08.04.2020 Opinion

What A Lockdown Means To The 5 Northern Regions

By Adongo A. D. Fatawu
What A Lockdown Means To The 5 Northern Regions
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The call for a lockdown in the northern parts of Ghana, is undeniably a call for another epidemic dubbed "Hunger and Starvation” capable of consuming lives as much as the COVID-19 can.

Health workers noted that persons with underlying health conditions are more vulnerable to COVID-19 than those without underlying health conditions.

This, they, therefore, advise persons to stay healthy and boost their immune system to gain more chances of fighting the COVID-19.

Sadly, one cannot stay healthy or boost the immune system without being able to afford vitamin C or other food supplements; this is the case of the 5 northern regions.

The highest poverty headcount in Ghana is found in the Northern regions, according to the Seventh Ghana Living Standards Survey (GLSS7), hence, are vulnerable to hunger and starvation in a lockdown situation.

The statistics indicate, the 3, now 5 regions in the North together accounted for 67.2 percent of those living in extreme poverty in Ghana.

“The Upper West Region had the highest incidence of extreme poverty of 45.2 percent, followed by the Northern Region (30.7 percent) and the Upper East Region at 27.7 percent”

It is sad to note, more than half of the people living in extreme poverty in the country are emanating from the 5 regions of the North out of 16 regions; how will these people survive in a Lockdown if they are to be treated equally as their southern counterparts?

Moreover, the northern part of Ghana has more extended families than nuclear families; members of these extended families depend on the few employed relatives, thus employees in the Northern sector has little to save and cannot survive a week in a lockdown neither to talk of the majority who are unemployed.

Another nerve-wracking matter from the statistics is the fact that, 91.4 percent of households in the Northern region do not have water supply in the house, 94.4 percent households in the Upper East region do not have water supply in the house and 95.9 percent households in the Upper West region do not have water supply in the house, thus, these people survives by sourcing water from neighbours, Wells, Natural Sources and others.

With the hand washing campaign to combat COVID-19, how will the people survive in a lockdown?

As compared to the southern parts, these 5 Northern regions are undoubtedly the vulnerable regions pertaining to sustainable livelihoods coupled with inadequate attention from the government; this is indicated by the border lockdown and COVID-19 testing centre that is still not effective in the North.

Drawing experience from the past, the Gold Coast (Modern Ghana) Influenza in 1918-1919 recorded 60,000 Official estimated deaths in the country, out of which, the Northern territory alone accounted for half of the figure (30,000 deaths); this should give us an idea of how volatile these regions are.

If you are doubting the vulnerability and volatility of these 5 Northern regions, ask the MPs and Ministers coupled with all the 'Big Men' from the North, why they cannot stay in the North just for a month?

If you still want to argue, come to the North and stay for 3 months, let's see whether you will run back or you will stay?

This is not to say, there should not be a lockdown in the Northern regions, it is to inform the government to strategies two-times the relief measures she is providing to persons under the lockdown in the southern parts if there are plans to lockdown the North.

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