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British Voluntary Service Overseas Opens Sub-office in Bolgatanga


2006-11-16 20:10:38
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Bonface Gambila
Mr Boniface Gambila, Upper East Regional Minister, on Wednesday urged development organisations and civil society to continue to provide for the shortfall between government efforts and the people's expectations for the successful realization of the Millennium Development Goals.

This role, he noted, calls for a practical hands-on approach to development and a review of programmes to reflect the needs of countries struggling to reduce poverty.

Mr Gambila made the call in his address at the official launch of the Bolgatanga Office of the Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO), a British international volunteer organization.

He said government alone could not afford the required resources to meet the needs of every community nationwide at the same time. "No matter how hard government tries there is always a gap to be filled. It is this gap that the VSO and others have filled so effectively over the years," he added.

The Regional Minister noted that there was hardly any community in Ghana that had not been touched in one way or the other by the benefits of VSO personnel who had provided support in areas including education, secured livelihoods, gender mainstreaming and HIV/AIDS.

Mr Gambila commended VSO for opening an office in Bolgatanga to help develop communities in the Region and urged the volunteers to place emphasis on the transfer of skills in marketing, finance, resource management and small-scale enterprises to local groups to support the government's policy of reducing poverty through wealth creation.

Mr Amidu Ibrahim Tanko, Country Director of VSO, indicated that the opening of the Bolgatanga sub-office, a five-room apartment leased out by the Ghana News Agency, was part of the VSO's decentralization process and also a demonstration of the importance of Northern Ghana as far as VSO work was concerned. "Staff and resources would be transferred to the Bolgatanga Office to enable it to achieve the strategic objectives for which it has been established," he said.

He mentioned education, secured livelihoods, support for persons with disabilities and gender as the main thrust of VSO activity in Ghana and said since 1958, over 3,000 VSO volunteers had worked in various spheres of national endeavour, helping to address the root causes of poverty through the strengthening of local capacity.

The Country Director also cited the Business Partnership Scheme between Ghana and the United Kingdom (UK), capacity building of local volunteers through the National Volunteer Programme and the Youth Exchange Programme between Ghana and the UK as other areas of VSO engagement.

He intimated that discussions were far advanced between the Ministry of Health and VSO for the introduction of a National Health Volunteer Programme to improve health service delivery in the rural communities.

Mr Tanko announced that VSO working in collaboration with the Ghana Education Service (GES) and the National Volunteer Programme had recruited, trained and posted 6,000 volunteer teachers to schools across the country as part of measures to solve the problem of acute teacher shortage in basic schools.

He commended the government for its decision to take up the payment of allowances for all local volunteers under the National Volunteer Programme.

Solidarity messages were delivered by representatives of partner organizations including the GES, Link Community Development, National Service Secretariat, Action on Disability and Development (ADD), TRAX Support Programme and the Department of Community Development.

Naba Martin Abilba III, Paramount Chief of the Bolgatanga Traditional Area, chaired the function. He praised VSO for its pioneering role in the support of education, health and community development in Ghana and pledged his personal support and the co-operation of the people of the Upper East Region to ensure that the efforts of VSO achieve the intended objectives.

Source:GNA

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