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General News of Thursday, 28 February 2002

Source: GNA

European Ambassador says assistance will be performance related

Ankasa (Western Region) -- The European Ambassador and Head of the European Delegation in Ghana, Mr Stefan Frowein has reminded companies, organisations and contractors working on European Union (EU) sponsored projects to respect laid down procedures to achieve good results and to meet deadlines.

He said only projects cleared by experts after evaluation on their completion would receive further grants and other forms of assistance for the next phase, in line with the Cotonou Accord.

The Cotonou Accord spells out the agreement on mobilisation, preparation, design and financing of projects between the 15 member countries of the EU and the 77 members of the Union of African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries.

Mr Frowein gave the caution when he led a team from the Wildlife Division of the Forestry Commission (FC) to inspect the first phase of Ankasa Rain Forest Reserve, near the border town of Elubo in the Western Region.

Located in the high forest zone in the Southwest corner of the country, the 509 kilometre-squared reserve; comprising the Ankasa Resource Centre and the Nini Suhein National Park, was started in March 1997 under the Protected Areas Development Programme (PADP) in the Western Region.

A 36-month Wildlife Division Project is aimed at developing management plans to enhance biodiversity conservation in the Nini Suhein National Park, Ankasa Resource Reserve and the Bia National Park at a cost of 4.6 million Euros and financed by the EU.

The project, which was being implemented by the Wildlife Division under a contract agreement with ULG Germany, was extended for another 18 months ending September 2001 to avoid a long pause between the current phase and the anticipated second phase.

Further extension was made for the first phase of the project to end by February 2002.

The rain forest is the only fully protected wet evergreen forest with a unique, undisturbed flora and it safeguards water supply and climatic conditions for agriculture in the area.

The forest and the park harbour many interesting mammals like the endangered West African chimpanzee, duikers, bongo and the forest elephant. The forest has also been classified as the most botanical-diverse rain forest with a unique, virtually undisturbed fauna.

The rain forest has four tourist camps, boardwalks, two sleeping shelters, kitchens, pit latrines, running water and gas lamps. It is also an exploration base for educational purposes, which runs four days conservation education course for school children of the communities around the reserve.

After touring the forest, the bamboo cathedral and seeing the interesting trees and some new ornamental plants unique to the Ankasa Forest, Mr Frowein held a meeting with Nana Paniaka IV, Senior Divisional Chief and elders of Nuba in the West Nzema Traditional Council, officials and staff at a meeting at Apatakese, which could be called a classroom of the exploration base.

Mr Frowein told the gathering that the environment was dear to the EU, and implored everyone to look at the environment "as a gift which has been borrowed from our children" and take good care of it to be paid back as a grand legacy for future generations.

He said after the end of the first phase of the project on February 28, 2002, there would be an evaluation and the EU would decide on what next to do with the project.

The EU Ambassador stressed that the continuation of the project would be based on the findings of the experts subject to the observance of laid down procedures, quick completion of projects with a conviction that the monies had been well used, and added " there is a will to do these in Ghana."

In response to an appeal by Nana Paniaka IV to extend the development of hospitals, roads, schools and other social infrastructure to the West Nzema area, Mr Frowein said the EU had been involved in more than 600 micro projects, some of which were boreholes and sanitation projects in 56 out of the 110 districts in the country to improve living condition in the communities. He, however, indicated that the locating of such projects would be based on a demonstration of good capacity to better manage such development investments.

The delegation later visited the site where six blocks of building to be used as staff residence; offices and workshop were being developed. The contractors for the project estimated at a cost of 1.5 billion cedis were Additish and Ben Philla construction companies. The projects were expected to be completed by the end of February, but have been delayed.

Ms Josephine Kpesese, one of the site engineers, attributed the delay to intermittent rainfall and a recent chieftaincy dispute that made some of the workers to abandon the site for some time.

Mr Frowein expressed satisfaction about the quality of work but complained about the delay and said that would expand the initial projected cost. He said; "we are sitting in trouble" and added that when there are such unexpected delays it puts pressure on EU's finances. Madam Gytha Nuno, the Forestry Commissioner, said the Commission would appeal to the Ministry of Finance to support the project for its successful completion.