US spends $77m on Northern Ghana
The United States of America has spent about 77.1 million dollars on the educational and health needs of schools in the Northern, Upper East and Upper West regions between 2000 -2006.
The funds utilised through its official development organisation USAID, were 54 million dollars about 70 per cent for educational programmes including the provision of food for school children and 23.1 million dollars for healthcare such as de-worming programmes for school pupils in the three regions.
Mr Peter Chammik Jayom, Senior Programmes Officer of Catholic Relief Services (CRS), disclosed this to the GNA in an interview at the end of a stakeholders' phase-out dialogue held in Bolgatanga recently on the Ghana School Feeding Programme (GSFP).
The dialogue was necessitated by the decision of USAID and CRS to withdraw from the GSFP by September this year, because Ghana was no longer considered a beneficiary of the assistance.
He said about 176,383 pupils in 34 districts in the three Northern regions had benefited from the GSFP that had led to increase in school enrolment, attendance and retention of girls in school.
Mr Jayom said 155,828 out of a total of 168,294 pupils in the 28 districts not sponsored by UNICEF in the three regions were de-wormed in 2006.
This represents 92 per cent coverage and an increase of 10.7 per cent over the 2005 coverage of 81.3 per cent.
On the achievements of GSFP so far, the Senior Programmes Officer said it had increased school enrolment by 14 per cent between 2003 and 2006, and attendance by 45.1 per cent.
"Within the period, girls' enrolment in schools has increased by 20.9 per cent while their attendance rate increased to 58.5 per cent," he added.
Mr Jayom said from a baseline of 42.8 per cent in 2004, 79 per cent of the target school children in 2006 demonstrated and practised appropriate hygiene behaviours.
He noted that the main challenge likely to arise from the CRS/USAID phase-out in 2008 would be how to sustain the gains and achievements so far made by the GSFP.
The dialogue was attended by representatives from USAID, CRS, Ghana Education Service (GES), GSFP, Ghana Health Service and District Chief Executives (DCEs).