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UN calls For Special Attention For Northern Ghana

2008-03-10 21:36:59
This article has been read 1454 times.

The United Nations Human Development Report (HDR) 2007 has indicated that the three northern regions in Ghana cannot be compared to the southern sector, in terms of development.

According to the report, the situation required intensive social and financial investment, beyond the current economic levels.

The report stressed the need for strong political and socio-cultural will, as well as funding arrangements, to intensify the effort at making the north an integral part of the country.

“A detailed development strategy, with the active input of the potential beneficiaries, and other experts, is needed to hasten the development of the north, and to make the northern parts a functioning integral part of Ghana,” it said.

The report, which was compiled by the country (Ghana) office of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and launched earlier this month, focused on Social Exclusion (SE) as a counter-productive element in the human development effort, and the need for holistic measures to be put in place, to ensure social inclusiveness as a way of achieving satisfactory human development in Ghana.

It generally addressed the six main areas of the framework for social exclusion, as being status of human development and social exclusion, social structure, systems and practices, as well as the globalisation, economic, socio-cultural, spatial, political and legal dimensions of social exclusions, and how to promote an inclusive society.

The report stated that Ghana’s attainment of a middle income level by 2015, largely depended on how effectively the issue of social inclusion characterised, by the extent of public participation in politics and decision-making, socio-economic and cultural activities, and to what extent citizens had access to healthcare, education, legal justice, recreational facilities, and other available human development symbols.

Core unemployment rate, misery index and a composite index, derived from poverty data, were used as proxies to determine the levels of social exclusion for that year.

The report said overall social exclusion index (SEI), for Ghana in the year 2005/2006, stood at 0.176 per cent.

“This means that for every 100 persons, at least two, were socially excluded from access to education, healthcare, income-generating activities, from legal justice, recreation, politics and decision making opportunities and other basic human development factors,” said the report

Even though the 2005/2006 social exclusion index was a significant decline, from the 0.316 in 1991/92, it was stated in the report that “we could push for a more inclusive society.”

The report pointed to regional disparities, indicating that the worst cases of social exclusion were recorded in the Upper West, Upper East and Northern regions of the country.

Apart from the Greater Accra and Upper West regions, where social exclusion figures actually shot up in that year, there had been reductions in the incidence in all the other regions.

It indicated that as a result of the social exclusion of the three northern regions, poverty level stood at 28.7 per cent, which was lower than the 39.5 recorded in 1998.

In spite of that those three regions still remained worse off in 2006.

The report said cotton farmers, from the three northern regions, were for instance excluded from access to inputs, extension services and credit, which reduced their incomes, adding that the ancillary economic activities, such as local weaving, which depended on cotton, were also affected.

In terms of spatial social exclusion, the report noted that the physical and climatic conditions in the north, and also in the Eastern and Western regions, excluded people from those regions from accessing health and education facilities available in the region, adding that small scale farmers in those regions, and particularly in the north, also lacked access to land for farming.

The Human Development Report thus called for the strengthening of institutions of governance, within the context of the decentralisation framework, to ensure a more friendly land administration and tenure system that would facilitate land access and promote sustainable livelihood.

According to the report, the indicators of social exclusion differed from that of poverty, saying that whereas all socially excluded persons ended up in poverty, only 62 per cent of poor people were socially excluded in that year.

The report mentioned women, children, the aged, prisoners and Persons with Disabilities (PWDs), as the most socially excluded, even though on the aggregate they constituted the greater part of the population.

It, therefore, stressed the need for decision-makers to recognise that the attainment of broader goals of human development could be achieved without special attention being given to those critical segments of the population.

According to the report, in 2006 Ghana had a Gender-related Development Index (GDI) of 0.596, indicating that females were more excluded than males, and that for every 100 males, about 60 females had a level of development, comparable to their male counterparts.

The report also stated that Ghana had a Gender Empowerment Measure (GEM) of 0.374, indicating that for every 100 males, only about 37 females have the same levels of empowerment in the three basic dimensions of empowerment, namely; economic and political participation, decision-making, and power over economic resources.

“Young people in the informal sector and small scale business sector, also suffered marginal exclusion, due to unemployment and underemployment, as well as lack of access to credit, which rendered persons in those two groups, largely unable to participate effectively in income-generating activities,” the report said.

It noted that social exclusion was a multi-sectoral challenge, which required decision-makers to adopt a holistic approach at a go to address it, saying that it was not simply the consequence of singular causal factors.

“Social exclusion is a complex and interactive, cumulative, and persistent phenomenon that cannot be addressed through programmes that only attack one contributing factor at a time,” the report stated.

To reduce social exclusion, the report also stressed the need for a holistic and intentional coordinated strategy that deals with all of these, and probably more contributing causal factors at the same time.

In that regard, the Coordinator of the National Human Development Report, Mr. Emmanuel Otoo, noted that it was imperative that both national stakeholders, and all development partners, find it necessary to promote and enhance inclusiveness, and accelerate equitable development in their programmes, while continuing with efforts to create more wealth for the nation as a whole.

He said human development was about creating an environment in which people could develop their full potential, and lead productive and creative lives, in accordance with their needs and interests.

“People are the real wealth of nations. Development is thus about expanding the choices people have to lead lives that they value, and it is thus about much more than economic growth, which is only a means of enlarging people’s choices,” he said

Mr. Otoo said the relevance of inclusion had been acknowledged as a core issue in sustainable poverty reduction, and progressive human development.

source: Ghanaian Chronicle

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