Sunday, August 30, 2009


BARELY two-and-a-half years after the introduction of the neem tree extract technology in selected farming communities in the Northern Region, farmers are now recording minimal post harvest losses and increases in crop yield.
At a recent evaluation of the new initiative at Kpilo in the Tolon-Kumbungu District, beneficiary farmers stated that the initiative proved successful after they used the extracts to store their foodstuffs.
The farmers also observed that pests such as weevils that usually fed on grains when they were stored, was now a thing of the past.
According to them, until recently, they could not store their farm produce on a sustainable basis while the application of compost manure to help increase yield was their greatest challenge.
“I have gained a lot from using this new initiative and I thank the facilitators of the programme for increasing our knowledge; in fact, I am happy to be part of this and hope my colleagues in other parts of the country would do the same to enhance food security in the country”, one of the farmers stated.
The initiative, which is a more cost-effective way of reducing post harvest losses, was introduced by the African Farm Radio Research Initiative (AFRRI), an international non-governmental organisation after a series of researches into the uses of neem extract.
The initiative was supported by the AFRRI partners like Simli FM, a community radio station at Dalun in the Northern Region, Radio Afram Plains, RAP FM in Donkorkrom,Volta Star Radio in Ho, Classic FM in Techiman, and Radio Ada.
The beneficiary communities are Bihinayili, Kpilo, Tali Zonayili and Ta Kpeli.
The National Research Co-ordinator of the AFRRI and the Research Assistants, Messrs Benjamin Fiafor and Wellington Amankwa Mpeniasah, respectively, said the evaluation was to help assess the effectiveness of radio campaigns on the use of the neem tree extracts over a six-month period.
According to them, the initiative was a three-and-a-half year programme aimed at measuring the effectiveness of radio communications in improving agricultural productivity and assisting rural communities to address their food security challenges.
The researchers further stated that there would be an outcome evaluation later where standard questionnaires would be distributed to farmers in their respective houses to assess the impact of the initiative on individual basis.
The Station Head of Simli Radio, Madam Lydia Ajono, observed that the six-month campaign on the use of neem tree extract through the radio, proved successful.
According to her, strategies like community participatory radio production format, which involved focus group discussions among beneficiary farmers, were used to assess the impact of the initiative.
“The feedback was good as we realised that few women farmers had knowledge of how to produce neem extract”, she stated.
The station head further said the monitoring and feedback mechanism, follow-up monthly visits to farmers’ fields, among other strategies, showed that many women had started producing neem oil for medicinal purposes as well as for storage of their grains.
She announced that Simli Radio had so far produced 24 programmes, including jingles on the new initiative.

Friday, August 28, 2009


From Vincent Amenuveve, Tamale.

TWO persons, Evans Duku and Mohammed Abdulai, have been fined GH¢300 each by the Tamale District Court for various road traffic offences.
In default, they would serve up to six months imprisonment in hard labour.
They pleaded guilty to the charges of parking at unauthorised place, riding on cycle tracks, unlicensed rider, failure to obtain valid road worthiness certificate and use of uninsured motorbike.
In the case of Duku, a taxi driver, the prosecution told the court, Presided over by Mr Gabriel Mate-Teye, that on July 16, 2009, at about 8:25 a.m. the Northern Regional Police Commander, Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Angwubutoge Awuni, intercepted Duku’s taxi cab for obstructing other road users as he had parked and was picking passengers at a spot where a “NO PARKING” sign had been erected.
Duku was arrested and charged with parking at an unauthorised place.
Abdulai, a motor rider, was however, charged with four counts of riding in cycle tracks, failure to obtain valid road worthy certificate and use of uninsured motorbike.
He pleaded not guilty on all the counts.
The prosecution told the court that on July 15, 2009 at about 3:05 p.m., police personnel from the Regional Motor Traffic and Transport Unit (MTTU) of the Ghana Police Service led by its Commander, Deputy Superintendent of Police, Nana Kumi, were on patrol duties when Abdulai was nabbed for riding his motorbike in the bicycle lane thereby, obstructing the cyclists and the pedestrians.
The prosecution said investigations further revealed that the motorbike was not covered by both insurance and road worthy certificates. He also failed to produce a license for the motor.


A €22 million credit facility under the second phase of the Ghana Private Sector Development Fund (GPSDF) has been made available to operators of small and medium-scale enterprises (SME) in the northern part of the country.
The SMEs could access loans between GH¢50,000 and GH¢1.1 million to expand their businesses and help reduce poverty levels and unemployment in the area.
The fund was financed by the Italian Government following an agreement signed between the governments of Ghana and Italy.
At the inaugural ceremony, the Regional Trade and Industry Officer, Mr Gilbert Sebik, said it was his belief that the facility would ultimately help improve the business climate in northern Ghana.
“I am happy with the criteria because many of the SMEs such as shea-butter and rice processing enterprises in the three northern regions are dominated by women who cannot expand their businesses because of lack of access to capital,” Mr Sebik stated.
He urged SMEs in the northern part of the country to make maximum use of the facility to create wealth for themselves and reduce “persistent poverty in the area”.
Mr Sebik entreated managers of the facility to relax some of the conditions a little where necessary, to enable as many people as possible to benefit from the facility.
In a speech read on his behalf, the Deputy Northern Regional Minister, Mr Moses Mabengba, mentioned inadequate access to finance, logistics management, low productivity, acquisition and application of appropriate technology.
The Director and Head of the Treasury Department of the Bank of Ghana, Mr Francis Andoh, stated that the credit facility was a long-term loan with interest rate between nine and 12 per cent.
He also indicated that the loan was attractive and advised the beneficiaries to draw up a good work plan to enable them to access the facility.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

AVOID UNDUE FRUSTRATIONS ...Minister tells Lands Commission staff (PAGE 20)

THE Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Alhaji Collins Dauda, has called on the staff of the Lands Commission to adhere strictly to their work ethics to avoid creating unnecessary frustrations and bottlenecks in the acquisition and development of land.
He warned that the government would not tolerate any negative practices that posed a threat to effective land management and administration in the country.
Alhaji Dauda made the call during the inauguration of a 24-member reconstituted Northern Regional Lands Commission in Tamale.
The inauguration forms part of the key reforms in the land sector. The Commission is chaired by Mr. Simaila Alhassan with the Regional Lands Office with Mr. George Okwabi Frimpong as its secretary. The other members are made up of traditional rulers, surveyors, civil servants and lawyers, among others.
The minister stressed that “reforms in themselves do not necessarily bring change in the attitude of the staff but rather it is the people involved in the implementation process”.
“What the people of Ghana expect is a stress-free process for registering land and it is therefore expected that the commission will reduce the bureaucracy, inefficiencies and frustrations of the public” he pointed out.
Alhaji Dauda equally observed that the granting of large stretches of land for commercial agriculture and the feedstock for biofuel production were some of the challenges facing land management in the region.
He charged the regional lands commission to help provide the necessary framework and modalities for granting the lands and to ensure that the rights of the vulnerable were protected.
According to him, it was imperative for the commission to educate land owners to register their lands.
That way, he said, the commission could help improve on security of tenure which would in turn attract investors into the region.
The Northern Regional Minister, Mr. Stephen Nayina, in a speech read on his behalf by his Deputy, Mr. Moses Magbengba, entreated the members to “constantly take advice from the technical men within the various divisions of the commission to ensure effective and efficient land administration process in the region.
“Article 258 and 260 of the constitution have put an enormous responsibility on your shoulders as managers of the second most important resource,” Mr. Nayina pointed out.
He further told the members to, as a matter of urgency, help resolve such issues as multiple claims, undetermined boundaries and boundary disputes.
Mr Alhassan, in his acceptance speech, pledged on behalf of his colleagues to “ensure equitable access to land for the benefit of our people and the nation as a whole”.
“I assure you that the Northern Regional Lands Commission would adopt a participatory approach and endeavour to be proactive and contribute its quota to the attainment of success for the mission and vision of the new Lands Commission,” he added.
In a related development, Mr Ford Kamel, Deputy Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, has inaugurated the Central Regional Lands Commission.
The 23-member commission has Rev. Mrs Helena Swanzy Essel as its Chairperson. They were sworn in by Mr Justice Justine Dorgu, a Cape Coast High Court Judge.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


THE mental health situation in the Northern Region is said to have taken a nosedive due to a number of factors.
Some of the factors include inadequate psychiatry personnel, psychiatric health posts, stigmatisation of both patients and psychiatric personnel in the region as well as a lack of funds and medical equipment.
There are only six community psychiatry nurses in the region, with more than a half of them almost at the retiring age. The region also lacks a specialist in the field of psychiatry.
Furthermore, most of the district hospitals in the region do not have psychiatric units except Tamale, Yendi and Walewale hospitals.
It is significant to note that these are the major factors that militate against the region’s quest to support the increasing number of the population that are suffering from neuro-psychiatric conditions and severe mental illnesses.
Undoubtedly, there is a correlation between a healthy population and increased productivity. Most of the mental-ill persons who have been rehabilitated and integrated into the society have in one way or the other contributed their quota to the accelerated development of the region. That is imperative for stakeholders in the mental health sector to evolve effective strategies to address mental health problems in the region.
In March, last year, for instance, Basic Needs, a non-governmental organisation (NGO), provided GH¢36,234 to train 10 stabilised mental-ill persons in Tamale to acquire skills in hairdressing, weaving, dressmaking, blacksmithing, bicycle repairs, block moulding and carpentry. There are indications that the 10 stabilised mental-ill persons are doing well as they are currently fending for themselves.
A total of 4,200 stabilised persons with primary care givers have been targeted by Basic Needs and its partners to ensure that they live a normal life in the years ahead.
Heartwarmingly, the European Union has provided a total amount of 750,000 Euros to undertake a project dubbed: “Ensuring secure livelihoods for poor people with mental illness, epilepsy and primary carers”.
Although Basic Needs has over the years done a lot to ensure that mental-ill persons acquired skills to make them self-sufficient, a lot more needs to be done to address the numerous problems facing those people.
As a strategy to help solve mental health challenges in the region, Basic Needs recently organised a forum in Tamale aimed at building a network of organisations that would support mental health work in the area.
The participants were drawn from the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE), civil society groups and NGOs working to improve the lot of the vulnerable and the marginalised in society.
According to the Country Programme Manager of Basic Needs, Mr Peter Yaro, the prevalence rate of mental cases in the region was high.
He stated that there were 18,208 severe cases of mental illness in the region, while 182,080 people suffered from neuro-psychiatric conditions at any given time.
He said 455,201 suffer from neuro-psychiatric conditions in their lifetime in the region, which has a population of 1,820,806, according to the 2000 Population and Housing Census.
The entire country itself has a big challenge as figures by Basic Needs showed that there are less than three active psychiatrists in the country with only three psychiatric hospitals.
About 234,000 people in the entire country are suffering from severe mental illness, while more than two million people suffer from neuro-psychiatric conditions at any given time.
In the wake of all these challenges, some NGOs and representatives of civil society groups in the region have suggested to health authorities to make the psychiatric sector more attractive to ensure that more personnel venture into that area.
The organisations have also entreated the Ghana Health Service to strengthen some community health structures in the districts to take good care of mental-ill persons.
It is refreshing to note that over the years Basic Needs has made significant strides in solving problems related to mental illness and epilepsy in the country.
According to Mr Yaro, 16,024 people are receiving psychiatric treatment, while 12,257 are engaged in productive work and 3,603 are earning regular income nationwide.
The Community Projects Co-ordinator of Basic Needs, Mr Yahaya Adam Dokurugu, stated that his outfit was building alliances of civil society organisations, including individuals and professionals to partner with self-help groups of mental-ill people in rights advocacy and reducing poverty among them.
He expressed the hope that Basic Needs would support the improvement of psychiatric units in health facilities in the districts and regions.


THE Northern Regional Minister, Mr Stephen Nayina, has called on management of the Ghana Developing Communities Association (GDCA) to expand its School for Life (SfL) programme to ensure that more children in the rural communities are sent to school.
He stated that approximately, 800,000 children in the region were still not in school hence, the inability of the area to achieve targets in the Millennium Development Goal.
Mr Nayina made the call at the 25th annual general meeting (AGM) of the GDCA at Dalun in the Tolon-Kumbungu District.
The meeting was aimed, among other objectives, at deliberating on issues affecting the operations of the GDCA as well as promoting accountability in its work.
The minister encouraged the organisation to help “rope in more children in the SfL programme to enable them to read and write”.
He commended the GDCA for its efforts at developing the skills of more than 1,000 youths in the region as well as empowering women by providing them with micro-credit schemes to venture into income-generating activities.
The Chairman of the GDCA, Professor Abu-Bakr Al-Hassan, announced that a total of 25,000 children were now able to read and write as a result of the SfL intervention.
He further stated that 11,000 individuals, including women, had benefited from the various micro-credit programmes of the GDCA.
Prof. Al-Hassan said his outfit had spent GH¢170,000 under the Rights and Voice Initiative (RAVI) project to equip Community Based Organisations (CBOs) and non-governmental organisations to monitor the implementation of the Capitation Grant, the National Health Insurance Scheme on improving widowhood rites and communities’ participation in local governance.
The chairman mentioned rising inflation, the scaling down of its interventions, particularly the SfL programme and the poor nature of roads as the major challenges affecting the smooth implementation of interventions by the GDCA.

Friday, August 7, 2009


WORK on the Ashanti Regional Hospital is set to begin at Tepa, the Ahafo-Ano North District capital.
Contractors for the project have visited the site earmarked for the modern facility and are mobilising equipment to start the project.
According to the District Chief Executive (DCE) for Ahafo-Ano North, Mr David Addai Amankwah, “work would begin soon.”
The Ashanti Region has no regional hospital so the new hospital when completed, would go a long way to help improve health delivery in the region.
President Mills, in his State of the Nation address to Parliament in January, this year, announced the government’s decision to construct the regional hospital at Tepa.
The Tepahene, Nana Adusei Atwenewa Ampem, has allocated a large tract of land for the project as part of his commitment to seeing to the successful execution of the project.
Mr Amankwah, who was speaking at the first ordinary meeting of the assembly at Tepa, appealed to stakeholders of the project to play their part by ensuring that the project became a reality.
He said the establishment of a health assistants’ training school at Anyinasuso, had also boosted the district’s image but indicated that efforts needed to be made to find residential accommodation for the staff.
The DCE disclosed that the district assembly owed contractors GH¢1.4 million from contracts awarded between 2007 and 2008 adding that internal debt on other commitments also amounted to GH¢ 40,808.
Mr Amankwah said the debt was likely to impact on the assembly’s development agenda as it would have to look for money to pay for part of the debt.
He said what had aggravated the situation was that the assembly’s internal revenue generation had not been good and as a result, it had to rely mostly on the central government for funds to execute development projects.
Mr Amankwah stated that the assembly had started serious work on the internally generated revenue, adding that there was hope that some gains would be made as the years rolled on.
The DCE expressed concern about the activities of chainsaw operators, which were compounding the problem of deforestation.
He called for concerted efforts to address the problem before it reaches uncontrolled proportions.


THE President of the National Forest Forum (NFF), Naa Bob Logga, has attributed the annual flooding of some parts of the country, particularly during the rainy season, to the indiscriminate felling of trees and illegal chain saw lumbering which have seriously depleted the forest cover.
He also identified the activities of some Fulani herdsmen as being responsible for the alarming rate at which forest resources were being depleted.
He explained that “Fulanis are the ones who know where all the big trees are and lead the chain saw operators to cut down those trees, resulting in the alarming rate of deforestation in the country”.
Naa Logga stated this at a sensitisation workshop in Tamale on “understanding the implementation of the international Forest Instrument in Ghana”.
It was aimed at identifying where Ghana stood regarding national policy measures agreed in the instrument by assessing the strengths, weaknesses and gaps in policy implementation.
The workshop was attended by stakeholders in the management of forest resources from the three northern regions.
It was organised jointly by the Forestry Commission, the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), the Growing Forest Partnerships (GFP) Initiative and the Forest Fora of Ashanti, Central, Western and Brong Ahafo regions.
Naa Logga said: “Chainsaw problems that used to be in the south have extended to the north and our big trees are all being cut for timber”.
He stressed that “it is time for us to stop the Fulanis from conniving with chainsaw operators, to check the rapid depletion of our forest cover”.
The National Project Co-ordinator, Rev. David Guba Kpelle, said the Forest Instrument would help empower stakeholders in the forestry sector to address the numerous challenges confronting the country’s forest sector.
He further expressed optimism that the workshop would help formulate effective strategies and priority actions that would sanitise the forest sector.


THE Chief of Tamale, Dakpema Naa Mohammed Alhassan Dawuni, in collaboration with the Motor Traffic and Transport Unit (MTTU) of the Ghana Police Service is spearheading a crusade to promote discipline among motorists and other road users in the metropolis.
The measure is the first of its kind to be initiated by a traditional ruler in the area and it is envisaged that the bold step by the chief would ultimately help reduce the alarming rate of carnage on the streets of Tamale particularly among motor riders.
The issue of interference in the operations of personnel of the MTTU by some politicians and opinion leaders who plead for the release of residents that flout the road traffic regulations in the metropolis will also be addressed under this new arrangement.
At a joint press conference at his palace in Tamale to announce this initiative, the Dakpema said “henceforth opinion leaders and politicians should avoid interfering in the work of the police because we want to instil discipline among the road users”.
Commercial drivers and executive members of the Ghana Private Road Transport Union (GPRTU) attended the conference.
The chief also advised commercial drivers and executive members of the GPRTU to ensure that vehicles plying the roads were regularly maintained to reduce accidents.
Statistics available at the office of the regional police MTTU indicated, for instance, that between January and May this year, 65 persons died in a total of 42 accidents involving 66 motorbikes and vehicles.
Additionally, 70 persons sustained various degrees of injury within the same period.
The figures further revealed that most of the accidents and deaths involved motorbikes as most riders failed to use crash helmets.
It has also been observed that although the metropolis boasts one of the best roads in the country with well laid-out pedestrian and bicycle lanes, some road users particularly motor riders use bicycle lanes instead of the roads thereby causing accidents.
The issue of non-observance of road signs, and lack of driving licences due partly to ignorance among some drivers has also been identified.
During a recent meeting with police officers in Tamale by the Northern Regional Minister, Mr Stephen Nayina, the issue of indiscipline on the roads resulting in deaths was discussed extensively.
The police at the meeting blamed politicians for interfering in their operations thereby making it difficult for them to curb indiscipline on the streets of Tamale.
Worthy of note was that the minister gave a pledge to support the efforts of the police in order to reduce accidents to the barest minimum.
The Regional Commander of the MTTU, Deputy Superintendent of Police Nana Kumi, observed that in spite of the numerous campaigns including radio discussions on road safety and the enforcement of road traffic regulations, the accident cases recorded this year was a wake-up call to his outfit that more needed to be done to reduce the casualties.
He, therefore, pledged that the police were prepared to support the efforts of the Dakpema to reduce accidents in the metropolis.
“I want to tell drivers that our action should not be misconstrued as witch-hunting and so I would like to plead with you to co-operate with us,” he stressed.
According to Nana Kumi, more than 70 per cent of accident cases recorded in the region occurred in the metropolis.
“Most of the drivers do not have licences, neither do they know the road signs; however the regional MTTU is prepared to educate drivers on the road signs and road traffic regulations, ” he stated.
Nana Kumi further explained that his outfit would intensify its education to avoid such offences as wrongful parking and careless and reckless driving.
The Vice-Chairman of the Taxi/Trotro branch number one, Mr Mahamadu Buadu, and the secretary of the branch, gave pledges on behalf of their members to comply with road traffic regulations.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

ENSURE PROBITY AND ACCOUNTABILITY ...Public sector institutions told (PAGE 38)

THE acting Auditor-General, Mr Richard Quartey, has called on management of public sector institutions and departments to ensure probity, accountability and prudent financial management in all their operations.
He equally told management to improve on accounting systems, institute timely action on audit findings and to comply with contract awarding procedures including financial laws and regulations to ensure that fraud and errors were eliminated from their respective institutions.
Mr Quartey made the call during the opening of a two-day training workshop in Tamale on the Public Procurement Act, 663 of 2003 for 100 staff members of the Audit Service in the three northern regions.
It was aimed among other objectives, at updating the knowledge and skills of the participants to be able to conduct effective and efficient procurement audits.
The workshop was jointly organised by the Audit Service, the Public Procurement Authority (PPA) and the German Development Co-operation (GTZ).
The acting Auditor-General indicated that management of the Audit Service was instituting changes that were intended to modernise the institution and make it more capable of fulfilling its role as a watchdog over public funds and property.
He pointed out that Article 187(7b) of the 1992 Constitution empowered the Auditor-General to, “disallow any items of expenditure which is contrary to law and to surcharge defaulters with the cost involved”.
He announced that by the close of August, 2009, the service would complete the establishment of its own website with support from the World Bank.
“Auditing is a function that serves to promote accountability and is a very cost-effective means of promoting transparency in operations of public sector organisations and institutions,” Mr Quartey said.
According to him, management of public offices must supplement and facilitate the efforts of the Auditor-General by ensuring that fraud and errors were eliminated from their respective institutions through strengthened internal control systems.
The Assistant Auditor-General in charge of training, Mr Ernest Buadoo, observed that the Public Procurement Act 663 of 2003 section (3j) required that the public procurement authority board facilitates training of government monitoring organisations.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009


THE Northern Regional Director of the Department of Women, Mr Issahaku Zakari-Saa has entreated opinion leaders and traditional rulers not to interfere and frustrate the course of justice regarding cases of domestic violence.
He noted that it was imperative for perpetrators of domestic violence to be prosecuted to serve as a deterrent to others thereby helping to reduce the menace to its barest minimum.
Mr Zakari-Saa made the call at a community forum on the Domestic Violence Act 2007, (Act 732) organised by the Department of Women of the Ministry of Women and Children’s Affairs at Nyankpala in the Tolon-Kumbungu District.
It was aimed among other objectives, at engaging the minds of the community members about their role of stopping and reporting acts of domestic violence.
A drama to educate the community on the dangers of domestic violence and its consequences was performed by the Suhiyini Drama Group.
The director observed that “though a lot of awareness has been created, some groups, individuals and sometimes perpetrators and their families persecute or harass victims, and officials of the department of Women and Domestic Violence and Victims Support Unit (DOVVSU)”.
According to Mr Zakari-Saa, domestic violence was a canker in the society stressing that “It is therefore our collective responsibility to ensure that we create a violence free environment for ourselves and generations yet to come”.
He appealed to traditional authorities and opinion leaders to support law enforcement agencies to bring to book perpetrators of the act to help rid the society of “these shameful and callous acts”.
The director however explained that the Domestic Violence Act provided an enabling environment and the necessary mandate for a more co-ordinated response to the Act in the country.
“The Act has provided the framework for such response which is operationalised through the National Policy Plan of Action which guides the implementation of the Act by all stakeholders” Mr Zakari-Saa noted.
He intimated that in line with the National Policy and Plan of Action, the Ministry of Women and Children’s Affairs was embarking on a series of awareness creation, sensitisation and advocacy programmes on the Act.
The Regional Director of the Department of Social Welfare, Mr Jacob Achulo entreated community members to help find an acceptable way of resolving conflicts at the family level instead of resorting to violence at the least provocation.
“Let us learn to maintain our families and send our children to school; it is when we are not able to manage conflicts that we have chaos in our respective communities” Mr Achulo pointed out.

Monday, August 3, 2009


Personnel of the Northern Regional Police Command at the weekend arrested 39 suspected criminals in a dawn swoop on their respective hideouts.
During the exercise, the police found seven polythene bags containing dried leaves suspected to be Indian hemp, pairs of scissors, a number of motorbikes and bicycles and GH¢85.
Briefing the media on the operation in Tamale, the Deputy Northern Regional Police Commander, Chief Superintendent Lord Obeng-Mensah, said the suspected criminals were arrested at their hideouts at the Aboabo Forest area, the Gumani Forest and the Tishegu toilet area, all in the Tamale metropolis, and around the Savelugu Market in the Savelugu-Nanton District.
He explained that the operation was part of the routine exercise by the Regional Police Command to check crime in the metropolis and in the region at large.
Chief Supt Obeng-Mensah intimated that the exercise had been intensified because of several reports received by the police concerning the increasing spate of crime, particularly around the hideouts of the suspects.
He further disclosed that some residents had, on several occasions, reported to the police that their valuable items had allegedly been seized by some criminals around their hideouts, while others complained of various forms of harassment at the hands of the alleged criminals.