The National Federation of Ghanaians Resident in Belgium, popularly known as GHANABA, is realizing one of the major aims of the organization being an active facilitator for investments and development of the mother country Ghana.
The affiliate associations of Ghanaba have been initiating modest projects in education and health sectors in Ghana but the Federation has now been able to obtain an amount of 320.000 euro to finance agricultural production activities in Ghana. The project will assist small-holder farmers to produce honey, snails, mushrooms, grasscutter (Thryonomys swinderianus), palm oil and ostrich. The project will cover 500 farmers from four communities in the Sefwi Wiaso district (Western Region), and two communities in the Hohoe District (Volta Region).
The funding of the project was obtained from the Social Fund, Voedings Industrie Alimentair (VIA), in Belgium..The project was identified and formulated by the International Centre for Enterprise Development (ICED), a local Ghanaian NGO with its offices at Legon in Accra. ICED shall implement the project in Ghana while support services will be provided by the Faculty of Human Ecology of the VUB (Free University of Brussels). The Belgian NGO FOS - Socialistische Solidariteit in Brussels through partnership with GHANABA facilitated the acquisition of the funds, and the two shall carry out the monitoring and reporting tasks to VIA.
The project therefore gives birth to one of the first partnerships between a Belgian Development NGO and an Immigrant organization like GHANABA, to finance and implement a development initiative of that magnitude. GHANABA, after its re-organization in 1997 as the umbrella organization for the Ghanaian community in Belgium, adopted as one of its objectives, the facilitation of investments and development programs in their mother country Ghana.
Already, some initiatives have been supported in the past. These include the fundraising initiative during the Brussels Marathon in 2002 when the NGO Action Aid raised funds for a project in Tamale. Since then the Federation intensified its efforts to identify its role in sustainable development in Ghana. This was meant to compliment the efforts of its affiliate community-based organizations which are active in that field. Among some of the activities of the affiliates are:
- the “adoption” of the Maternity Ward of the Okomfo Anokye Hospital in Kumasi by the Asanteman Association in Belgium;
- the donation of computers to three secondary schools in the Eastern Region by the Okyeman Union
- donation of electric generator, deep freezer and other equipments to the School for the Deaf and Dumb at Jamasi, hospital equipment to Asonomaso and Asamang Hospitals by the Kwabere ne Sekyere Association in Belgium;
- the donation of computers and other hospital equipments to Sunyani Hospital by the Brong Ahafo Association in Belgium and
- the “adoption of some children from the Anyinam SOS Children's Home by the Baako Ankonam Association in Belgium
Although all these initiatives are worthy and helpful to Ghana, the Federation Ghanaba was looking out for a more productive project which could create employment and income to alleviate the high poverty level at both the rural and urban areas in Ghana.
Ghanaba therefore organized a series of seminars and workshops to define and develop its role in sustainable development in Ghana. These seminars were organized in conjunction with the VUB and also OCIV(Centre for Integration of Refugees) which implements the project “Migration and Development 'financed by the Belgian Administration for Development Cooperation.
The Federation was busy identifying prospective projects when ICED approached it for partnership for projects in Ghana. ICED had identified a food security and income generating project in Sefwi Wiaso and Wli communities in Ghana. It needed support and assistance to secure funding for the project. Prof. E. Boon, and Prof. Hens from the VUB and Mr. Van Melkebeke (Chief Advisor to the Vice Premier of the Flemish Government) had already gone to appraise the pilot initiative which was underway in Sefwi Wiaso. To commit the Federation to such partnership to support the initiative, Mr. Kwaku Boamah Acheampong, President of Ghanaba went to assess the pilot project being undertaken in Sefwi Wiaso. He met the potential beneficiary farmers, the district agricultural director and his staff as well as the Community leaders.
The President helped to identify a potential donor and the funding request was submitted to VIA. VIA requested the supervision of a recognized Belgian development NGO. Talks and dialogue ensued which resulted into partnership agreements between the four organizations namely - GHANABA, FOS, VUB and ICED. VIA therefore approved the funding request and committed itself to provide an amount of 320.000 euro for the four year period (2004-2007) of the project.
The first installment of 82.000 euro has been released by VIA and 50.000 euro of that amount has already been transferred to the project accounts in Ghana. The training of the beneficiary farmers have commenced in earnest and already materials and other inputs are being mobilized for the production activities to take off.
The communities in Sefwi Wiaso shall engage in honey, snails, mushrooms and grasscutter production. The farmers in Wli shall embark on grasscutter, ostrich as well as palm oil farming. Full project dossier is available for interested readers.
The official launching of the project shall be held at Sefwi Wiaso and Wli during the Easter holidays in 2005 (22-26 March). It is our hope that this project will pave the way for more programs and projects to assist our poor brothers and sisters in Ghana. The partnership between FOS and GHANABA is also envisaged to progress in future on other levels like educational activities in Belgium.
Let us all help to make these initiatives successful.
President of the Ghanaian Federation in Belgium