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General News of Saturday, 22 September 2007

Source: GNA

Do more to alleviate suffering in north - Govt urged

Accra, Sept 22, GNA - The Northern Patriots in Research and Advocacy (NORPRA) has commended the government for declaring the northern part of the country as a disaster zone. In a statement in Accra, it however called on the government to do more for the people of the area to save them from their current predicament, which had been worsened by floods.

In the statement signed by Mr Ayorogo Bismark Adongo, President, NORPRA stated that even though the declaration was commendable it was only what it called "a mere fulfilment of Article 31section 9 of the constitution without its social and economic benefits felt by the people".

It said declaring the north, as a disaster zone without sufficient genuine and real transfer of resources from the Central Government to alleviate the suffering of the people was meaningless since it could not effectively and efficiently arrest the deteriorating situation.

According to NORPRA, considering the amount of resources in the coffers of the state, the government could have done better for the people than it was currently doing in view of the severity and intensity of the disaster.

It pointed out that the government should have supplied relief items in life-sustaining quantities but not the current "peanuts" where a community of over five hundred people were given a bag of rice or other cereal to share.

NORPRA described the situation as "a mockery at efforts made to address the situation" and urged the government to do more by providing relief items in life-sustaining quantities to the destitute and subsidise prices of building materials especially cement for the disaster victims.

The government should also empower experts in earth building technology to enable them to transfer technology for the construction of durable buildings that could compete the lifespan of cement block structures for sustainable development to the rural poor.

NORPRA called on the people in the area to put "eagle eyes" on the relief items to ensure that they reached the affected persons in sufficient quantities following reports of the alleged diversion of relief items by some individuals for their selfish interest. It commended the District Chief Executive (DCE) for Sandema, Mr Thomas Kofi Alonsi, for alerting the security agencies when the diversion of relief items by some officials of the National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO) was detected and called for steps to ensure their prosecution.