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Opinions of Wednesday, 30 January 2008

Columnist: Bulmuo, Miabahu Bawa

District In Focus: Ahafo Ano North District

It is an undeniable fact that the local government concept since it was introduced into this country has greatly benefited the nations as people at the grass root level have had the opportunity to take part in governance.
The ruling N P P since taking over the administration of the country has shown enough commitment to deepening grass root participation in the administration of the country. This is not surprising since President Kufour was a secretary of local government in the P N D C regime until he left. The political tradition he belongs to are interested in rural development.
Since 2001 a sizable number of districts have been created to ensure greater decentralization and undoubtedly this has brought in its wake development to areas previously considered no go zones.
It is refreshing to know that District Chief Executives (DCEs) under this regime are themselves disciples of local government and therefore are doing everything within their capacity to entrench the decentralization programme of the Kufour administration.
One district which is becoming the toast of local government expert is theAhafo Ano north district in the Ashant region headed by the youthful and exuberant Hon. Eric Nana Agyemang Prempeh who has been at the helm of affairs since 2005
It has become difficult for many to believe that Hon. Agyemang Prempeh could achieve greatly within a period of two (2) years
He was appointed DCE at a time the Ahafo Ano north was facing a myriad of problems ranging from youth unemployment, difficulty in accessing potable water, poor sanitation facilities, deplorable educational and health infrastructure and many others. In a write-up outlining some of the progress made so far the DCE said ?after a cursory analysis of the afore mentioned and in order to address the identified challenges the DCE launched an intergraded development approach with the active involvement of stakeholders through fruitful dialogue and interactions?
This marked a turning point in the life of the district as an aggressive approach to development was adopted and with the benefit of hindsight Hon. Agyemang Prempeh thinks that the assembly?s decisions have not been in vain.
Seven priority areas were identified to receive maximum attention. The areas were national youth employment programme, education, health, agricultur, water and sanitation, roads and markets.
It is the belief of the DCE that when these areas are well tackled the lives of the people will improve tremendously. According to him the developmental objectives of the assembly are in consonance with the national development agenda.
Under the national youth employment program about 331 people out of 600 unemployed youth have been provided with gainful employment under a mecum term development plan.
The employed youth are engaged in health extension training, teaching assistants under the rural education programme, youth in agriculture, and waste and sanitation.
Hon.Agyemang Prempeh is optimistic that the remaining 269 unemployed would soon be hooked up to some form of employment under the programme to put cash into the pockets of the exuberant young men.
Ghana has since January 1993 displayed commitment to the democratic culture and it has indeed proved to be the best form of government any country on earth can wish for
However, for democracy to be fully appreciated and practical there is the need for educated masses. Educated masse can also bring socio-economic development to any society.
It is for these reasons that the Ahafo Ano north district is leaving no stone unturned in their efforts t build a viable educational structure with the believe that it is a sound investment for the future.
Hon. Agyemang Prempeh noted that his district ?recognizes that education holds the key to unlocking the full potential of human resources; therefore a huge budgetary allocation had been made over the years for the provision of new school structures and to rehabilitate deterioted ones?
Over the last two year the assembly has dispensed over Gh cedis 40,000 in the construction of new school building in every nook and cranny of the district.
With the introduction f the FCUB programme,the DCE and may of the opinion leaders in Tepa the district capital believe that now is the time to get every kid irrespective of gender into the classroom since he future of the district would depend on a well educated human resource.
Areas where schools could not be found in the past can now boast of modern classroom blocks with offices and stores, this is serving as motivation for parents to want to send their wards to proper schools instead of learning under trees.
Of what benefit would it be to have a vibrant educational system when the health system is in bad state?
Under the administration of Hon. Agyemang Prempeh it was decided that the assembly would also put much emphasis in healthcare. ?How productive a nation is, is measured basically in terms of the status of its workforce? says the DCE
With this mind the district assembly has sponsored several trainees in various health institutions to equip themselves with the necessary professional training to handle the healthcare institutions of the district
The assembly has over the years also sponsored nurses and midwives to beef up the staff capacity of the district. Under the national youth employment programme 75 ward assistants have been trained and posted to communities of the district to make healthcare accessible to the rural dwellers.
Over Gh cedis85, 000 has also been spent over the past two years over the construction and renovation of various health facilities.
One other important area the assembly has made progress in, is the agriculture sector where various interventions and support programmes have been made to ensure its growth.
?The assembly for the past two years has continued with micro-credit schemes collaborating with the disbursing banking institutions by grating loans to our farmers not only to expand but also adapt to modern and better farming practices? says Hon, Agyemang Prempeh.
According to him the district is aware of the importance of farmers to the economic development of the area and the nation at large and in this regard every possible means would be adopted to make it easier for farmers to farm and produce better yields.
A comprehensive plan is being developed to ensure that farmers produce are not left to waste either before or after harvest .Farmers under this plan will also enjoy the fruits of their labour.
The youth who are the future of the industry are being encouraged under various schemes notably the national youth employment programme to embrace agriculture as a profession since the sector provides employment and income. So far over 250 youth of the district have been absorbed and given support under the programme.
The cocoa sector in th district has also been given significant attention to encourager farmers and serve as an attractive venture for the youth. The area has not been left out of the government?s mass cocoa spraying exercise and this according to the DCE has increased the yield of cocoa significantly,
Cocoa farmers are also being sensitized to stop the use of child labour in their farms. This has threatened the sale of the country?s cocoa in the U S A where pressure groups are pressing on company?s there to stop purchasing cocoa from countries where child labour is encouraged on farms.
Hon. Agyemang Prempeh noted that, ?the district assembly in collaboration with Care International with funding from CAGILL Rural Education Project (CREP) continues with the sensitization programme on the elimination of worst forms of child labour?.
In the area of water and sanitation the Ahafo Ano north district has greatly surpassed many districts in the country .In just two(2) years the area has witnessed the drilling of more boreholes and the construction of hand dug wells fitted with pumps under a community water and sanitation programme.
The distict can boast of 105 boreholes in64 communities and 114 had dug wells in 114 communities .A small town water project is also beg sourced by the DCE to provide ans of portabke water to the remaining few communities. Effective collaboration between the assembly and Zoomlion has also seen steady improvement in the sanitation of the twns and villages forming the district.
Tricycles are now readily available for the proper disposl of sold waste .Very happy with the situation, the DCE said?the waste disposal sites have also improved significantly and a fresh air of serenity breeds on the district
The Building Inspectorate unit of the assembly is also on the move to compel developers to include toilet facilities in their designs.
The assembly continues to support communities with cement,roofing sheets and nails to build community pit latrines.KVIP toiletsfacilities are also attached to school projects to creat places of conveniences for teachers and pupils.
According to Hon. Agyemang Prempeh,this s to encourage residents to stop doing their own thing in the bush which is very dangerous due to the presence of snakes.
To enhance economic activities and revenue generation the assembly has constructed market stalls at various communities.Over one hundred thousand Ghana cedis has been used for this project in the last two years.
Movement of people and goods such as farm produce is also high on the agenda of the assembly and in this regard roads are being constructed to make it easier for transportation.
Assembly has acquired its own grader for the regular maintenance of its roads and in the last years about 115.6 km of roads have been constructed linking the towns and communities.
Under the rural electrification project about 13 arears earmarked for electricity supply in the districts medium term development plan are in the process of being connected to the national grid.
Hon. Agyemang Prempeh hopes that small communities dotted along the lines would be connected which will ensure the growth of rural industries and service delivery to bring improvement in the lives of the people.
The Ahafo Ano north distrct located in the northwestern part of the Ashanti region is strategically located on an entry point serving a gateway to and from the Brong Ahafo region.
With a land mass of 576 km2 the district has a population of 85,936 living in over 415 settlement which forms 36 electoral areas and 75 unit committees.
The assembly is noted for its commitment to the promotion of effective local governance in Ghana and Africa as a whole. This was evident during the term of office of the former DCE Akwasi Oppong Fosu who was president of the National Association of Local Authorities of Ghana (NALAG)and Africa Union of Local Authorities (AULAG).
This legacy is what eventually inspired Hon. Agyemang Prempeh to persue decentralization beyounb the borders of his district.
The current DCE has shown the desire to move local government forward.Since he was appointed to the assembly in 2003 he rose through the ranks,first being elected as the presiding member for two(2) years from 2003 to 2005 before being appointed as the DCE.
Hon. Agyemang Premoeh has also held several positions on the national council of NALAG and attended numerous international conferences on local government.
He says decentralization is his passion and together with othe stakeholders would move the Ahafo Ano north district forward.