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                                                               Voices of Grassroots

Contact us: PMB MD 187, Madina-Accra

Location: House. No. 770/1 Near Accra Training College (ATTRACO), Madina                                                               Volume 3, Issue 1
Tel/Fax: (+233-) 21-502324   Mobile (+233) 24-657429

E-mail: grassrootsafrica@grassrootsafrica.org.gh             www.grassrootsafrica.org.gh                                               March, 2009


                                                                         Upper East RCC Lauds GrassRootsAfrica for Sup-
                                                                         porting Decentralization Process

                 Inside this issue:

            Editorial                                             2

            Upper    East   RCC                                   3
            Lauds         Grass-
            RootAfrica for sup-
            porting Decentralisa-
            tion Process

            Datuko LCC Collabo-                                   3
            rates with GHS to Ad-
            dress Health Issues in
            Managers of NGOs                                      4
            urged to use resources
            for Intended purposes

            MMDAs fail to meet                                    5
            Decentralisation policy
            targets-Research find-

            Members of the editorial                              6
                                                                                                                   Editorial Board:

                                                                                           Rudolf Amenga-Etego, Rolanda Kapure Yennah and Edwin Batiir

                                                                              The Editorial Board sincerely thanks readers and all who contribute to make the voices of the
                                                                                                             grassroots heard loud and clear.
                                                   ISSUE II – EDITORIAL

    It is not entirely surprising to hear that some small scale tomato farmers had to commit suicide in 2007 as a result of their
    inability to pay off loans as stated in a new study conducted to ascertain the impact of Trade Liberalization on small scale
    producers especially women. The stories of small-scale farmers committing suicide as a result of losing their livelihoods
    through unfair trade practices abound in several development countries.

    The study titled " Free Trade, Small Scale Production and Poverty", found that the unfortunate victims, mostly women had
    no option, but to end their lives because they could no longer bear various degrees of harassment which creditors (mainly
    individuals) subject them to, besides losing the market to imported tomato.

    It was always expected that the inability of small-scale farmers to raise flexible funds for investment and to repay the loans
    would result in hardships. What is worse is that tomato farmers in particular continue to suffer both from price volatility and
    competition from imported tomato paste.

    "The report published by SEND Foundation found that the tomato farmers admit lack of Government support in the produc-
    tion of tomatoes", said the report, which was launched in Accra a month ago by the Social Enterprise Foundation of West
    Africa, Ghana Chapter (SEND-Ghana).

    It is not surprising that the study found that in 2007 the tomato-farming season saw increase of tomato imports from Burk-
    ina Faso when Ghana has everything it takes to be self-sufficient in food production. The situation is not different in this
    year’s tomato-farming season. Tomato Traders had started boycotting tomato from the Upper East Region and trooping to
    purchase tomato from neighbouring Burkina Faso at the expense of the Ghanaian produce.

    What is letting this country down is the political will to mechanize Agriculture and make flexible credit facilities available to
    farmers. Political will is what is making a desert country like Burkina Faso, to be exporting tomato to Ghana at the expense
    of the country’s tomato produce.

    Ghana is on record as being the second largest importer of tomato in the World, second to Germany. Records at the Minis-
    try of Trade and Industry in 2000, indicated that Ghana imported about 10 million kilogram's of tomato paste at about 8.9
    million dollars. This rose to about 12 million kilogram's at about 9.6 million us dollars in 2001.The year 2002 saw the impor-
    tation of 16.4 million kilogram's at a total cost of 12.7 million us dollars.

    The European Union was reported to have exported 27.000 tones of preserved tomatoes to Ghana in 2003.Though in
    2004, 2005, 2006 figures were not available, the trend suggests that each year Ghana's import volume of tomato paste
    jumped by about 23 per cent. According to the Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana , over 700 tomato farmers had al-
    ready been rendered unemployed as a result of imports,

    The farmers appear less hopeful under the present circumstances, according to the study. The situation had led to farmers
    especially the female farmers to conclude that it is no more lucrative to engage in tomato production.

    A way out of this is to extend flexible credit facilities to tomato farmers who engage in small-scale farming. Besides there is
    the need to create the opportunities that would increase access to market. In that regard it is prudent to mandate district
    assemblies to link the small-scale farmers to the School Feeding Programme to serve a ready market instead of imported

    In fact it is gladdening to hear the Vice President, John Mahama stress the need to protect the indigenous sector of our
    economy. The Vice President who is conventionally the Head of the Economic Management Team should put his feet on
    the paddle and ensure the sustainability of the Ghanaian Livelihood.

    It was also quite refreshing when he visited the tomato framers on their farms, the Pwalugu Tomato factory in the Upper
    East Region and assured them that the factory as from next year would purchase farmers produce and no more tomato
    would be allowed to go rotten on farms. He also indicated that for the medium term he would negotiate for institutions in
    Accra to purchase the produce.

    He noted that the District Assemblies, the farmers and other stakeholders would be encouraged to own shares in the to-
    mato factory. Let us hope that the present Government which places emphasis on improving the Agricultural sector would
    help resolve the problem of tomato farmers in the Upper East Region to prevent the ritual suicides by the farmers in the
    Region. This could be one of the effective measures to help bridge the gap between the North and the South.

    The Editor: Samuel Akapule

Upper East RCC Lauds GrassRootsAfrica for Support- enable it complement Government efforts at realizing its dream of
ing Decentralization Process                       decentralization process.

                                                                          The Director for Gender and Public Policy of GrassRootsAfrica,
The Upper East Regional Coordinating Council (RCC) has com-
                                                                       Ms Hawa Nibi, said GrassRootsAfrica would continue to collabo-
mended the Foundation for Grassroots Initiatives in Africa
                                                                       rate with the assemblies in the region in the implementation of the
(GrassRootsAfrica) a Non-Governmental Organization working in
                                                                       decentralization process and asked them to continue to give them
the area of poverty reduction, strengthening political, economic
                                                                       the necessary support.
and social rights of the poor and marginalized, for complementing
the efforts of the District Assemblies in the implementation of the       She explained that the overall objective of the project was to
decentralization process in the Region.                                contribute to poverty reduction within the context of Ghana Poverty
                                                                       Reduction Strategy and Millennium Development Goals.
   The Chief Director of the RCC, Mr. Samuel N'lary, made the
commendation at a stakeholders' meeting with Coordinating Direc-
                                                                        She mentioned Gender and Public Policy, Health, Food Secu-
tors, District Planners, and Local Civic Coalition groups at Kum-
                                                                    rity and Nutrition, Rights, Civic Action and Governance, Trade and
bosigo near Bolgatanga Municipality.
                                                                    Economic Justice as some of the thematic areas GrassRootsAfrica
                                                                    is working on.
   Under the project dubbed "Enhancing Democratic Governance
Through Local Civic Coalition", Local Civic Coalition are formed at     The stakeholders meeting was aimed at brainstorming and so-
area and town councils in the Districts in the region and empow- liciting views from the participants on how to effectively collaborate
ered to enable them participate in decision making processes on to make decentralization efficiently implemented at the grassroots
issues affecting them at the grassroots level.                      Level.
The project, which had been in its implementation stages since
2007 and sponsored by the Department for International Develop-
ment (DFID) is gaining its roots in the beneficiary districts. These Datuko LCC Collaborates with GHS to address Health
districts are Talansi-Nabdam, Kassena-Nankana, Bolgatanga Mu-
nicipal, and Bongo.                                                  Issues in Datuko

   The project is being replicated with funding from the European      The Datuko Local Civic Coalition (LCC) in the Talensi-Nabdam
Union (EU) in two more districts namely the Bawku West and Kas-        District in the Upper East Region under the auspices of Grass-
sena-Nankana West Districts in the region and one district in the      RootsAfrica, a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) and the
Greater Accra Region.                                                  Ghana Health Service (GHS) are working together to stamp out
                                                                       certain negative cultural practices hindering health deliveries in the
   Mr. N'lary pointed out that since the project started in 2007 in community.
the selected districts it had made a lot of progressive impact on the
decentralization processes in the districts through the formation of      One of the major areas which have been identified by the two
the Local Civic Coalitions. Some communities have often been           bodies are the spate of maternal mortality in the area as many
able to identify and prioritize their needs and plan together with the pregnant women are disallowed by family heads to attend health
Assemblies for development.                                            facilities on the basis of cultural practices. In the place of orthodox
                                                                       health facilities, family heads consult soothsayers and oracles to
"People at the grassroots level have now been empowered effec- perform certain rituals which they believe could facilitate the deliv-
tively through the support of GrassRootsAfrica to participate ac- ering process of the a pregnant woman. Most often than not this
tively in the decision making processes thereby enhancing the lead to the death of many pregnant women in the area.
decentralization process in the region", the Chief Director of the
RCC observed.                                                             As part of the measures to help curb the problem, the Datuko
                                                                       Local Civic Coalition invited the Talensi-Nabdam District Director of
    He noted that through the assistance given by GrassRoot- Health Service, Miss Rosemond Azure to a discussion on the is-
sAfrica in the decentralization process, citizens have now been sue. She advised them especially the family heads to allow preg-
enlightened and informed about certain government policies which nant women to attend the health delivery centres for constant
were not known to them and cited for instance many communities check up and deliveries.
which were ignorant of the fact that pregnant women and children
under age five could access free medical care.                         She told the family heads that they could go along with their sooth-
                                                                       saying, but they should allow the pregnant women to also attend
   The Director of Rights and Governance Programme Edwin Batiir clinics for anti-natal care services.
noted that through its activities, Local Civic Coalitions had also
made an impact in the area of educating the citizens about their She emphasized that it was wrong not to allow pregnant women to
rights and responsibilities.                                           seek for medical care and stated that maternal mortality could be
                                                                       curbed if pregnant women were allowed to go for anti-natal check
    He noted that this had resulted in making many communities up and their deliveries supervised by qualified midwives.
hold public office holders accountable. He cited a situation where
the Local Civic Coalition in Kongo where rampant accidents oc- Ms Azure lamented that among all the nine Districts in the Region,
curred organized a press conference to draw the attention of the Talensi-Nabdam was at the bottom last year in terms of patronage
authority concerned about the plight of the people. Mr. N'lary of pregnant women to health post during deliveries. She explained
noted that through the project people have now been sensitized on that when she was the District Director in charge of Bawku West a
the need to pay taxes, which many people used to invade.               similar problem existed but with support from others she embarked
                                                                       on advocacy making use of durbars, organising seminars, work-
    He asked the NGO to continue to champion the good works shops, and sensitization programmes to solve the problem.
and appealed to the District Assemblies to open up to the NGO to

    The District Director commended the Management of GrassRootsAfrica           carried out so far are quite impressive." She said the project would
 and the Datuko LCC Group for complementing the GHS in discharging its           help hasten and improve the quality of the Government's decen-
 duties and indicated that the Directorate would also collaborate with them in   tralization concept, and urged the district assemblies' in the Region,
 the discharging of duties.                                                      to support and co-operate with GrassRootsAfrica so that together
                                                                                 they would make a greater positive impact on the decentralization
     Another problem that emerged at the meeting was the poor attitudes of process.
 health workers to patients. The Director assured the community members that
 appropriate measures including sanctions would be adopted to address the She explained that one of the major aims of Africans in the Dias-
 issue.                                                                          pora is to contribute to the development of Africans at home, espe-
                                                                                 cially in the field of human resource development.
    It also came to light that most of the community members in the area did not
 know most of the Government policies including free care for pregnant women Ms Enoh pledged that the team would continue to look for and
 and children under the age of five years.                                       mobilize resources in the Diaspora to assist Africans to develop.
                                                                                 She encouraged Africans to be positively minded and adopt the
     The Director entreated them to take advantage of the opportunities and "can do" spirit, by working harder wherever they find themselves.
 avail themselves for medical treatment.                                         Ms Enoh noted that all over the world Ghanaians are recognized as
                                                                                 hard working and could perform better on the job market.
      The Participants who were mostly family heads agreed to the suggestion
 that pregnant women be allowed to visit health posts constantly for check-up Collaborating partner of the project is Community Partnership for
 whereas they also consult their soothsayers and oracles.                        Health and Development. The Department for International Devel-
                                                                               opment (DFID), UK, is sponsoring the ongoing project in four
   Mr. Emmanuel Kob-puo, a technical officer in charge of diseases control of
                                                                               Districts in the Region namely Talensi-Nabdam, Bongo, Kassena-
 the Datuko Health post advised the people about the practice of good hygiene
                                                                               Nankana and Bolgatanga Municipality.
 including bathing, keeping their environment clean, construction of good
 drainage systems to curb malaria and also boil their water before drinking to
                                                                               Metropolitan/ Municipal/ District Assemblies
 avoid contracting any water born diseases.
                                                                               (MMDAs) Fail to Meet Decentralization Policy Tar-
                                                                                  gets - Research Findings.

                                                                                  Findings of a research conducted by three Civil Society Organiza-
                                                                                  tions (CSOs) on the policy of decentralization introduced by the
                                                                                  Government in 1980s indicate that there are some major challenges
                                                                                  affecting the effective implementation of the concept.
Managers of NGOs urged to use resources for intended
                                                                                  The findings indicated that though the local government system had
                                                                                  put in place the structures, they were non-functional and that some
                                                                                  of the Sub-metropolitan, district, Urban, Area, Town and Zonal
Managers of non-governmental organisations have been urged to use funds they Councils and Unit Committees could not perform the functions
secure for specific projects judiciously and complete such projects on schedule. assigned to them by the instrument that established the assemblies.
Mr. Andrews Kitcher, a Member of the UK-based group, known as GHAR-
WEG and partners to Foundation for Grassroots Initiatives in Africa                  The research finding was issued and signed by Mr. Edwin
(GrassRootsAfrica) made this known at Kombusgo in the Upper East Region, Batiir, Project Director of Right and governance Project of Grass-
during a team inspection of the progress of some projects in the Region. RootsAfrica, and Mr. Bismark Ayorogo, the President of NOR-
                                                                                  PRA. It was read by Mr. Ayorogo at a Press Conference held in
GrassRootsAfrica is implementing a project entitled "Enhancing Democratic Kombusogo, near Bolgatanga.
Governance Through Local Civic Coalitions" in the Region. The goal of the
project is to contribute to poverty reduction within the context of the Ghana The three CSOs noted that the scenario about the findings of the
Growth and Poverty Reduction Strategy II (GPRSII) and the Millennium Devel- decentralization process was not quite different from the other re-
opment                                                                    Goals. gions, and said the proposed recommendations be implemented to
                                                                                  improve upon the work of the MMDAs in the country.
Since the inception of the project in 2007, democratic governance has been
consolidated in some localities and expanded to other districts in the Region.       The findings explained that the local Governance system was
The project has empowered and increased civic involvement in public policy at aimed at getting as many people as possible to get involved in the
the local level. It is founded on four strategic pillars comprising facilitation, governance process, and to provide for subordinate bodies to exist
information, local resource mobilization and Advocacy.                            and function as part of the local governance system, but this was
                                                                                  not so under the system.
Mr. Kitcher asked the local officials of GrassRootsAfrica to be transparent,
accountable and responsible to their donors in order to improve on the lives of      The findings cited the Upper East Region where the local gov-
the poor. He stressed on the need for GrassRootsAfrica to endeavour to meet ernment structures were non-functional and pointed out that out of
their set target objectives and said this would enable the organisation to win the 8 districts where the research was conducted, only one, the
public confidence and to get more funding for physical development.               Bawku West district, could boast of having all the town and area
                                                                                  councils, working and contributing to the work of the Assembly
Ms Catherine Enoh, a member of the GHARWEG Team, was full of praise for and said it was even through the
the project implementation and said: “The activities

     efforts of Ibis West Africa that helped constitute the substructures in that substructures of the decentralization system such as urban, town,
    area.                                                                         area councils, and to empower them with financial resources to
                                                                                  enable them to procure basic logistics to carry out their duties.
        The other seven remaining districts in the Region were now working
    towards activating the town, Area, and other sub-structures of the concept        It added that the DACF should be made available early to avoid
    under the Community Based Rural Development Project (CBRDP).                  derailing plans and programmes of assemblies, and asked that im-
                                                                                  mediate steps should be taken to stop what it termed "Statutory
       The findings also revealed that many members of the substructures in Deduction" from the DACF.
    the local governance system did not know their roles and duties, and
    noted that the collection of revenues for the assemblies was perceived as        It recommended that the Central Government should in the in-
    their main duties.                                                            terim absorb the payment of allowances to members working at the
                                                                                  substructure levels until more sustainable payment arrangements
        The delay in the payment of the District Assembly Common Fund are made.
    (DACF), the findings indicated, was another major challenge confronting
    the decentralization policy since they could not embark on their develop-        Efforts should be made to enforce the legislative provision which
    mental programmes effectively.                                                demands that those substructures should be paid 5 per cent of reve-
                                                                                  nue allocated for and on behalf of the assemblies, stressing that this
        It indicated that the 1992 constitution stipulates that there shall be a would enable them to carry out some of their functions.
    fund to be paid on quarterly instalments’ basis to district assemblies for
    development, and noted that this was not abided by as the DACF was Decentralized departments should be worked out gradually and
    often paid to the assemblies in arrears and very late. "This jeopardizes well coordinated into the District Assembly system to enhance
    developmental projects of the assemblies, especially districts in the poor efficiency, and also harmonize efforts at the development at the
    Regions", it stressed.                                                        local level.

        Another area of the findings said there were some instances where the The findings stressed the need to hasten the implementation of the
    Central Government or Ministries, Departments and Agencies acting on recommendations since District Assemblies were physically closer
    behalf of government had deducted various amounts of monies allocated to the people and the assembly would also know them better in
    to district assemblies under the disguise of providing facilities and ser- terms of their development needs than the central Government.
    vices to the assemblies, citing the sanitation equipment as examples.
                                                                                 It also indicated that if the recommendations are implemented it
       “The sad part of it is that the Assemblies are not normally informed would help empower the people, especially the marginalized, to
    about these deductions before hand, making the deductions an unexpected participate actively in the development process that affect their
    shortage for the assemblies.                                               everyday lives.

     It also noted that although the staffing positions of most of the District It emphasized that decentralization, if properly implemented as
    Assemblies in the region had improved over the years in terms of attend- prescribed in the "statutory book", it could go a long way to reduce
    ing courses to improve upon their human resource bases, personnel from poverty in the region and the entire nation.
    the administrative categories and clerical staff including Coordinating
    Directors are the people benefiting from that package at the expense of       The Research was under the title "Speeding up the Pace of De-
    other groups.                                                              centralization in Ghana as a way of Reducing Poverty: The Case of
                                                                               Upper East Region of Ghana".
       It stated that whilst many of the assemblies in the Region have one
    Planning and Budget officer, there were equally many without qualified            It was sponsored by Ibis West Africa and carried out by the
    district engineers and other technical staffs.                              Foundation for Grassroots Initiatives in Africa (GrassRootsAfrica),
                                                                                 Northern Patriots in Research and Advocacy (NORPRA) and Ac-
       The findings also observed that many of the decentralized departments      tion for Sustainable Development of Upper East (ASDUE) was
    have officers heading them, but that the issue of concern was the quality     conducted in the District Assemblies in the Upper East Region.
    of officials heading these organizations.

      “With the exception of some departments such as the Ghana Health
                                                                                                 Thought for the Quarter
    Service and few others, many other decentralized agencies are manned by
    what could be termed as “Caretaker" heads, indicating that they were not
    qualified to handle such positions.

         The findings stated that there were some core departments in the Dis-    Liberty is the only thing you
    tricts including the Department of Social Welfare, Department of Town
    and Country Planning, Department of Parks and Gardens, Department of
    Animal Health Science, Department of Forestry and Birth and Death
    Registry whose duties and functions are not well coordinated into the
    main duty of the assemblies structures and are operating in isolation.
    They only take their orders directly from their head offices in Accra.        cannot have-unless you are
       "Plans and Budgets of other departments are in many instances deter-
    mined and taken entirely by their 'Mother' head offices in direct contra-
    vention of the section 38(3) of the Local Government Act. Act 462, of

    The findings recommended to Government through the Ministry of Local
                                                                                   willing to give it to others.
    Government, Rural Development and Environment that there was the
    need to clarify the various roles and responsibilities and duties of
                                                                                  Irving Wallace- “The Man”
                                                                Mr. Edwin Naa Batiir– Director of Rights and Govern-

Members of the                  Editorial Board

                                                               Rolanda Kapure Yennah– Director of Communication
                                                               and Advocacy

Mr. Rudolf Amenga-Etego– Executive Director-GrassRootsAfrica


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