The Japanese Government has made available a two million US dollars grant to the Government of Ghana, to be disbursed in the form of loans, to the people in the three Northern Regions who were affected by the 2007 floods that hit the area.
The money would be administered by the Micro Finance and Small Scale Loan Centre (MASLOC) to help support people to undertake small scale enterprises to enable them to restore their economic activities that were devastated by the floods.
Two hundred and ninety-three groups representing 3,100 affected persons across the Upper East Region have been given a total of 443,300 Ghana Cedis as loans for their micro-economic activities, and are expected to pay back so it can serve as a revolving fund for others to also benefit.
Mr Lawrence Prempeh, Chief Executive Officer of MASLOC explained that the flood that hit the region, extensively destroyed farms and other means of livelihood for an estimated 320, 000 victims, and said with the support of the Japanese Government and the MASLOC component it would help the productive flood victims re-establish their economic activities in a more meaningful manner.
He said 13, 000 people in the region have so far benefited from MASLOC support since it started disbursement in October 2007, and indicated that over 50 per cent of monies had been granted to women in line with MASLOC's policy of giving priority to women and other marginalized groups in the society.
He noted that the benefit of the MASLOC project could not be overemphasized and said it had helped boost people's businesses including farming, wood work, maternity homes, agro-processing, guinea-fowl rearing, handicraft production, agro-marketing, and women in entrepreneurship among others, and had helped to improve the income of the beneficiaries.
Mr Prempeh stated that the overall MASLOC scheme has so far disbursed over 33 million Ghana cedis in small loans and micro-credit to over 17,000 beneficiaries across the country.
He indicated that in addition, the scheme had disbursed a total amount of 8.5 million Ghana cedis to support over 45,000 pro-poor schemes of 16 ministries, departments, agencies, and some private micro-finance groups.
He urged the beneficiaries to use the loans for the purposes they were meant, and to pay back to enable the scheme to be sustained for others to also benefit.
Mr Alhassan Samari, Upper East Regional Minister, commended the Japanese Government for the gesture and said since the coming into power of the New Patriotic Party government, it had introduced a lot of pro-poor policies to improve the living conditions of the vulnerable
He explained that MASLOC is an institution established by the government to provide credit assistance to those who have no collateral and could not access loans from the traditional financial institutions, and that since the introduction of MASLOC, it had helped a lot of people who could not engage in any business to do so.
The Regional Minister urged MASLOC officials to constantly visit the beneficiaries to see how they were performing, saying this would encourage them to pay back the loans.
He noted that the government would introduce more pro-poor programmes when voted into power and urged the people to conduct themselves in a manner that would not trigger any conflict during the impending elections.
The Deputy Head of Mission of the Japanese Embassy, Mr Yutaka Nakamura, said his outfit was moved by the plight of the flood victims and had to contribute to alleviating their plight.
He expressed the hope that the support from the Japanese government would help mitigate the suffering of the people, since it would empower them to re-engage in various economic activities.
Mr Nakamura indicated that since the floods occurred in 2007, the Japan Mission had been supporting the flood victims and said under its food aid programme the Mission had donated some quantity of rice and other relief items to the flood victims.