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23.03.2004 Regional News

Regional Minister speaks on poverty reduction

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Ho, Mar. 23, GNA - Mr. Kwasi Owusu-Yeboa, Volta Regional Minister on Tuesday asserted that the region would have to tackle its serious poverty situation to attract the necessary assistance required for development.

He said the tendency for the region to pretend that all is well as far as poverty reduction is concerned, defeats any initiatives to correct the situation and improve the lives of the majority of its people.

He was delivering the keynote address at the opening session of the fifth Development Dialogue Series, which focus on the implementation of the Ghana Poverty Reduction Strategy (GPRS) in the Volta Region.

The Dialogue, which brought together over 150 participants representing public sector implementation agencies, local governing bodies, non-governmental organisation and Chiefs is based on the theme, "Decentralising the Ghana Poverty Reduction Strategy: Deepening the involvement of the poor in problem definition and solution".

It is being sponsored by Community Radio Network (CORANET), the Youth Social Foundation (Y-SEF), DANIDA, Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), the Netherlands Development Organisation (SNV), Centre for democratic Development (CDD).

Others are, Centre for Policy Analysis CEPA), the World Bank and the Institute for policy Alternatives (IPA).

Mr Owusu-Yeboa said the poverty situation in the Volta region is no less grievous than anywhere else in the country and yet the situation is presented as if the region was better off.

He said that was why he disagreed with statistical presentation of the region as the fifth on the poverty scale in the country.

"No amount of intellectual sophistry can change it, it is a question of the pocket," he maintained.

Mr Owusu-Yeboa said the lack of attention to address the serious poverty situation of the vast majority of the people in the region is made worse by the people themselves, pretending to be better off than others as far as poverty is concerned.

He regretted that anybody from the region who admitted the crushing poverty situation it is suffering, risked being treated with scorn and derision by the people of the region.

He said, "our poverty makes it impossible for us to identify our potentials."

Mr Owusu-Yeboa therefore, urged citizens of the region not to be scared to invest in the region because their presence would attract others and that negative beliefs which tended to scare the citizens from investing at home are intangible.

He said whereas the profit that would accrue from investing in Accra and Tema would not be reaped in the region, there are other equally rewarding dividends to be gained.

He said the forum for the dialogue should therefore, be "party blind" so that the outcome would be credited with being the beginning of a really practical joint efforts of the people to change the region's destiny for the better.

Togbe Afede the XIV, Agbogbomefia of Asogli, who was the guest of honour said apart from improvement in the macro-economic performance of the country, attitudinal change was a very important pre-requisite for achieving poverty reduction and growth.

Togbe Afede said, "Whereas the rich see limitless opportunities, the world of the poor is a closed one."

He hoped that the dialogue would help change that negative mindset so that the poor people would begin to appreciate the importance of imagination, creativity and hard-work.

"We have dialogued and continue to dialogue, but the desired goals have generally been illusive", Togbe Afede observed and hoped that the current initiative would fashion out an effective monitoring system to provide practical lessons for the future.

Mrs Joan Awunyo-Akaba, Co-ordinator of Future Generation International, a non-governmental organisation, who presided stressed the need for the people of the region to do a through self-assessment in order to discover their capabilities to change their situation for the better.

"Now is the time for Voltarians to serve the region, having served the country for so long", she exhorted.

She observed that because some regions had been frank and vociferous about their poverty situation they were able to attract a large volume of assistance and resources perhaps far out of proportion to the problems they were intended to resolve.

Mrs Awunyo-Akaba observed that if the Volta Region should have a little fraction of such resources she would witness a tremendous transformation within a short time because it possesses the faculties to achieve great things.

Madam Sena Gabianu, Co-ordinator of the programme said though issues of macro-economics seemed far-fetched by the majority of the people, who are also poor, these economic imperatives nevertheless have either negative or positive affects on their lives.

She said it is for this reason that they should be afforded the opportunity to identify and understand in simple terms, what such economic realities were and meant to their lives.

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