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Friday, October 25, 2013

Northern Ghana, Challenges and Potential - The RAINS IS Contribution


A society characterised by very accommodating, kind, lovely and religious people are those who occupy the northern part of Ghana. Its people contribution to development of Ghana dates back to antiquity.


The north as a term is often used to refer to the three administrative regions of upper east, upper west and northern regions with their capitals as Bolgatanga, Wa and Tamale respectively. These regions contribution to national development spans from human resource, the abundance of rich fertile land for agriculture as well as being home to some of Ghana’s finest tourist attractions and destinations such as: the Mole Nation park, the Larabanga mosque and stone, the Wa Naa palace, the Paga crocodile pond, Tongo Hills etc.

Larabanga Mosque

Despite its human and natural resource endowments, ‘the North’ is miles behind the South in terms of both physical and human resource development. This development gap traces its roots to the colonial era, where the South was the first place of settlement of the early Europeans and the perceptions held that the North was a resource deficient zone, led to the concentration of all developmental activities in the South. This developmental gap can further be well appreciated by taking a look at the statistics available for the distribution of the nation’s schools, hospitals, industries, roads etc.

On the part of education, the nation’s premiere learning centres were established in the castles, called castle schools and later colonial schools providing tuition to children of the Europeans and subsequently opened to children of kings and the wealthy in the south. In 1876, the nation’s public first senior high school, Mfansipim secondary school was opened in Cape Coast; the north only had its first ever public educational centre in 1909 when the Tamale boy’s Brigade was transformed into a secondary school, over 30 years after the South’s.

The nation’s first universities are all to be found in the South, the University of Ghana, University of Cape Coast and the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology were established in 1948, 1952 and 1962 respectively. The north waited about thirty years to have its maiden university when in 1992; the University for Development Studies was set up to further the human resource development of the area. It is in evidence that, as at the time the north was beginning to have schools established, the south had had several graduates. This implies that, in terms of human resource development and knowledge acquisition, the North is miles behind the South.

This disparity is not only in education but also in the provision of other social amenities such as pipe borne water, hospitals etc. the best and well-resourced hospitals are to be found in the South. This developmental gap between the North and South has created a northern zone where poverty in its extreme cases can be seen and felt. School drop-out rates are high, maternal and infant mortality sky rocketing, agriculture at only subsistence level, very deplorable road networks, limited access to health facilities and many others.

According to the UN, to live a life free from poverty and hunger is one of the human rights and fundamental freedoms enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Article 25 (1) of the Declaration states that everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services. This is further enshrined in the MDG 1, which calls for efforts at eradicating extreme hunger and poverty.

Thus, as a bold step at fighting poverty in the world over, various organisations and individuals have taken it upon themselves to aid in achieving this goal via various points of focus, these includes, health, education, skills training, micro financing, agriculture etc.  

The Ghana Living standards survey (GLSS3, 4&5) have further affirmed the much talked about poverty in the three (3) regions of the north, in the GLSS 3 for instance, 70 per cent of the population in the northern region is poor, close to 90 per cent for the Upper East region and 84 per cent for the Upper West region. Among other factors considered for this survey included; (a) access to health care (b) access to portable drinking water (c) access to education (d) source of employment etc.

It is often stated that, the most convenient and sustainable ways to escape the poverty trap is through education, skills enhancement activity programmes and projects aimed at improving people’s livelihoods. This has being the focus of government, and the countless NGO’s that have made their presence felt over the years including RAINS.

It is based on this that I find the project of the RAINS-IS on school uniform and educational kits recycling very laudable. This project will aid in resourcing children in the poor and deprived communities of the Savelugu Nantong district to pursue education and not drop out of school or have their results adversely affected due to a lack of uniforms, sandals and other learning aids.

By Justice