Vice President Dr Mahamudu Bawumia has cut the sod for construction works on all the 582 projects under the Gulf of Guinea Northern Regions Social Cohesion (SOCO) at a ceremony at the palace of the Overlord of Dagbon, Ya Na Abukari Mahama II.
The SOCO projects, being executed in 48 beneficiary Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) in six regions, predominantly in the northern part of Ghana, is an important and timely intervention aimed at addressing some key emerging and recurring challenges in the northern part of Ghana, according to experts.
The beneficiary districts under the $150 million World Bank Credit Facility project, include Northern, eight Districts; North East, six Districts; Upper East, all 15 Districts; Upper West, all 11 Districts; Savannah, four Districts and Oti, four Districts.
The SOCO project, according to officials of the Ministry of Local Government, Decentralisation and Rural Development, has been conceived and designed to address the effects of the spillover of conflicts and extremism from the Sahel Region; reduce exposure to the impacts of climate change; strengthen local institutions; improve economic opportunities and build public trust.
Speaking at the sod-cutting ceremony on Wednesday, Vice President Bawumia said the government was mindful of the growing human and security threats in the Sahel Region arising from climate change and conflicts and was taking steps to ensure it does not spread into the country.
“In this regard, the SOCO project focuses mostly on border communities in these Regions where the citizenry, especially women and youth are exposed and susceptible to the threats of terrorism from the Sahel Region. Thus, the Project focuses on dealing with issues relating to Fragility, Conflicts and Violence (FCV).”
Another issue, the Vice President hinted, was the impact of climate change which poses a multiplier threat and compounds fragilities and conflict dynamics, particularly relating to access to natural resources.
In Ghana, the livelihood of many in the northern part is invariably impacted by climatic conditions, as a greater proportion of the population is dependent on rain-fed agriculture, making it difficult for people to adapt and build resilience to changing conditions over time.
This year (2023), the project is expected to deliver socio-economic community-level climate-resilient infrastructure, skills development and training of the youth and women including the vulnerable.
The projects include the provision of water, school buildings, health facilities, Markets, earth dams and other critical physical infrastructure.
It has currently created jobs for 434 Community Facilitators (CFs) and other Specialists and would also improve access to basic social and economic services, promote local economic development and gender equality and improve environmental management when the projects are executed efficiently and effectively.
The beneficiary regions and districts have been carefully selected based on Vulnerability Index Criteria – exposure to security risk, climate vulnerability, poverty incidence and unemployment rate, according to officials of the Local Government Ministry.
Dr Bawumia urged all implementing agencies, at both national and sub-national levels to remain committed to the implementation of this project to achieve the desired goals.
He cautioned all implementing agencies at the national and sub-national levels that implementation delays would not be tolerated.
“Indeed, we must ensure that the delivery of the project through the decentralised structures culminates in outcomes and impacts as contained in the Project Appraisal Document (PAD) and Project Implementation Manual (PIM).”
The Minister for Local Government, Decentralisation and Rural Development, Mr Daniel Botwe, assured the Ya Na and other traditional leaders as well as beneficiary communities of his Ministry’s desire to work closely with them to ensure smooth implementation.
“Your Majesty, the contractors and agencies have been specifically tasked to give you and all other stakeholders regular briefings on the progress of work and to keep you properly informed of any developments.”
The MP for Yendi, Mr Farouk Aliu Mahama, thanked the government for the SOCO project which, he emphasised, would bring “real development to the doorstep of the people, unlike in the past where we heard about developments in our communities but never saw them.”
Rex Mainoo Yeboah, ISD