idle have also become a hub for smokers.
A number of refuse dumps have also sprung up at various parts of the 30-acre land which had been encroached upon by private individuals with impunity.
When I got to the site of the abandoned Kpassa Market project about 5:30 a.m. that day, a number of the residents – the old and the young, male and female - were heading towards various directions to do their own thing.
Pigs, in an early bird catches the worm mantra, were anxiously waiting to cash in on the goodies; after all, one man’s poison is another’s meat.
The Kpassa Market project which rests on a 30-acre land was started about two decades ago with funding from the European Union (EU) in an attempt to open up the area to development.
While the EU provided funds, the local authority mobilised community labour to support in putting up the structures which have now been left to rot. 
The project was supposed to provide a bigger space with services that will create room for convenience for the business community and also create job opportunities for the residents.
However, a number of setbacks, including financial challenges, disagreement by chiefs over the siting of the facility and lack of investors, have dealt a heavy blow to the project, making it a stillborn.

Uncompleted projects
The abandoned Kpassa Market project is just a tip of the iceberg as there are 22 other uncompleted projects that keep the Nkwanta-North District Assembly in the woods.
Among these projects is the uncompleted E-block for a Community Day Senior High School (SHS) that was started by the erstwhile National Democratic Congress (NDC) government led by former President John Mahama. The project which is located at Damanko, is at an advanced stage of completion but still far from that feat as funds are not readily available for that purpose.
What this means is that  the about 1,500 students who could have had access to quality SHS education in line with the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) Four on ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education and promoting lifelong learning opportunities for all will not get that opportunity.
The Kpassa Senior High Technical School (KPASTEC) Dining Hall project that was started by the previous government to transform the school from a day school to a boarding institution has been abandoned at the roof stage. 
Also making the list of the uncompleted projects in the district are classroom blocks for basic schools, Compound Health Improvement Service (CHIPS) compounds, toilet facilities and water projects.
At Danladi, Gbosike, Mama Akura, Sibi, Kofi Akura and other surrounding communities in the district, one uncompleted project or another is awaiting funds for completion, but the district assembly is bleeding profusely from lack of funds to complete the projects.
Some of the abandoned projects were the initiative of the district assembly while a number of others were financed under the Ghana Education Trust Fund (GETFUND).
These uncompleted projects that were supposed to facilitate healthcare delivery, support quality teaching and learning and also better the lives of the people now serve as shelter for domestic animals.

Concerns
The District Chief Executive (DCE) of the area, Mr Jackson Jakayi, indicated that the abandoned projects gave him sleepless nights.
"With the about 22 uncompleted projects at hand, it will be extremely difficult, if not impossible, for the assembly to start any new development project in the district. The focus now is to ensure that the uncompleted projects are tackled and completed so that the investments that were put into them will not be a waste," he said.
According to him, the District Assemblies Common Fund (DACF) is woefully inadequate to carry out some of the projects aside from its untimely release by the central government. Meanwhile, the assembly over the years has not been able to raise the required internally generated funds (IGF) due to apathy by the residents and perhaps, ineffective tax collection strategies.

Threat to SDGs
The string of uncompleted projects in the district is a cause to worry, especially when those facilities are in critical areas of development such as education, health, Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH).
Failure to complete these projects means that SDGs Six, on ensuring availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all, Three, on ensuring healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages, and One, on ending poverty in all its forms everywhere, will be endangered.
The market project for instance has the potential to provide livelihoods to many people along the chain because businesses will emerge and the service sector will expand.
The uncompleted CHIPS compounds is a great worry because the district has no hospital and most of the link roads are in a deplorable state, making it difficult for residents in villages to travel long distances to seek minor health care.
As a result, the health of expectant mothers and their unborn babies are at risk because they have to travel long distances to access pre-natal and post-natal health services.

Way forward
It is important that pragmatic steps are taken by the government to ensure that projects which were funded by the GETFUND are completed to ensure value for money.
As of now, the district assembly is adopting all strategies, including revising its IGF mobilisation strategies and prioritisation of its expenditure through prudent use of funds.  However, the projects at hand far outweigh the internal control mechanisms being adopted by the assembly and call for wider external support.
There is, therefore, the need for strategic public private partnerships (PPPs) to carry out these projects, especially in the wake of dwindling donor support.
If the government’s policies aimed at transforming the education, health and agricultural sectors and also open up the rural areas to development are to see the light of day, then efforts must be made to complete these uncompleted projects. After all, governance is a continuum.

Writer’s E:mail: ngnenbetimothy@gmail.com





Okada in Ghana: to legalise or not to legalise?
By Timothy Ngnenbe

THE use of motorbikes for commercial purpose, popularly called ‘okada’ has become the new-found trade for many young people across the country. What used to be just a means of transport for rural folks in particular, is now a viable source of livelihood for many a Ghanaian youth.
Motorbikes have been the preferred means of transport for rural folks because it is the easiest and cheapest means by which they ply their business.
In the three regions of the North and the northern part of the Volta Region for instance, motorbikes are revered so much among farmers, teachers, nurses, social workers and many others, who rely on it to get to their places of work.
No wonder in the latter part of the 2000s, Apsonic motorbikes were christened "Single Spine" because it became the taste of teachers whose finances had grown because of the introduction of the single spine salary structure (SSSS).
While farmers use motors to carry heavy loads to and from farm, nurses and health workers see it as the most efficient means to access the hinterlands to dispense healthcare services.

Commercialisation
However, the last five years has seen a rise in the use of motorbikes for commercial purposes in towns and cities such as Accra, Kumasi, Tamale, and Cape Coast.  In Accra for instance, the Okada fever has caught up with all corners of the city such that the traveling public now turn to patronise them at the expense of taxis.
From Ashaiman, the Kwame Nkrumah Circle, Agbogbloshie, Zongo communities, to other parts of the capital city, okada operators pitch camps and compete with taxi and "trotro" drivers for passengers.
The daily gridlock caused by vehicular traffic which further compounds during festive seasons and special occasions, make motorbikes the preferred option for many a people.
Even though they charge higher fees as compared to taxis and other commercial vehicles, the operators are still in good business. This stems from the fact that they outdo their competitors by meandering  through thick traffic to get their clients to their destinations in good time.
The booming okada business puts  food on the table of many young men and their families who had little or no formal education.
For 28-year-old Mohammed Awal, a resident of Old Fadama, ‘okada’ has been his life-wire since he dropped out of an apprenticeship four years ago because of financial constraint. He makes more than GH₵150 on a good day from that business.
"I make sales of GH₵50 to him every day.  After all deductions, I am still able to make some savings for the future. Through the savings, I have been able to set up a store at Sandema where I come from. My sister is taking care of that store while I also hustle here with the hope that things will improve for us in the future" he said.

The ugly picture
Even though these okada operators are working hard to make a living  their activities have been described by some people as counterproductive because many of them flout road traffic regulations. They fail to wear protective clothing, like helmets, thereby putting their lives and their clients in danger.
Some of them take drugs, alcohol and other stimulants to keep them active, a situation that creates room for reckless riding and road accidents. In some cases, the motorbikes are used to commit crimes such snatching if mobile phones and money from people and speeding off.
Figures from the Road Safety Commission (RSC) show that in 2014 alone, 2,571 people were knocked down by motorists out of which 1,856 lost their lives.
 In 2015, 2,289 motorcycles were involved in road crashes nationwide while in  the first quarter of 2017, about 708 road users died from 4,049 road accidents with 3,983 others sustaining various degrees of injury.
 The statistics show that 1,199 pedestrians were knocked down by 6,468 vehicles and 1,289 motorbikes. These negative tendencies necessitated a call for an outright ban of the practice, especially when the laws frown on it.
Despite these challenges many strong voices have advocated the legalisation and regularisation of the okada business.

The proponents
 In 2015, a deputy Minister for Local Government, Edwin Nii Lante Vanderpuye, made a strong case for a review of provisions outlawing ‘okada,’ saying that it had the potential to create employment opportunities and increase government revenue.
Last year, some Members of Parliament (MPs) from rural constituencies also made statements on the floor of Parliament that ‘okada’ ought to be legalised because motorbikes were faster, convenient   and cost effective means of transport in their constituencies.
 They argued that ‘okada’ operations had become a source of livelihood for many rural folks so regularising and regulating it would create jobs and improve the transport system especially in the rural areas.
In February this year, a deputy Minister of Transport, Mr Titus Glover, added his voice to the call for the legalisation of ‘okada.
A couple of weeks ago, Nii Lantey Vanderpuiye reignited the advocacy for legalisation of the practice in an interview with the Daily Graphic, calling on the Ministry of Transport to collaborate with key stakeholders to mainstream it into the national transportation system.

The law
In 2012, the use of motorbikes for commercial transport in the country was outlawed under Section 128 (1) of the Road Traffic Regulations, 2012 which states that "The licensing authority shall not register a motorcycle to carry a fare-paying passenger."
The law also prohibits any person from using a motorcycle or tricycle for commercial purposes except for courier and delivery services, while it also prohibits pillions from riding on a motorcycle or tricycle as paying passengers. Offenders are liable to fines or imprisonment
 Taking a cue from this law, officials of the Driver, Vehicle and Licensing Authority (DVLA) and the Motor Traffic and Transport Department (MTTD) of the Ghana Police Service, have kicked against proposals from advocators for ‘Okada’ to be legalised. The two state institutions argued that the open sided nature of motorbikes exposed riders and patrons to danger.

Way forward
As the debate on the legalisation of okada rages on, there is the need for a national discourse on the issue, involving stakeholders in the transport sector, regulators, and policy makers.
If it is properly regulated and mainstreamed into the national transport system, it will not only help to safeguard the lives of the traveling public but also widens the government’s revenue base.
Let us review the law to accommodate okada operators so that they can be identified, registered, licensed, and policed to work within the road traffic regulations.

 Writer’s email: ngnenbetimothy@gmail.com



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Dying to live: the case of scrap metal business in Accra

By: Timothy Ngnenbe
Deafening sounds from hammers that strike ferrous metals could be heard from all angles of the squatter enclave.
Clusters of thick, dark smoke emanating from the burning of waste electronic products and other scrap material filled the atmosphere, blurring vision and causing teary eyes.
The young, the old, male and female are seen performing one task or the other in the chain of activities associated with the scrap metal business.
From dawn to dusk, they comb through what is known as the world's biggest dump site for electronic waste, in search of worn out fridges, television sets, computers, and other electronic waste to extract copper, brass aluminium and other useful matter.
 It is what they do for a living. But, first, it feeds them, then kills them slowly.
The residents
This scrap metal dump site located at Agbogbloshie in the Greater Accra Region is not only a business centre for dealers in scrap metals but also a home for many people.
Most of the people who live in this slum area are from the rural north of the country while others are foreigners from neighbouring West African countries such as Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Niger and Togo.
They live, work, dine and wine in that part of the city oblivious of the hazardous conditions they are exposed to daily. The most affected group in this area is children who engage in all forms of work that contravenes the laws of the country.

Child labour
Among the dealers in this scrap metal business are children who should be in school but who mortgage their future and put their lives on the line. They join the crew of scavengers at the site and do work that weigh them down physically and psychologically.
One such child is Abu Mohammed, a 17-year-old student of one of the privately owned basic schools at the Old Fadama slum who has been in that scrap business since 2011.
When I met him at the scrap line at about 11 a.m. on Thursday, May 10, he was busy scavenging for the goodies. Armed with a magnet, a wheel barrow and a sack, he moved from one place to the other, rolling the magnet to attract magnetic materials.
I followed him to a base where about 10 others almost his age, were also working on their wares. One of them who gave his name as Benjamin Tabir, a Form Two student, confessed to have left the class at the blind side of his teacher to work at the site.
"I decided to come and work here to get some money for my upkeep because I live with my sister in the Old Fadama slum. She is also a head porter (Kayayo) and cannot take care of all my needs," he said.
 Meanwhile after about 30 minutes, Abu had sorted out the goodies and was ready to mount it on a scale that had been planted there by his “boss.”  He placed the items on the scale and the reading stood at 55 kilogramme.
The reading on the scale meant that he had made GH¢44 because a kilogramme was worth 80 pesewa.
An excited Abu told me that it was a sign of a good day. “On a good day, I can make more than GH¢100 and at least GH¢600 a week.  He works under a "master" who buys his wares and resell to others in the chain.

The headache
Without protective clothing or any efficient tools to ply their trade, they handle the metals with bare hands and burn the electronic waste in a very crude manner that emit poisonous gases into the atmosphere. This practice leaves the area and its surroundings filled with polluted air that exposes the people to health risks and respiratory diseases.
Abu threw more light on the side effects of the scrap business, saying: "It is a difficult thing to do because sometimes the metals can hit your head, eyes and other parts of your body. At times, we cough so much after work and have sleepless nights. But we cannot stop it because we get money from it."
The side effect the scrap metal business has on the people and the public is a major concern that needs to be looked at, especially when there are dire health and environmental consequences.
For instance, even though the place is very unhygienic, food vendors and fruit sellers carry their wares around for the public to buy and eat.
Also, livestock such as cattle, sheep, goats, feed on piles of refuse that are dumped around. These animals are later slaughtered and their meat sold to members of the public.
There are no figures to show the number of deaths that result from the risky lifestyle in this area but it is certain that many lives are lost every now and then.

Importations
Despite the physical and health risks the scrap metal business poses, it continues to thrive in contravention of the laws of the country because of the insatiable taste for second-hand electronic goods which end up as scrap metal.
Hundreds of tonnes of these used products are mostly imported from the United States of America (USA), Asia, Australia, and Western Europe with impunity.
It is estimated that about 500 containers of these second-hand electronic products are imported every year, with a chunk of it not able to function under one year.
These importations go on even though Legislative Instruments (L.I. 1586) of 1994 and L.I. 1693 of 2001 placed a ban on the importation of some used merchandise such as mattresses, underwear and fridges that have been classified as banned goods.
The Abossey Okai business enclave which is about 500 metres away from the hub for scrap business, is flooded with these second-hand products and serves as one of the main supplier of scrap metal for the scrap dealers.

Call
Key state agencies such as the Ghana Standards Authority (GSA), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), need to collaborate effectively to enforce the regulations on the importation and dumping of second-hand electronic products on Ghanaian markets that end up as scrap metal.
There is a relentless war to rid the country of filth and a government’s resolve to make Accra the cleanest city in Africa. If this feat is to be achieved, attention has to be given to the proper management of e-waste.
The Ministries of Sanitation and Water Resources, Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation, Local Government and Rural Development, and the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) need to design an integrated approach to tackle the challenge head-on.

Writer’s email: ngnenbetimothy@gmail.com




Restoring livelihood of mining communities

By: Timothy Ngnenbe
It was a three-hour drive from Kumasi. The road was bumpy, dusty, rugged and rough. The V8 vehicle in which we had travelled bumped into one of the big potholes causing a flat tyre. My backbone ached, just as did my joints.
We finally got to our destination – Richie Plantation, located at Dunkwaw-on-Offin in the Upper Denkyira East municipality of the Central Region at about 3pm.
I was among the journalists who went on a tour of the facility with the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Mr John-Peter Amewu.
The mission was to assess the progress of work on the palm seedling project that had been initiated by the government with the aim of providing alternative livelihood to the residents of communities that have been hard hit by illegal mining activities.
The first time I went there with officials of the ministry and the Lands Commission was in December, 2017.
At the time of that visit, the site for the Alternative Livelihood Project, about 1 million palm seedlings were being nursed under the GH¢10-million initiative with funding from the Minerals Development Fund (MDF) in collaboration with the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources.

Lives touched by Richie Plantation
The May 21, 2018 tour of the project saw the plantation growing in leaps and bounds because the seedlings had increased to 2 million, with most of them ready for transplanting.
Richie Plantation has about 1,000 casual workers and 64 permanent employees who work on various aspects of the plantation to give it life. Among the workers were some ex-illegal miners who now make a living from the work they do at the palm seedling project.
The all-female casual workers fill poly sacks with manure while the permanent staff nurse the seeds and carry out other cultural practices such as watering, weed control, transplanting and transportation of seedlings to beneficiary farmers.
Some 15 agriculture engineering students from Texas University in the United States (US) and 20 of their counterparts from the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) had come to the project site to have practical experience of the technology being used and to share their knowledge and best practice with the local people.
The CEO of the plantation, Mr Richard Ekow Quansah, explained that he had been given the mandate to nurse and distribute 8 million seedlings to farmers by the end of 2020. This means that 2 million seedlings will be nursed and distributed every year to meet that target.
He disclosed that more than 4,000 farmers have been registered to be supplied with the palm seedlings beginning the third quarter of this year, adding that the entity had the capacity to distribute 20,000 seedlings a day and 120,000 a week to farmers.
  "By 2022, this area would have been turned into an industry because I am planning to establish a mill here for the processing of palm oil and palm kernel. When this is finally done, more lives will be touched because many jobs will be created along the chain," he said.
Per the explanation he gave, 60 seedlings will be planted on each acre of land. What this means is that by the end of the fourth year of the project, about 134,000 acres of land will be hosting oil palm plantations.
When this feat is achieved, the road map to restoring the forest and the vegetation would be given a big boost, while more lives would also be touched in terms of employment opportunities.

Galamsey: current situation
Illegal mining has left devastating footprints in mining communities across the country with regions such as the Eastern, Western, Central and Ashanti being the hardest hit by the menace.
Farmlands, rivers and the forest have been destroyed by the menace, leaving the country to hunger and thirst for these resources for its development. For instance, it is estimated that about 342,000 hectares, representing 1.5 per cent of Ghana’s 228,000-square-kilometre land has been destroyed by galamsey.
Reclaiming a hectare of the destroyed lands is estimated to cost about GH¢ 70,000, which means that a total of about GH¢ 20.5 billion is needed to heal the land.
Many of the youth who could have contributed their quota to build the country now lie in the belly of the earth as pits collapsed on them while illegally searching for gold The use of mercury, heavy duty machines and other chemicals for galamsey in water bodies has left the Pra, Offin and other rivers polluted to the extreme.
Last year, there were concerted efforts by the government, the media, chiefs, security agencies and other stakeholders to clamp down on the activities of these galamseyers. The formation of the Media Coalition against Galamsey fueled the efforts by the government to tackle the menace.
A ban was placed on small-scale mining in February, 2017 as part of measures to sanitise the mining sector while a military-police detachment known as Operation Vanguard was also despatched to notorious havens for illegal mining.
Current figures show that the operation vanguard team, with the support of other para anti-galamsey groups, have made 1,247 arrests and seized 111 weapons from the galamseyers.
The multi-sectoral mining integrated project (MMIP), a document that spells out the road map for the implementation of alternative livelihood projects and initiatives to sustainably address the challenge posed by the illegal mining menace has also been developed.

Call
One of the questions that lingers on the minds of many a school of thoughts is how the country will pick up the pieces in the aftermath of the galamsey fight. Specific concerns have also been raised about mechanisms that will ensure that the youth who quit galamsey have alternative sources of livelihood.
The alternative livelihood project is one of the multifaceted initiatives by the government to heal the vegetation and also restore sustainable livelihoods to residents in mining communities who have been hard hit by illegal mining, popularly called ‘galamsey.
The oil palm plantation project is expected to be scaled up to cover residents of mining communities in the Ashanti, Eastern, Western and Brong Ahafo regions to give hope to affected people.
Chiefs, local government officials and opinion leaders in mining communities ought to encourage residents of these communities to take the oil palm plantation project seriously since it is a viable source of livelihood.
This is a step in the right direction because the initiative will be a case of killing two birds with a single stone – healing the environment and providing livelihood to people.

Writer’s email: ngnentimothy@gmail.com












Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Can Accra become  the cleanest city in Africa?
 
By: Timothy Ngnenbe
The newspaper spaces, the screens of televisions, and the airwaves are replete with reports of filth that has engulfed the city of Accra.There are also daily reports about the deteriorating waste management regime in the country.
For those who have lived in Accra for decades, such reports may not be news worthy any more. However, any first time visitor to the capital city will stand in awe of the sight that will greet him.

Filth
Let the doubting Thomases visit notable markets and business centres such as Agbogbloshie, London Market at James Town, Abossey Okai, CMB, Mallam Atta, Kaneshie, and Tema Station.The adamant ones may as well visit slum communities such as Old Fadama, Nima, Zongo, Ashaiman, and Chorkor; then, they will appreciate the essence of this piece.
At the market centres, businesses of flies are giving traders a good run for their money as both parties compete for vegetables, meat, fish, and other foodstuff.The gutters are pregnant with filth. The shoulders of the roads are yielding to the incessant pressure from piles of rubbish. Drains and market centres are fast turning into mountains of refuse dumps. Culverts and overpasses at vantage points in the capital city are increasingly becoming a hub for refuse, while the Odaw river continue to swell with foreign materials dumped into it.
The sea and other water bodies are suffocating from  tonnes of waste that washed into it as a result of the indiscriminate dumping of refuse by members of the public.

The ugly figures
It is stunning to know that Accra was ranked as the most polluted city on earth, according to numbeo.com, a website that tracks several countries with respect to developmental challenges such as pollution, health, and crime.
According to the pollution survey report released in 2016, Accra led with a pollution index of 102.13 whilst Lebanon's Beirut followed closely with 97.71.
Even before the situation got this worse, Ghana had slipped on its sanitation performance globally to become the world’s 7th worst performing country, according to a 2015 report.
The Joint Monitoring Programme report dubbed “Progress on Sanitation and Drinking Water: 2015 Update and Millennium Development Goal (MDG) Assessment,” was a collaboration between the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). The 2014 report of the same entities ranked Ghana as the 10th worst performer on sanitation coverage.
Current figures at the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) show that the capital city generates more than 3,000 metric tonnes of waste daily. The nerve-wrecking statistics vis-a-vis the growing indiscipline among members of the public in the management of waste raises eyebrows.

Cleanest city
 It has been about five months since the President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, made a historic declaration to make Accra the cleanest city in Africa by the end of his tenure in office.
President Akufo-Addo made that declaration on April 23, this year, when the President of the Ngleshie Alata Traditional Council, Oblempong Nii Kojo Ababio V, together with the Chiefs and people of Jamestown, enstooled him as a Chief of Jamestown, with the stool name "Nii Kwaku Ablade Okogyeaman.”
 “The commitment I want to make, and for all of us to make, is that by the end of my term in office, Accra will be the cleanest city on the entire African continent. That is the commitment I am making to you,” these were the President's words.
The question then is "can the anchor of the President's quest to make Accra the cleanest city in Africa hold in the midst of the deteriorating sanitation challenge?" Where is the roadmap to achieving that feat?

The AMA roadmap
The Public Relations Officer (PRO) of the AMA, Numo Blafo III, indicated in an interview that the city authority had a comprehensive roadmap in place to making the city clean.
Apart from the revival of sanitation courts in the capital city to enforce sanctions on people who commit sanitation infractions, the AMA has also started constructing transfer stations at strategic locations in Accra to ensure efficient waste management.
"Three of such transfer stations have been constructed at Achimota, New Town, and Mallam Interchange while others are to be constructed at the Dansoman, Korle Bu Mortuary Road, and the Osu areas," Numo Blafo explained.
The sub-metros within the AMA have been charged to come out with specific plans that will address peculiar sanitation challenges within their jurisdiction, while waste management contractors have also been assigned to the sub-metros.
Residents in the sub-metros are expected to register with the contractors for the waste they generate to be evacuated using tricycles to the transfer stations. Heavy trucks will then be used to convey the waste to the two dumping sites at Kpone and the Nsawam area respectively.
Another component of the roadmap is the launch of a pro bono AMA Sanitation Newspaper, an initiative to discourage people from posting bills on walls and mounting banners in the city. The initiative will be a platform for individuals, groups, institutions and other entities to advertise their products free of charge.
 “The AMA wants to start prosecuting people who destroy the beauty of the city by posting bills on walls and erecting banners. But we cannot do that without providing an alternative medium for such people. When we kick start the paper, anyone who commit those infractions will be severely sanctioned to deter others," Numo Blafo stressed.

Hawkers
Apart from the huge sanitation challenge, the activities of hawkers who have turned the shoulders of major roads, streets, and even overpasses into their warehouses is still a tall mountain for the city authority to climb.
The Road Traffic Regulations (LI 2180, 2012) gives the Ghana Police Service the mandate to check the activities of hawkers.  The regulation debars a person from selling, displaying, offering for sale, goods on or along the roads or on pedestrian walkways.
This regulation however seems to have been given a lip service. Hawkers have defied the provisions of this regulation due to weak enforcement from the police, perhaps, due to political factors.

Way forward
The roadmap to making Accra the cleanest city in Africa will come to nought if there is no concerted involving all stakeholders. It is a matter of education, awareness creation, and personal commitment to be ambassadors of a cleaner Accra.
The faith-based organisations (FBOs), public and private institutions, the security agencies, the politicians, and all well-meaning citizens have a stake in making the city clean.
If we have to win the battle against filth and make Accra the cleanest city in Africa, all hands ought to be on the deck. The whip must be cracked on persons who act irresponsibly on matters of sanitation. It is not enough to stay away from indiscriminate dumping of refuse. It is our responsibility to ensure that the person next to you is not compromising on the quality of the environment.
The catch phrase is "attitudinal change." Until we all begin to see waste management and improved sanitation as everybody's responsibility, we will continue hunger and thirst for cleanliness in our capital city.

Writer’s email: ngnenbetimothy@gmail.com
My journey to the countryside: the plight of Ivorian refugees in Ghana

By: Timothy Ngnenbe
EVEN from afar, I could hear Ivorian melodious tunes . Upon arrival, a bevy of Ivorian women were seen performing the Zouglou dance. The artful dance moves involving twisting of the waist and agile movement of other parts of the body was a sight to behold. There was a beautiful blend of culture as soothing tunes from Cyndy Thompson's Awurade Kasa soon filled the air. This was the mood at the Egyei-krom Refugee Camp located in the Komenda-Edina-Egua-Abirem (KEEA) Municipality of the Central Region when I arrived there two weeks ago.
I had travelled with a team from the United Nation High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR) for the official hand over of a completed four-unit police quarters and refurbished classroom block to the government. The atmosphere at the Ampain Refugee Camp located between Esiama and Ainyinase in the Ellembelle District of the Western Region was not different.
  
The sad tales
Sorrowful tales about how the evil whirlwind swept through the entire Ivory republic, leaving mothers childless, children orphans, and husbands, bachelors, were told.
At the Aimpain Camp, for instance, 35-five-year-old Gue Badia Serge, painted a picture of the goring killings,  including the slashing of his father's throat, and indelible scar the crisis had left in his mind.
Such was the case of 40-year-old Emmanuel Debila, who lost both parents in the devastating political conflict and only escaped death by the hairs of a mosquito. The conflict separated him from his wife and he only realised that his better half survived three years after the conflict.
For 36-year-old Nguessan Moussa, the storm may have been weathered but the thoughts that people can get hungry for power to the extent that they kill their compatriots like fowls is enough to prefer being a slave in a foreign land than a haunted citizen
 
The camps
Resting on 50 and 32 acres of land respectively, the Egyei-krom and the Ampain refugee camps were established in 2011 in the aftermath of the political conflict in Cote d'Ivoire following the disputed 2010 elections.
The facilities, and two others at Fetentaa and Krisan in the Western and Brong Ahafo regions, have housed the escapees of the political conflict in Cote d'Ivoire over the past years.
Records at the UNHCR show that at the end of 2016, there were 13,236 persons of Concern (PoC) in Ghana made up of 11,865 refugees and 1,371 asylum seekers from over 34 different countries of origin. While some refugees have been in the country in the 1990s and 2000s, the most pronounced cases of refugees occurred in 2011 with the influx of Ivorian nationals following the political conflict there.
Of the current refugee figure, 6,651 of them, representing about 50 per cent, live in camps while the others are in urban areas such as Accra, Tema, and Takoradi as well as Aflao in the Volta Region. Current official figures show that 3,442 refugees are in the Ampain Refugee Camp, 1,459 at Egyei-krom, while 983 and 767 live in the Fetentaa and Krisan camps respectively.
While the campers at the former three refugee facilities are Ivorians, those of the latter are made of nationals from Susan, Togo, Liberia and 14 other countries.
The UNHCR and the Ghana Refugee Board (GRB), with support from stakeholders such as the Christian Council of Ghana (CCG), the National Catholic secretariat (NCS) and the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) have been key pillars in the life of the refugees.
The NCS is responsible for health, nutrition, water and sanitation, food and non-food items and shelter while the CCG takes care of basic education, with the ADRA also taking charge of the implementation of livelihood programmes.
The UNHCR provided daily rations to the refugees until September, 2015 when the food supply ceased, a situation Mrs Ioli Kiyamci, the UNHCR representative, attributed to the global increase in the number of refugees in critical need.

Challenges
Since the supply of food to the refugees ceased two years ago,  many of the refugees do not know where their next meal will come from. The young men told me that the ban on illegal mining had worsened their plight since it was their new-found source of livelihood.
"The business was good. I could make Gh1000 a week to take care of my wife and four children in the camp here. But, with the ban on galamsey, things are not going on well at all," 40-year-old Emmanuel Debla revealed.
Another huge challenge observed at the refugee camps is poor accommodation. The UNHCR standards laws debar a refugee from leaving in a tent for more than six months. However, my visit to the camps showed that a greater percentage of the refugees have lived in tents since 2011.
Also, access to farmlands and other services in the host communities have been a major challenge as the refugees said they sometimes faced discrimination from the indigenes. 

In spite of the arrangements made in the tripartite agreement involving Ghana, UNHCR and Cote d'Ivoire for a voluntary repatriation scheme to reunite the refugees with other nationals back home, some of them remained adamant to return to their native land.
Initiatives such as the "go and see" and the "come and tell" programmes have been  instituted where  refugees are taken to Cote d'Ivoire to see things for themselves while those who have returned also come back to the camps to tell the good stories. So far, more than 250 of the refugees have been successfully repatriated.
However, as shown by the figures, many of the Ivorian nationals prefer to remain in Ghana as refugees than go back to their motherland. The feedback I got from them at the two refugee camps on why they had opted to stay in Ghana instead of going back to their native land was not only humbling but disheartening.
The 35-year-old Badia summed it all when he said: "this question of some refugees going back and others refusing to do so is quite complicated because each of us escaped from Cote d'Ivoire under totally different situations even though we are all treated as Ivorian refugees. "There are those who went back and are now enjoying because there is a pull factor but there are others here who will not have their freedom if they go back."

Interventions
To address the daunting challenges refugees face in the camps, UNHCR and the GRB have started a self-help project where land and other building materials are made available to refugees to put up decent accommodation in the camps.
At the Egyei-krom refugee camp, some of the campers were seen busily putting up structures to accommodate their families.  At an extreme corner of the refugee camp was the God's Grace Poultry Farm where Ms Anne Tahoe and four other campers are raising about 4,200 birds with the expectation to add 1000 more by the start of 2018.
Through the support of ADRA, the refugees, have also ventured into aqua culture, food crop farming and animal husbandry. It was observed at the Ampain Refugee Camp that the old, the young, males and females, were glued to tablets, android mobile phones or desktop computers in a modern internet connectivity facility established by Intel.
As part of measures to integrate the refugees into the host community over time, the GRB has started mainstreaming health, education, security, and other services at the refugee camps into the national service delivery system.
For instance, the School Feeding Programme has been introduced at the camps, with about 314 pupils at the Egyei-krom Refugee Camp benefiting from it while their counterparts at the Ampain Camp have also been enrolled on the national health insurance scheme (NHIS).
 
Conclusion
As efforts are being made by the government to mainstream services at the refugee camp into the national service delivery system to integrate the refugees into the local communities, it is also important to strengthen discussions with the Ivorian government on its citizens in Ghana. I’m sure that if the remnants of the refugees are assured of their safety upon returning to their native land, the repatriation scheme will be a success. In the mean time, before you decide to engage in any act of violence in this country, ask yourself if you are prepared to be a refugee.
PLANTING FOR FOOD AND JOBS: the prospects and the journey so far
 

By Timothy Ngnenbe
"If you ask, I will say that the Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ) policy is government's flagship initiative to transform the agriculture economy of Ghana as a pre-requisite for the industrialisation of the country for sustained development.
"The crux of the policy is that we cannot say that we are industrialising or building a strong economy in a developing country such as ours without anchoring it on agriculture. Any country that fails to get its agriculture moving well should forget about industrilisation because there will be no raw materials or building blocks."
These were the words of the Minister of Food and Agriculture, Dr Owusu Afiriyie Akoto, when I had an exclusive interview with him last Wednesday on the state of the PFJ agriculture policy.

Key pillars
Launched by the President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, on April 19, this year, the PFJ is targeted at increasing food production, ensuring food security and also contributing significant to job creation.
The initiative, akin to the revolutionary "Operation Feed Yourself" agriculture policy that was rolled out by military leader Ignatius Kutu Acheampong in 1972, revolves around five main pillars.
These pillars are the supply of improved seeds, the supply of fertilizers, free extension services to farmers, marketing opportunities for produce after harvest, and electronic-agriculture.
 The PFJ is being implemented over the next four years, with the pilot phase which began this year, focusing on the planting of five cereals - maize, sorghum, rice, soya beans, and three selected vegetables (onions, tomatoes and pepper).

Who benefits?
The journey to a successful PFJ initiative begins with access to quality seed. To ensure that this is done, farmers are required to register at the various district agriculture offices to qualify to be supplied with improved quality seeds and fertilisers at highly subsidized prices for cultivation.
The participating farmers qualify for a 50 per cent subsidy from the government and also have the benefit of free extension services from assigned Agriculture Extension Officers spread across the 216 districts in the country.
MOFA is partnering an information technology firm, Essoko, to compile a biometric database of all farmers participating in the programme to help monitor the supply of inputs and track the progress of farmers.
 A farmer will require a minimum of two and a half acres of land to be part of the campaign. An estimated 200,000 farmers are expected to participate in the pilot phase, with the figure projected to hit half of the 5 million farmer population in the country by 2020.

The journey so far
As of June, this year, a total of 185,000 farmers have been registered across the country with the anticipation that the targeted 200,000 farmers for the year will be met.
Dr Akoto revealed that a total of 56,028 bags of 50-kilograms (kg) each of improved seeds of maize, rice, soya beans and sorghum, as well as 22,904 sachets of 100 grams (gm) each of onion, tomatoes, and pepper were distributed to farmers across the country.
"In addition, 16,808 bags of improved seeds of the selected cereals and 22968 sachets of the three vegetables will be distributed before the end of the farming year.
"Already, a total of 132,671 hectares of the selected crops and vegetables have been planted with an additional 27,329 hectares are targeted for cultivation, bringing the total area cultivated to 200,000 by the end of the planting season," he explained.
Dr Akoto added that a total of 1,200 agricultural extension officers trained by the country's Agriculture Colleges have been recruited and posted to 187 districts across the 10 regions.
The National Service Scheme (NSS) supplemented the efforts MOFA by posting 2,160 prospective personnel to provide agriculture extension services to farmers in support of the PFJ policy.

The odds
One huge challenge that MOFA had to tackle head on to see the smooth roll out of the PFJ is the evasive attack Fall Army Worms that swept through maize and cowpea farms across the country.
The Army Worms, according to MOFA figures, affected a total of 112,812 hectares of crops out of which 14,411 were destroyed.
To keep the hope of of farmers, especially those under the PFJ programme alive, the government set up a national taskforce and sub-committees to take steps to address that challenge.
Figures at MOFA showed that a total of 74,000 litres of various chemicals were supplied to farmers across the country.
An optimistic Dr Akoto exclaimed "I am happy to say that the Akufo-Addo Army has defeated the Army Worms. However, we will continue to establish a national pest surveillance system to ensure that we mop up the remnants of the pests."

Prospects
With the deployment of modern technology, including the introduction of improved seeds, supply of appropriate fertilisers, and efficient extension services, the stakes are high for a bumper harvest for farmers.
For instance, while the traditional method of maize farming produced a yield of 750 kg/hectare, the hybrid or improved seeds has a yield capacity of about 6 tonnes per hectare.
By the time the PFJ policy peaks in 2020, perennial crops such as oil palm, rubber, cashew, cocoa and coffee will contribute significantly to job creation.
Even before the perennials come on board, the cocoa sector is already announcing great prospects.
The mass spraying exercise and the hand pollination initiatives has created employment for 10,000 youth thiis year, with 30,000 more expected next year.
So, how is MOFA preparing to support farmers to get the full benefits of the anticipated bumper harvest? Is it likely to be a case of food wastage due to lack of market opportunities?

Initiatives
Dr Akoto revealed that MOFA had started a process to acquire storage facilities for the bumper harvest and also create a ready market for farmers.I
"You are aware that Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) now under MOFA. As a result, we are asking for 276 of its warehouses that are not being actively used to be made available for storage of proceeds from the PFJ programme.
"A team has gone round to do a cost analysis and has concluded that it will cost GH 25 million to put it in shape," he said.
He added that the assets of the defunct National Buffer Stock Company (NABSCO) including 27 of its warehouses had been given to the Grains and Legumes Development Board (GLDB) to revamp ahead of the harvest season.
"The COCOBOD warehouses will give us 97,000 metric tonnes storage capacity, the warehouses of the defunct NABSCO will provide 30,000 metric tonnes , while some other warehouses from the three regions of the North will add on to give us a total storage capacity of 200,000 metric tonnes. This will be more than enough to store the produce," he gave an assurance.
In line with the government's agenda to empower the private sector, MOFA is currently engaging 90 private sector players including trade organisations, co-operatives, and associations to employ them to manage the warehouses.

Conclusion
The need to link the PFJ policy with other government initiatives such as the "one village, one dam," "one district, one factory," is crucial since the policies are interdependent.
It is said that the hen that lays golden eggs ought to be protected jealously. The PFJ agriculture policy is a laudable initiative that has the potential to turns the fortunes of the country around if the policy is diligently implemented and sustained across governments.Let’s embrace it. For, it is said that a hungry man is an angry man.