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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.

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, 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.

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:
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.

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."

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).
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."

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?

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.

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.
By: Timothy Ngnenbe 
The sky was pregnant with moody clouds. Domestic animals such as cattle, goats, fowls could be seen heading in various directions, perhaps, to seek shelter. Some residents who had pitched camp at vantage points along the road to trade their game were also briskly folding up before the moody clouds begin to weep.
This was the scene that greeted me when I got to Sang, the capital of the Mion district in the Northern Region last Friday. I had arrived there on a mission to find out how the farmers were taking advantage of the government's Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ) agriculture policy.
About Mion district
Carved out of the Yendi municipality in 2012, the Mion district is a predominantly farming area with a population of about 91,000. The district capital, Sang, is bordered to the West by the capital of the Northern Region, Tamale, and barely an hour drive from the latter. To the Eastern side of Sang lies the Yendi municipality while Karaga and Savlegu borders it to the North, with Salaga bordering it to the South.

Visit to the farms
Located about one and a half kilometre away from Sang is a 14.4-hectare maize farm belonging to 52-year-old Abubakari Sayibu. He is one of the 800 farmers in the district and more than 20,000 others in the region who are beneficiaries of the PFJ initiative. About a kilometre off the Sang-Yendi road were a 13.2 hectare rice and a four-acre soya beans farms belonging to Mohammed Shahadu and Mutaka Salifu respectively.
Until the PFJ project was rolled out this planting season, the farmers produced on subsistence basis with very little or nothing meet their economic needs.
 Mr Sayibu for instance, could only manage a maximum of 12 acres of maize farm which only provided a yield just enough to meet feed the family. Applying fertiliser to crops was not an option for him since he could not afford it, hence the poor yield he had recorded over the years.

Success stories
The story this year, however, is a different one for Mr Sayibu as he has increased his production capacity by more than 300 per cent, thanks to the support from the PFJ policy.
"This year I have been able to get 90 bags of fertiliser from the district agriculture office at a very low cost while Agriculture Extension Officers (AEO) visit me regularly to offer technical support on best practices. In fact any time I come to my farm and see my plants, I do not feel like going home because I can foresee a bumper harvest smiling at me," the excited farmer said.
Figures at the Mion district directorate of agriculture showed that a total of 2750.3 hectares of crops had been planted as part of the PFJ programme. Out of the figure, maize accounted for 1494 hectares with rice and soya beans going for 1242 and 23.9 hectares respectively. Also, a total of 19686 bags of fertiliser had so far been distributed to the farmers to boost their production.
Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA) figures show that while the traditional method of maize farming produced a yield of 750 kg/hectare, the hybrid or improved seeds under the PFJ had a yield capacity of about 6 tonnes per hectare.
The District Director of Agriculture at Mion, Mr Abednego Abosore, indicated that farmers in the area are expecting a yield of 20 bags per hectare. If this projection is anything is anything to go by, it means that Mr Sayibu, for instance, will be harvesting 288 bags of maize.

Fall Army Worms
One key observation that was made during the visit to the farms at the Mion district, however, was the traces of the devastating attack on the crops by Fall Army Worms. The pests could be seen lodging in the nodes and tussles of the maize plants, devouring soft parts of the maize cobs.
The Desk Officer for the PFJ at the Mion District Directorate of Agriculture, Mr Abubakari Neindow, who was part of the team that toured some of the farms, conceded that the Fall Army Worms posed a major threat to the success of the policy.
"As you can see for yourself, the pests attack on the plants was massive but the farmers who reported to us timely were given pesticides and other technical support to weather the storm," he added.
Nationally, MOFA statistics show that 112,812 hectares of crops were attacked by the Fall Army Worms, out of which 14,411 were destroyed. The figures showed that a total of 74,000 litres of various chemicals were supplied to farmers across the country to fight the pests.
 At the Mion district, Mr Abosore indicated that the Army Worms had attacked 804 hectares of crops, adding that “ 752 farmers reported the worms attack to us at the district out of which 499 were supported with chemicals to fight the worms.; so,a significant proportion of the crops were salvage.”  
It was obvious however, that the supply of fertiliser, pesticides and technical support given by Agriculture Extension Officers had brought back smiles on the faces of the farmers.
The PFJ project has the potential to increase the production capacity of farmers, increase agriculture productivity, and, in the long run, alleviate poverty and enhance socio-economic development.

The pillar of the PFJ that focuses on creating marketing opportunities for produce after harvest is key to the sustainability of the programme/
Per the arrangements made by MOFA, farmers ought to pay Gh57, being 50 per cent of the total cost of fertiliser. In reality farmers are required to pay Gh28.5 per bag of fertiliser before delivery and the remaining half after harvesting their crops.
To ensure efficient recovery of the remaining amount that ought to be paid after harvesting the crops, Mr  Abosore indicated that arrangements are far advanced to help farmers sell their produce and be able to pay their outstanding amounts.
"What is being done is that there will be a fixed price for specific quantities of the produce. Per our local initiatives, we are making things flexible such that farmers who wish to repay in cash or in kind can do so.
"We have started contacting assembly members and opinion leaders as part of awareness creation and education of the farmers ahead of the harvest. It will be possible for a farmer to determine the quantity of maize to bring to the district agriculture office to offset the outstanding cost of the fertiliser if they so wish.
"The idea is to ensure that funds are ready to expand the project and bring more farmers on board so that poverty can be reduced in the long run," he said.

The PFJ policy is a laudable initiative that ha the potential to boost productivity in the agriculture sector, create job opportunities and also eradicate poverty among farmers. It is impoirtant to address the challenges in the first phase of the policy to ensure that the subsequent phases are effectively implemented. There is the need to suppot the PFJ to ensure food securiy. For, it is said that a hungry man is an angry man.

Writer’s email:
That Activia Scholarship Award will help bring my childhood dreams and aspirations to fruition cannot be overestimated. For one to fully understand or appreciate the significance of this scholarship scheme to the accomplishment of my dreams, I think it is apt for me to give a brief autobiography about myself, growing up as a child and how tedious or circuitous the journey had been. In fact, the purpose of this narrative is not to ingratiate myself but to shed light on the significance and meaningfulness of winning this Scholarship Award, and how the offer will impact my life, generations after me and the world at large.
Growing up, I suffered a lot of lack and deprivation as my parents were peasant farmers. Although peasant farmers, and could hardly feed us, they managed to enroll me on a community primary school. My educational dreams almost became bleak when I lost all my parents after completing a community senior high school in 2002. This unfortunate event somehow slowed my academic pace. Indeed, I had to teach as untrained teacher barely four years before I could gather resources to finance my college education and subsequently to university where graduated in 2016 at age thirty two. I can honestly state that I am a self-motivated, conscientious student and keeping all variables constant, I could have completed my undergraduate studies at age twenty three but for financial constraints. Indeed, I have had my educational transition from one level to another on piecemeal basis because of financial barriers.
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In fact, there is no doubt at all that this award will be of great help to me in my quest to achieving excellence in academia and thus, acts as a catalyst in this process. Some of the major ways this award will be helpful to me include but not limited to the following:
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Also, this scholarship award will afford me the singular opportunity to pursue my educational dreams in an internationally acclaimed centre for learning, Swansea University, United Kingdom. This will undoubtedly afford me the international exposure and the requisite know-how and thus make me a better person. I reckon that to study in the state –of-art-facility institution like Swansea University and others, especially in United Kingdom certainly requires strong financial “muscles”. As a result of this, I would not contemplate studying as international student in United Kingdom but for this scholarship award.
This award will again boost my confidence and morale as I thrive to achieve excellence in my chosen field of study. With this scholarship, seemingly insurmountable obstacles will be reduced to the minimum. This will increase my insatiable desire to shine in my studies and thus, contribute meaningfully to the existing body of knowledge, and by extension help in finding answers to the many challenges plaguing the world today.
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Friday, 27 January 2017


WALKING IN GOD’S PRESENCE: a call to accountability
By: Timothy Ngnenbe
The one-storey church building, though still at the roofing stage, was packed to the rafters. It was a spirit-filled and charged atmosphere as the congregation defied the inconveniences posed by the uncompleted building and sang, hoisted white handkerchiefs, and danced to the glory of God.
The atmosphere got more electrified when the singing and praises team gave the tune to the song “Glory be to God in the highest heaven,” the song believed to have been sang by angels when news broke about the birth of Jesus, in Bethlehem.
The members of the flock, most of whom were clad in all-white attire, hugged and shared pleasantries in absolute expressing of the joy of the festive season.
The above picture was the scene that greeted me at the Old Fadama branch of the Evangelical Church of Ghana (ECG), in Accra, last Sunday, December 25, 2016.
Christmas day
Even though it was a Sunday, the day also coincided with Christmas, a Christian religious festival celebrated to mark the birth of Jesus, the rock on which the Christian faith is anchored.
The bible, in Luke 2:1-20, gives a vivid account about the divine and humbling birth of Jesus Christ, the visit of the three wise men and the gifts that were presented to Him.
Secularized as this all-important festival has become over the centuries, the religious essence of it has been guarded jealously by various Christian denominations.
The festival is used by many Christians as an opportunity to rejuvenate their spiritual being, by asking for forgiveness of their sins. The period of the celebration, which extends beyond December 25, is also used to reach out to the poor and needy and to exchange gifts.
Messages that dominate the pulpits on such an occasion are those of joy, redemption, forgiveness, hope, purity and humility.
Apt theme
For Bethel E.C.G at Old Fadama, where I joined in the church service held to mark the day, the feeling was great as the Head Pastor of that Church, Reverend Maxwell K.K. Liwangol, led the way to deliver the sermon that will walk the flock into the new year.
The astute preacher that he is, Rev. Liwangol blended humour with in-depth knowledge of the bible to reel the congregation into the sermon, as they listened with rapt attention and burst into spontaneous cheers as and when he introduced a joke to spice the delivery.
Speaking on the theme “Walking in God’s Presence: Ability versus Character,” he observed that God had deposited in every human being the ability and potential to do something and that it required a positive character to be able to explore that ability to the fullest.
The sermon, hinged on Mathew 25:14-30, was so engulfing that one could hear a pin fall from the silence with with which it was received by the congregation.
It was centred on the three servants, each to whom their master entrusted some talents (money) to manage while he was away on a far-away journey.
“He gave to each one according to his ability; to one, he gave five thousand gold coins, to another he gave two thousand, and to another he gave one thousand. Then, he left on his journey,” (Mathew 25:15).
It is written that upon the return of the master from the journey, the servants to whom five and two thousand gold coins were given had traded with the money and made five thousand and two thousand more, representing 100 per cent of the start-up capital.
The master commended them for the good work done and asked for God’s blessings for them for giving accurate account of their stewardship.
For the third servant, however, the story was different. When asked about what he had done with what was given him, he replied “Sir, I know you are a hard man; you reap harvests where you did not sow; and you gather crops where you did not scatter seeds. I was afraid, so I went off and hide your money in the ground. Look! Here is what belongs to you.”
To this servant, the master did not only rebuke and chastise him for his insolence, laziness, and redundancy; he also ordered what he had to be taken from him and given to those who had made more gains from what was entrusted into their care.
National development
Taking a cue from the events as they have unfolded in the scriptures, Rev. Liwangol explained that those three servants could be likened to the people in leadership positions at all levels, who in one way or the other, have oversight responsibility of public resources.
“You see, the problem with us as a country is how effectively and efficiently we are able to manage the resources put in our care, no matter how small they are. People who lead need to be accountable to the public at all levels in terms of how financial resources entrusted into their care are expended.
“It is when we eschew arrogance, ingratitude, pilfering, and welcome diligence, proper accountability, and trustworthiness, that we can build a strong and united country,” he stressed.
The key questions
As I sat and listened carefully and pondered over the sermon, streams of thoughts kept flowing through my mind. So, I ask, “what if Jesus had underrated his low profiled birth; first, as the son of a carpenter, and second as haven’t been born and kept in a manger? What if Jesus had abused the supernatural power he had while on earth?
In a prophetic declaration, the “Man of God” seems to have provided an excellent answer to these mind-boggling questions when he stated “it is not how much we have that matters, but what we do with what we have. The year 2017 will be a year of renewed births, a year of great exploits. But, as people in whom God has deposited so much potential and ability, we need to explore with the little we have, in order to expand our territories.
“If we will not let our humble background negatively affect the full realization of our potential, we will continue to expand in leaps and bounds.”
As we walk into the new year in a few days, let us not be like that third servant who kept his capital in the ground, thereby making it redundant. Do not, by your actions or inaction, put the resources of the country into the ground. As did that ungrateful servant. For, a country is like a boat; when it sinks, it spares no life.

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Timothy Ngnenbe, ACCRA
It was a sad and breaking moment as 35-year old Alex Mensah, a victim of the June 3, 2015 twin disaster that claimed some 159 lives, recounted the painful ordeal he went through that fateful day.
The father of three and resident of Pokuase in the Central Region, who before the fatal incident was a driver, has been disfigured as a result of the burns, aside losing his source of livelihood.
Speaking to the Daily Graphic yesterday, he disclosed that he was the sole survivor of a 27-member team that sought refuge at the fuel station at the Kwame Nkrumah Circle where the gas explosion started.
“I do not know where to start from and where to end. I am a driver. I was on my daily routine when the floodgate opened. I joined some other people at the fuel station with the hope that I will be safer there.
“At a point, we realised that the whole place had been engulfed with flood water, so we tried to force our way out. We held on to one another so that we will not be carried away by the flood water. But, suddenly, I heard an explosive sound. We began to burn because the water was covered with petrol.
“In fact, I thought the judgement day had come, because the rate at which everyone was crying and shouting for help was more of hell fire,” he said.
To cut a long story short, Mr, Mensah, described his survival as the greatest miracle ever.
After going through the agony and depression at the 37 Military Hospital for six and a half months, he had to go through another period of psychological and mental trauma as his close associates abandoned him.
“Initially, I felt like taking my away my own life. All my friends abandoned me. My children were even afraid to come near me.  It was a traumatic moment.
“When I was discharged from hospital, I was told to go for dressing of the wounds twice in a week. But, each time I boarded public transport, nobody wanted to sit close to me. I do not want my enemy to go through this situation, let alone my loved ones,” he said.
More challenges
According to Mr Mensah, life became so difficult for him when his wife, who fended for the family since the tragic event, also had her shop demolished to pave way for the construction work on the Kwame Nkrumah interchange project.
He said it took the benevolence of his church, Bethel Grace, at Kwabenya, and the support of Mr Samuel Agyemang of Metro Television, to get his three children back to school.
Special appeal
Mr Mensah made a passionate to individuals and organisations to come to help him to pay the debts that hanged around his neck as a result of the disaster.
The Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) yesterday presented GH₵ 10,000 to surviving victims and the families of the deceased to help them get back to their feet.
A visibly happy Mr Mensah expressed his gratitude to the AMA and the government for the support, saying “it will help me to defray some of my debts.”
“I am willing and ready to work within my limit to earn a living for myself and my family. I appeal to any employer, who will not despise me in my trying moment, to help me out. I can still drive. Any vehicle owner who will listen to my plea and help me out will be blessed,” he said.
Mr. Mensah, who kept making reference to the bible and exalting God for saving him, was full of praise to his wife for her support.
“My wife deserves tonnes of commendation. She loved me when I was the breadwinner, and continues to even love me more in my state of dependence. I thank her for being my source of joy.
Hours of rainfall on June 3, 2015, caused most of the flood-prone areas of Accra to be engulfed in flood water. The Kwame Nkrumah Circle area was the worst affected as an explosion at a fuel station compounded the situation, leading to the death of more than 159 people.
Since the tragic event, some individuals and organisations have launched fundraising events to support the survivors and families of victims.
Today (Friday) marks the first anniversary of the sad event.
As the country marks the first anniversary of the June 3, 2015 twin disaster that claimed some 159 lives today (Friday), Mr. Alex Mensah, a victim of the disaster narrated his painful ordeal and appealed for support from the public.