Kumbungu, (N/R), Sept 7, GNA - The United States government has provided a 25 million-dollar development assistance to Ghana to help reduce food and livelihood insecurity in 10 vulnerable districts in the country. The five-year Development Assistance Programme (DAP) would be channeled through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and operated by the Opportunities Industrialisation Centre International (OICI) established by the late Reverend Leon H. Sullivan, a US Philanthropist and champion of civil rights.
The OICI new DAP, code-named "Enhance" involves the enhancement of household agriculture, nutrition, risk reduction and community empowerment of 130,000 people in 250 communities.
The DAP would benefit the Tamale Metropolitan Area, Gushiegu/Karaga, Savelugu/Nanton, Tolon/Kumbungu, West Gonja and East Mamprusi Districts in the Northern Region, as well as some selected districts in the Eastern, Ashanti, Western and Greater Accra Regions.
Launching the DAP at Kumbungu in the Tolon/Kumbungu District on Monday, the US Ambassador in Ghana, Mrs Mary Carlin Yates, said OICI in partnership with USAID, had been implementing an effective food security initiative in the Northern Region for the past six years.
She said DAP would increase food production, reduce storage losses, as well as increase access to potable water and sanitation. The Programme also has HIV/AIDS component code-named "HOPE" that seeks to improve care and support for people living with the disease, orphans and vulnerable children.
The Ambassador said African countries affected by HIV/AIDS depended on agriculture for their sustenance and food security, noting that the OICI's new food supplement programme would address this problem by increasing availability and accessibility of food and reducing affected rural household vulnerability.
She said OICI would be working with numerous local civil society organisations and other strategic partners such as Technoserve, Catholic Relief Services (CRS), Adventist Development Relief Agency (ADRA), Counterpart International and Heifer International as well as with the district assemblies to achieve its goals.
Madam Carla Dominique Denizard, Country Representative of OIC Ghana said DAP would extend its services to four additional regions in the country to benefit 125,000 people in the next five-year period of its operations.
She said 50 per cent of OICI resources would go into maternal and child health, expansion of water and sanitation programmes, HIV/AIDS care and support for people living with the disease and AIDS orphans She said under its humanitarian assistance, direct food would be distributed to pregnant women and lactating mothers, people living with HIV/AIDS and HIV/AIDS orphans, while there would also be household rations composed of vegetable oil, soy fortified grits and soy fortified sorghum.
The OICI Country Representative announced that 3,250 farmers would be trained in improved cultivation practices to help increase agricultural production through environmentally sound and natural resource management techniques.
Madam Denizard said the OICI would also promote bio-intensive gardening and micro irrigation technologies for women to ensure an all-year-round access to nutritious vitamin and iron rich foods that would enhance the family's nutrition and decrease malnutrition. She announced that 3,250 mud silos would be constructed while farmers would be trained in post-harvest technologies and storage of vegetable and tubers to reduce losses to about five per cent.
Madam Denizard said the OICI would provide training to women in groundnut oil extraction, guinea fowl rearing, pottery making and beekeeping, as well as entrepreneurship and business management to empower them economically.
On maternal and child health, she said the OICI would work with the Ghana Health Service, Catholic Relief Services, Counterpart International to improve the health and nutrition practices of 28,500 women and children
Madam Denizard said the Ghana Health Service would assist the OICI to embark on behavioural change communication and education on key messages in health, nutrition and sanitation for men, women and children while providing training for the prevention and treatment of diarrhoea malaria guinea worm and water borne diseases.
The OICI Country Representative said under its special initiative, the OICI would improved care and support for 8,965 people living with HIV/AIDS and 7,385 orphans and vulnerable children in the Greater Accra, Eastern, Western and Ashanti Regions.
REASimilarly, 1,500 orphans and vulnerable children would be provided with vocational skills, entrepreneurship and business development skill training through the Orphans and Vulnerable Scholarship Programme, she said.