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24.10.2008 Regional News

Students urged government to eradicate poverty in Upper West

By gna

Students in the Wa Municipality have appealed to the Government to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger among the people in the Upper West Region.

They said the high poverty level in the Region had caused the marginalization of many, especially women and also contributed to the low education and malnutrition among the people, describing it as an unacceptable situation.

The students, who belong to the "Stand Up and Take Action Event" a student pressure group, made the appeal in a petition to President John Agyekum Kufuor through the Upper West Regional Minister, Mr George Hikah Benson to mark this year's World Poverty Day in Wa.

The "Stand Up and Take Action Event" is a special kind of event that offers the youth, students and the marginalized in society the opportunity to voice out their concerns.

The United Nation Millennium Unit has put aside the day for people to remind their leaders of their responsibilities and the petition was, therefore, to remind President Kufuor of his responsibilities towards the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.

Seventy-four students from basic and second cycle schools as well as the University for Development Studies (UDS) signed the petition, saying poverty was more endemic in the Region, where there was only one rich person out of 10 persons.

Mr Abdul-Kabiru T. Mahama, Organiser of the Group, urged the Government to take appropriate and time bound measures to address the poverty situation, which they said was also contributing to the early deaths among young people.

He appealed to the Government to take education as the topmost priority to help to achieve the universal basic education, lamenting that some children had been sitting under trees to have classes

"Facilities to enable effective teaching and learning are inadequate in most schools. Problems of inadequate furniture, textbooks and other materials are still with schools," Mr Mahama said.

He said the education of the youth was the only way societies could develop and to achieve this, issues concerning development of the youth must be given the necessary attention.

Mr Mahama called on Government to show concern for the promotion of gender equity and empowerment of women in the country, pointing out that the country needed the contribution of both women and men to propel it into perpetual prosperity.

Citing the Upper West Region as example, he said the Region had only one woman in Parliament and attributed the low economic standards of women as the cause of the marginalization of women in the Region.

Mr Mahama said the rate at which children died in the communities was a worrying issue and appealed to the Government to improve child and maternal healthcare delivery to reduce deaths.

Government should also improve the road network to facilitate the transportation of patients to health institutions for treatment.

On HIV/AIDS, Mr Mahama urged the Government to strengthen its HIV/AIDS awareness creation and prevention exercise to help to prevent the spread of the infection, describing HIV/AIDS as a major threat to development.

The incidence of malaria, tuberculosis and other contagious diseases should also be given attention.

Mr Mahama called for the sustainable use of natural resources, pointing out that the rate at, which natural resources, especially the forest were being exploited could lead to global warming with its disastrous consequences.

Mr David Yakubu, Upper West Regional Coordinating Director, who received the petition on behalf of Mr Benson, urged the students to educate the people to take advantage of the pro-poor interventions that the Government had put in place to better themselves.

He said due to ignorance, the people did not know the Government's good policies and programmes and as such many people were not accessing them to their benefit.

He mentioned the free medical care for pregnant women, the National Health Insurance Scheme, School Feeding Programme and the Capitation Grants among other interventions as some of the well intended policies of the Government but expressed regret that people in the Region were still not utilising them to the fullest.

Mr Yakubu advised the students not think the situation was all that hopeless and urged to accept and patronise the policies and programmes to improve their living standards.