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Ensuring the Success of the Northern Development Fund

2007-12-15 12:03:40
This article has been read 890 times.

In November 2007, the Government of Ghana announced a policy to engage stakeholders in the preparation of a Special Initiative for Sustainable Development in Northern Ghana, with a commitment of seed money of 25 million Ghana cedis for the establishment of a Northern Ghana Development Fund.

The establishment of the Fund has drawn mixed reactions from across the political divide. Whereas the Minority in Parliament say the 25 million Ghana cedis is inadequate and comes a bit too late when the North was lagging behind; those on the Majority side argue that the Fund is timely for the development of the northern economy.

The pros and cons aside, over 60 participants representing Government, civil society, private sector agencies and leading development partners recently discussed the framework for sustained development in Northern Ghana and affirmed that a long-term development strategy for Northern Ghana must be based on clearly agreed principles of: Ownership of the development process by political and civic leaders in Ghana, and especially those from Northern Ghana whose expertise is valuableBesides, there is need for a commitment to building an enduring peace in the three regions of Northern Ghana.

No doubt a sense of ownership and peace are key for the success of any development agenda and the Northern Development Fund should be no exception. To kick-start the Fund, there is need for a clearly-identified set of priorities for the rehabilitation of destroyed educational, social, and infrastructural facilities based on a real assessment of the gaps as recommended by the participants.

Modernizing agriculture in a manner that emphasizes the availability of water for year-round production, the transformation of perennial and annual crops in which Northern Ghana has comparative advantages should be one of the guideposts to the implementation of the Fund.

Giving priority, possibly a quota for interventions that support economic interventions of women, including capital to enable women to play an active role in the value-chain for selected agricultural and agro-processing commodities should not be overlooked.

Above all, the success of the Fund will largely depend on the people from the North. Government may have the good intentions, but if the people who are the end beneficiaries are not proactive in the implementation of the programme, they cannot blame anyone. No doubt, the management of the scheme could also play a significant part in its success.

In the view of this newspaper, the choice of the management team should be left to the various interest groups in the North including the MDAs, chiefs and youth associations with competence, commitment and ability to perform being the bench-mark. The North has a high plethora of very qualified people and it should not be difficult getting a good and committed team to manage the Fund.

This caution has become necessary because of the experience with the appointment of management teams to previous projects like the Gbuipe Limestone Project, the Regional development corporations, Irrigation Company of the Upper Region (ICOUR), the Farmers' Company (FASCOM) and similar projects. In these instances, people who thought they were qualified used their connections with politicians to get appointed either onto the management or board of these institutions and the result was that almost all these projects collapsed, though just like similar projects in other pats of the country.


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