The Builsa South Youth Association in Accra has successfully organized its first Consultative Forum to brainstorm ways to develop the Builsa South District.
The program which took place at the Accra Technical University on Saturday, 14th May, 2022 brought together natives, Chiefs, and other distinguished personalities of the district to deliberate on ways to address the developmental shortfalls in the district. The Theme for the occasion was "Accelerating Development in the Builsa South District through Education, Health and Security: The Role of Stakeholders."
Chairman of the Association, Mr. Philip Akumasi Agalisi indicated that the purpose of the forum was to bring together natives of the district in and out of Accra to deliberate on ways to champion development in the district. According to him, government alone could not advance development in the district, thus it was necessary for natives of the district in Accra to come together as one body to advance development in the district.
Mr. Agalisi indicated that since the formation of the Association four years ago, it has choked some success. According to him, the reasons behind the formation of the Association were to come together and form one voice, create job opportunities for the members, hold leadership in the district accountable, and mobilize resources for development, among a host of others.
Mr. Agalisi said, the association's major achievement since its formation four years ago was its ability to bring natives of the district together regardless of some disagreements among some members sometimes. Other achievements of the Association include the donation of 100 dual desks to four deprived schools in the district, and the provision of foodstuff to some selected communities in the district during the Covid-19 pandemic among others. Also, the association has worked tirelessly with the district security authorities to address some security challenges in the area.
Mr. Agalisi has, however, bemoaned the lack of enthusiasm among members as one of the association's challenges. Others include a lack of brotherly love among members, a wide developmental gap in the district, financial constraints, and partisan politics among some members, among others. Nonetheless, Mr. Agalisi was optimistic about the prospects of the association and therefore appealed to natives and stakeholders in the district to help make the association a viable one to champion development in the district.
The Key Speaker for the occasion, Dr. Chris Atim, a Health Economist and native of the district first commended BYSA for its excellent and enterprising effort emphasizing that he was "elated that there are still young men and women who have the progress of Builsa South at heart" and making frantic efforts at advocating not only development in the district, but are also contributing their widow's mite in diverse ways to ensure the development of the district and its citizens. Many such meetings often fail due to disagreements. He has said.
He further encouraged the association "to continue to stay focused and true to the objectives and ideals" for which the association was formed to remain relevant. He called on other members of the district in Accra yet to join the association to endeavour to do so without hesitation "so that you can lead the agenda for progress in Builsa South."
According to the Health Economist, the theme for the occasion "Accelerating Development in the Builsa South District through Education, Health and Security: The Role of Stakeholders" was "well thought out, topical and pertinent". Explaining further, Dr. Atim opined that education gets society enlightened and informed, thus, enabling them to make rational choices in every aspect of life; health keeps people well and so empowers them to carry out their daily activities successfully; and, security, of course, ensures a safe and sound conducive environment that permits other pillars to exist and function, thus allowing citizens to go about their daily duties without fear whatsoever.
Dr. Atim revealed that the poverty level in the district was devastating. To buttress his point, Dr. Atim stated that data available show the poverty prevalence in the district as of 2017 stood at 37.7%, representing 14,830 people (total population of the poor) whereas households with moderate or severe hunger stood at 31.7%, a situation that certainly needs attention.
Traditionally, the Builsa land is well known for smallholder agriculture as its main source of livelihood. According to Dr. Atim, though Fumbisi and Gbedembilisi, suburbs of the Builsa South Districts, valleys are considered in Ghana as the rice farm gates, and have the potential to contribute momentously to the rice consumption needs of the country, the limited use of simple and contemporary farming techniques was hampering those efforts, which will mean, people in the district are missing out opportunities to make farming more productive. Consequently, education allied with other crucial resources was thus critical if we are to realize the full potential of our lands for the progress and development of our people and district as a whole. He emphasized.
On security, Dr. Atim underscored the importance of security in every community's development. According to him, security is a "major defining feature community's attractiveness not just to its members, but also to others who want to do business in the community”. Thus, security completes the list of vital ingredients for sustainable community advancement.
He, however, bemoaned the spate of crimes within the district in recent years. According to Dr. Atim, in the distant past, the issue of security within the Builsa land used to be pure superstition where the alleged existence of 'ghosts' was a major concern. However, the situation is no longer the same today. "While 'ghosts' have fled the communities, suddenly, new and dangerous 'ghosts' have arrived that have become a major threat" to both human lives and property. This, he stated, can be partly placed at the doors of globalization dynamics which in itself presents opportunities and threats.
Dr. Atim also revealed that security in the district was so poor that market men and women were no longer safe in conducting their business. "Mr. Chairman……our markets are no longer safe and now becoming empty as people no longer stay long enough to transact business with the most obvious fear that once the sun falls, they no longer are haunted by 'ghosts' but rather by their sons and daughters who have fallen prey to the evil of crime. The livestock and other properties of our men and women are no longer safer as they risk being stolen or forcibly taken by criminals in wanton acts of brigandry. One of my brothers in Gbedema Gbenasa, some few years ago, suffered this fate when the entire fleet of cattle was emptied". He painfully recounted.
In all these instances, Dr. Atim wondered what the security forces were doing to avert the situation. "In all of this, where are our security forces?" He quizzed.
In other to ameliorate the rampant issue of insecurities in the district, Dr. Atim has called on the district security authorities to liaise with vigilante groups, who were already playing some watchdog duties in the district to protect lives and property.
"Mr. Chairman, I am aware of some efforts by the security authorities to improve the security situation. I am also aware of citizens' especially the youth support to security authorities and the district all to improve security in Builsa land". Adding, he said, "I am informed of the youth forming some vigilante groups to serving as watchdogs over their communities to protect communities and properties against criminal robberies and wanton stealing of their livestock and properties. This goes to show that security is community-based and collaborative. Dr. Atim has stated.
According to Dr. Atim, the lack of adequate police personnel as well as the lack of autonomous police command in the district may have contributed to the deteriorating security incidents in the past. Fortunately, now that there is an autonomous police command in the district, he hopes the situation improves. He, therefore, appealed to the police command to consider increasing the number of police personnel in the district to further improve the security situation.
In Dr. Atim's opinion, one of the ways to combat the rampant incidents of crime in the Builsa land was the collaborative effort by both the district security forces and residents in the communities since the security authorities alone in the district were incapable of combating crime.
In concluding on the issue of security, Dr. Atim indicated that "inadequate security threatens peace and impacts negatively on a community's local economy. Also, Other investors willing to invest resources in the district would be forcefully turned away. According to him, studies have shown that short working hours, reduced market penetration, higher operation overheads, and a disincentive to investors, among others, are the major consequences of insecurity as a major threat to community development and the nation as a whole.
In his take on education, Dr. Atim opined that education was one of the weighty pillars for unearthing the talents, energies, and synergies of the young ones for the collective benefit of the district and the nation as a whole.
According to him, education was one of the significant tools for combating poverty; unfortunately, in the Builsa South District, not all parents are sensitive to this fact. Using himself as an example, he and his siblings were fortunate to have been given the best education. Regrettably, investment in education in the Builsa South District, especially the girl-child education was nothing to write home about. Quoting Malcolm X, the Health Economist, said "Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today", thus, it was very important parents in the district took the education of their wards very seriously.
Dr. Atim addeed that, in the year 2002, the United Nations Economic and Social Council (UNESCO) declared that human resource development was a fundamental aspect of poverty eradication and vital to the process of sustainable development, contributing to sustained economic growth, social development, and environmental protection. According to him, in this declaration, health and education were considered essential commodities in a community development, and thus urged the full integration of these into macroeconomic policies, not excluding poverty reduction programs, and prioritization of education to community development around education and health.
He has therefore challenged the local authorities in the district to prioritize education and health in their budgetary allocations since those were essential commodities in every community advancement.
Dr. Atim also wondered why many people were willing to contribute, both financially and in kind to the advancement of their alma mater in faraway regions to the neglect of schools in their communities that probably need more aid. In his opinion, those gestures tend to perpetuate the inequalities of the past.
According to him, to arrest the issue of poor academic performance in the district we need to learn from other countries like India and some other African countries. He said that the experiences in those countries have shown that investment in "pupil teachers and extra classes have yielded massive results with regards to students' performance. Therefore, the best option was for the community to set up an education support fund and then charge our educational authorities with interventions aimed at addressing some key challenges and improving performances.
On the issue of health, Dr. Atim said there has been some improvement in the provision of health care services in the district over the years, especially with the introduction of the Community-Based Health Planning and Services (CHPS) and the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS). "While CHPS compounds have helped to address some challenges with respect to physical access, NHIS, which was established in 2003, has been designed to address financial access". He has said.
Ironically, the introduction of CHPS and NHIS have not quite holistically been able to address the health needs of the rural folks such as the Builsa South District. In his opinion, the mere existence of a CHPS compounds in a community does not in any way translate into effective use of the service. Also, many rural folks are poor and therefore have no means of paying for some essential services, yet the NHIS, as it stands now, does not cover some basic, especially preventive and promotive services, which people will usually pay for as individuals.
"To compound the situation, the unavailability of qualified health workers in the rural communities in Ghana has been a major challenge over the years". He has stated. Explaining further, Dr. Atim said, "the Upper East Region and for that matter, the Builsa South District have been at the receiving end of health workers refusing postings to serve in our facilities"; a situation he described as very disturbing.
Dr. Atim indicated that lack of opportunities for personal career progression, lack of opportunities for quality education for their wards, and limited economic incentives compared to their peers in the urban areas, among a host of others as some of the reasons why most health personnel often refused postings to the Builsa South District.
To address the situation, Dr. Atim encouraged BYSA and the community to help pay for NHIS membership of the rural folk, and also provide the necessary incentives to attract more personnel to the district.
Mr. John Apaabey, the Presiding Officer of the Builsa South District, also speaking at the event highlighted the relevance of education in every community development. According to him, education in the district has improved over the years since most of the district's Senior High School graduates were now gaining admission to the tertiary institutions.
In terms of Health, Mr. Apaabey said the district was doing well. According to him, almost all the electoral centres in the Builsa South District now have health centres.
With regards to security, Mr. Apaabey said the district now boasts of a Police Command. This according to him has helped to reduce crime in the district to the barest minimum.
Mr. Apaabey has, however, outlined several challenges in the district that needed immediate attention. He indicated that the lack of educational logistics was a major problem hindering education in the district. For instance, most schools in the district lack textbooks, thus making teaching and learning extremely difficult. Also, the issue of teacher and nurse attrition was a major problem. According to him, most teachers and nurses, and other professionals often refused postings to the district due to reasons best known to themselves.
Mr. Apaabey congratulated BYSA for its efforts in providing dual desks to some selected schools in the district and urged them to do more to facilitate better teaching and learning in the district. He further admonished BYSA to stay true to its vision and remain united since that was the only way the association could achieve its objectives.
Other speakers at the program include Madam Lydia Lariba Bawa, a former NIC Commissioner, and a legal Partitioner; Mr. Basco Akante, former Deputy Minister and patron of BSYA; His Lordship Seth Alafa, Builsa Bisa Club Chairman and a Judge; Lawyer Michael Akanbeg, a private Legal Practitioner; Naab Akanko A. Richard II, Chief of Fumbisi among others.
All the speakers at the program, have counselled BSYA to remain focused and united since that was the only way the association could achieve its objective. BSYA was further advised to desist from partisan politics in order not to divide its front moving forward.
Madam Lydia Bawa, for instance, admonished BSYA leadership not to be discouraged in the face of difficulty. According to her, transparent and credible leadership were key ingredients in every association. She has therefore called on the leadership of the association to remain transparent and accountable at all times to arrest the confidence of members for progress.
Lawyer Michael Akante, on his part, advised the youth to desist from alcoholism and remain focused. He also entreated the youth to avoid dabbling in partisan politics since it has the potential of dividing the association. He has therefore called on BSYA to be assertive, saying "anything worth doing is worth doing well".
Using BONABOTO (a youth association in Bolgatanga) as an example, His Lordship Seth Alafa, Builsa Bisa Club Chairman said, BONABOTO was able to achieve a lot as an association because of its STRONG VOICE. Therefore, if BSYA could achieve anything worthwhile, it needs a strong voice. He has, therefore, called on members of BSYA to remain focused as the people of Babel in the scripture to achieve its objectives.
By: Analimbey, A. Chris