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08.08.2005 Regional News

NGO disburses 4.9 billion cedis in Northern Region


Dalun (N/R), Aug 08, GNA - The Ghanaian Danish Communities Association (GDCA), a non-governmental organisation, last year disbursed 4.9 billion cedis to 9,100 people in the Northern Region under its micro-credit schemes to undertake income generating activities.

Under the micro credit programmes, the NGO disbursed funds to women, men and youth groups through its satellite NGOs such as Simli Pong, which disbursed 1.8 billion cedis benefiting 3,200 people and the Community Life Improvement Project, (CLIP) assisted with 400 million cedis, benefiting 700 people to alleviate poverty

Of the 4.9 billion cedis, the government provided 700 million cedis assistance under the Emergency Social Relief Programme (ESRP) for 1,800 people while UNICEF's support of two billion cedis was disbursed to 3,400 people in seven districts in the region.

Beneficiaries of the scheme are engaged in sheanut and groundnut oil extraction as well as rice cultivation and processing. Dr Abubakr Al-Hassan, Chairman of the GDCA, said this at the 12th annual "Denmark Seminar" of the NGO at Dalun in the Tolon-Kumbungu District on Saturday.

The two-day seminar, which was on the theme: "Access to markets and fair play", provided a platform for NGOs operating under the GDCA, beneficiary communities and a delegation from Denmark to deliberate on the theme.

A similar forum dubbed: "Ghana Seminar", was also organised in Denmark and deliberations from the two seminars would be used to create a forum for advocacy for change.

Dr Al-Hassan said despite assistance the NGOs were providing, many of the beneficiaries were faced with the problem of finding markets for their products "due to the open market policy of the government". He said the policy had made it possible for inferior and subsidized goods to flood the markets at very low prices, thereby making the local products uncompetitive.

''The policy has not only made it difficult for the beneficiaries to repay their loans but is also endangering the sustainability of the schemes.'' Dr Al-Hassan said the efforts of the NGOs and beneficiaries would be meaningless "if they do not find markets for their produce. The issue of the lack of access to markets should be addressed to help raise the income levels of the people".

Alhaji Abubakar Saddique Boniface, the Northern Regional Minister, commended the GDCA for providing social services, infrastructure, literacy and food security programmes, as well as micro-credit schemes to the people, especially those in the rural communities. In a speech read on his behalf, the Regional Minister said GDCA's contribution to poverty reduction was in line with the government's framework for Ghana Poverty Reduction Strategy (GPRS).

He said the government had put in place mechanisms to promote local industry and at the same time, pursuing a policy of private sector economy so that local industries, organizations, and individuals could take advantage of the opportunities in the global economy.

Alhaji Boniface said: "It is the government's desire to promote local industries by the creation of the private sector support fund and granting of tax relieves and holidays for investors who are willing to set up industries in the country". 08 Aug 05