When those who make the feast go hungry, all suffer for lack: A call to redeem Ghana’s Western Region

Article When those who make the feast go hungry, all suffer for lack: A call to redeem Ghanas Western Region
MAR 31, 2023 LISTEN

Ghana’s Western Region is a land of paradoxes. Despite accounting for nearly half of Ghana’s mineral revenue and agricultural output, the region grapples with some of the poorest infrastructure and living standards in the country.

The region is home to Ghana’s largest cocoa farms, timber reserves, and is the center of the country’s oil industry, yet many of its residents lack access to basic necessities like good roads, stable electricity, healthcare, and quality education.

This stark contrast between the region’s immense contributions to Ghana’s development and its own deprivation has given rise to the popular phrase, “the best comes from the west.”

The Western Region produces nearly half of Ghana’s gold and cocoa exports and accounts for all of its oil production.

The Tarkwa and Damang gold mines and the Jubilee oil field are major sources of revenue for the Ghanaian government, generating billions of dollars in exports.

However, despite the region’s mineral wealth, districts like Prestea Huni Valley, Amenfi West, Amenfi Central, and several others, frequently plead for government interventions to improve their poor conditions.

Many of the roads are barely motorable, forcing communities to walk long distances to access basic amenities.

Healthcare facilities are few and far between and often lack essential supplies and staff.

Electricity supply is highly erratic, and many rural communities do not have access to potable water.

To add insult to injury, the effects of climate change such as droughts and floods have devastated the region’s agriculture, the main source of livelihood for rural residents.

Education outcomes in the Western Region also lag the national average due to lack of infrastructure, poverty, and high dropout rates particularly among girls.

The region has one of the highest teenage pregnancy rates in Ghana according to a UNICEF report, further exacerbating gender inequalities.

The western region residents have always implored the government to remedy the situating, citing the region’s significant contributions to national development.

“We produce the gold and oil that funds national budgets, builds hospitals and schools in Accra and Kumasi, and pays public sector salaries across the country. Yet our people die from lack of basic medicines in our health facilities. This is unfair and unjust. Our citizens deserve better,” they said in countless occasions at different places.

To many Ghanaians, the Western Region symbolizes the resource curse—where regions with a wealth of natural resources suffer from poor governance, lack of economic diversification, corruption, and weak oversight.

Successive governments have failed to ensure the fair and equitable distribution of resources including redirecting mineral and oil wealth to support the development of the region.

As Ghana’s breadbasket and treasure chest, the Western Region deserves more from the government.

Implementing targeted interventions to improve infrastructure, healthcare, education and creating sustainable economic opportunities would be a good first step toward addressing the deep-seated inequalities and poverty in the region.

Poverty levels in cocoa-growing areas are high, with many farmers struggling to sustain themselves on small plots and low crop prices.

Dependant communities struggle with poor living standards and few opportunities beyond cocoa. Youth emigrate in droves, leaving behind an aging population.

Meanwhile, the cocoa industry has intensified land disputes and environmental degradation.

Tensions over land ownership and use have led to conflicts, while pollution, deforestation and loss of biodiversity threaten the landscape.

The region contributes greatly to Ghana's economy and development but benefits little in return.

Government focus and funding have centered around large infrastructure rather than basic service provision to hard-to-reach areas. Local authorities also struggle with limited resources and capacity.

Speak to Ghanaians nationwide and a sense of neglect towards the Western Region pervades.

The narrative of producers deprived encompasses feelings of abandonment, exploitation and injustice towards a region that has given so much.

The cocoa economy and communities that sustain it deserve more; their travails cry out for remedy and recompense.

The Western Region's story is Ghana's story; a tale of how limited progress and unequal rewards can forsake the very foundations of national success.

When those who make the feast go hungry, all suffer for the lack. Development relies on the well-being of all parts; no region or people left behind.

The producers of the best deserve the best - a prosperous, sustainable future built on the fruits of their labor. Their hard work and humanity warrant nothing less.

The industrious Western Region, the source of so much bounty, must benefit greatly from its contributions or risk poverty amid plenty.

The costs of neglect are far greater than any inconveniences of change. Justice and progress demand it.

The producers of Ghana’s best must no longer lack the best themselves. The time for action is now.

Isaac Donkor Distinguished
Isaac Donkor Distinguished

News ReporterPage: IsaacDonkorDistinguished