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24.02.2006 Regional News

Social Policy Forum Held In The Upper East Region

By GNA

Bolgatanga, Feb.24, GNA- As part of measures to help the Upper East Regional Co-ordinating Council (RCC) address the developmental needs of the Region, the Action For Sustainable Development (ASDUE), a development-oriented organisation based in Bolgatanga, held a two-day workshop to deliberate on pertinent issues. Seventy participants drawn from the RCC, District Assemblies, NGOs, Government Agencies, Religious bodies, among others, attended the forum.

A Communiqu=E9 issued at the end of the discussion stressed the need for the RCC to help revamp the tomato and the meat factories in the region to serve as employment for the people in the area. It also condemned the practice of tomato traders in the country who ignored the produce of Ghanaian farmers and crossed the border to purchase tomatoes from farmers in neighbouring Burkina Faso. The communiqu=E9 alleged that the tomato farmers in Burkina Faso have been using certain chemicals on their tomato farms, which could have serious health implications on consumers. It expressed grave concern over the nefarious activities of Fulani Headsmen who invade Ghanaian farms with their cattle and also sexually abuse Ghanaian women.

The communiqu=E9 further suggested the need for the RCC to build more irrigation dams in the districts to enhance the production of adequate food and also generate employment for the people of the area. Speaking on behalf of the Regional Minister, Mr Boniface Gambila, the Regional Co-ordinating Director (RCD), Mr David Bakari, announced that a team of investors from Italy had arrived in the region to revamp the tomato factory and appealed to the various stakeholders, including traditional rulers and Tomato Farmers to get actively involved to get the project off the ground.

He further stated that district assemblies in the region had been tasked to construct more irrigation dams in their areas to produce more food to avoid food shortage in the region. On the issue of the Fulani Headsmen, the Co-ordinating Director said the matter was at the discussion stage at the national level and a concrete decision would soon be reached on the matter.

Mr. Bakari said the effective development of the Region could only be achieved if much attention was paid to education. "An educated population is an effective ingredient for socio- economic development", he emphasised and therefore called on district assemblies in the region to give priority attention to that sector in their development planning.

He commended Action Aid Ghana (AAG) for sponsoring the programme and urged the organisers to make such fora an annual affair to enable them continue to assess the performance of the region. The Regional Population Officer, Mr Sylvester Agangmikire, giving an overview of ASDUE explained that it originated from a collaboration between the RCC, the National Population Council, and AAG in 2003. He indicated that over the past few years ASDUE had organised capacity building in policy analysis and Advocacy training programmes for it members and stakeholders.

Mr. Agangmikre stated that the main objective of the two-day Regional Social Policy Forum under the theme: "Enhancing Regional Development Through Social Policy Change And Advocacy: The Role of Various Stakeholders" was to examine the development situation of the region in relation to the target of the Millennium Development Goals and the Ghana Growth and Poverty Reduction Strategy. It also aimed at reviewing some sectoral policies and programmes, Identify any gaps and problems in implementation that need reforms, examine the 2006 budget and its potential impact on regional development, so as to make recommendations to improve upon the situation. A Retired Educationist, Mr Robert Ajene, who chaired the function, enjoined the participants to translate what they had learned at the forum into practice to expedite development in the region.

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