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29.11.2005 General News

Assisting Ghana's democracy is among my priorities - Ambassador

By GNA
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Tamale, Nov. 29, GNA - Mrs. Pamela Bridgewater, United States Ambassador in Ghana said in Tamale on Tuesday that assisting Ghana's democracy and its development were among her top priorities. She said: "Our mission provides a wide range of assistance and undertakes many outreach efforts with these goals in mind".

Mrs Bridgewater was speaking at the signing ceremony of a 35,000-dollar U.S. grant for four Democracy and Human Rights organisations in Tamale and 10 self-help organisations in Northern Ghana as part of her three-day visit to Tamale, the Northern Regional Capital. Of the 10 democracy and Human Rights Fund grantees, four were in Tamale. Three of the organisations would also use the grants to fight to eliminate abuses of women and children, such as widowhood rites and intestate practices, persecution of suspected witches, and female genital mutilation.

The Ambassador said traditional authorities and rural communities would be trained in conflict resolution skills while U.S. government would continue to provide assistance to NGOs that were involved in the promotion of democracy to bring democracy to the grassroots.

"These programmes would show communities in Northern Ghana how democratic practices and respect for human rights would offer so many possibilities for positive change. These programmes were to bring hope to the oppressed whether they were oppressed by harmful customs or economic plight", she pointed out.

Mrs. Bridgewater said the Democracy and Human Rights Fund and the Special Self-Help Programme stood out because they reach down to the grassroots level and assist community-based organisations to achieve their aspirations for democracy and development. The Ambassador announced that the U.S. government would, this year provide 70,000 dollars of which half would be devoted to projects in the three Northern Regions.

These projects would be expected to create additional income in rural communities, provide better sanitation and stem erosion to improve the quality of life in Northern Ghana.

"This is my first trip to Ghana's Northern Regions, and I understand that your needs are great here. We are committed to assisting Northern Ghana to the furthest extent we can", she emphasised. Mrs Bridgewater said since the inception of the Democracy and Human Rights Funds in 1991, the U.S. government had provided more than 1.5 million dollars to promote human rights and democracy in the country. She said the U.S. Embassy would this year award 80,000 dollars to 10 organisations, which were engaged in democratisation and human rights work.

Mrs Bridgewater said the Ambassador's Special Self-Help Programme would empower individuals and communities through increase access to education, health, vocational training and sanitation. "Our Mission seeks to support high-impact projects that can be quickly implemented to improve communities' economic and social conditions", She said.

Mrs Bridgewater announced that through the self-help programme, the U.S. Embassy had provided about 1.3 million dollars to fund 331 projects in Ghana over the past 15 years.

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