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MiDA set to Transform Savelugu-Nanton District

2010-12-28 11:03:08
This article has been read 1349 times.

One district in the MCA Ghana Program that could be named as the anchor district, and benefiting most from the $547.009 million Compact between the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) of the USA and Ghana, is the Savelugu-Nantong District in the Northern Region. Local government authorities here and citizens alike are overwhelmed and very excited about the spate of development projects in the district as a result of the Compact.

The Millennium Development Authority (MiDA), the local implementing entity of the MCA Ghana Program, is set to totally transform the district. And perhaps the inadequacies which in the colonial times prevented Savelugu from being chosen as the capital of the northern territories will soon be removed. The local population have always been promised development projects in the past that never materialised; now they cannot believe the rapid pace of development projects unfolding before their eyes!

In an integrated style, the MCA Ghana Compact wants to achieve the MCC goal of reducing poverty through growth. MiDA aims to achieve this through training farmers in agricultural transformation, and with subsidiary programs to provide roads, schools, water and electricity for farmers in their communities. While not all the thirty or so districts in the Ghana program will have all these components implemented, the Savelugu-Nantong district is benefiting from all projects in the Compact.

Before Ghana’s independence from colonial rule the capital of the then Northern Territories was being moved in 1947 from Gambaga in the north-east to a more central location. The candidate towns were Savelugu, Tamale and Yapei. Savelugu which the British authorities preferred – by virtue of it being the seat of the second most powerful traditional authority in Dagbong – lost out because it suffered seasonal drought. The scarcity of water in the Savelugu township has continued to this day, causing the people of Kumbungu in the neighbouring town to continuously tease and mock them. Also, as a result of drinking unclean water, the district in recent times ranked highest in guinea-worm cases, though the disease has almost been wiped out now.

Practically, the MCA Ghana Program will deliver the people of Savelugu from the dual scourge of legendary drought, and being recorded by the Jimmy Carter Foundation as leading in guinea-worm cases in the sub-region.

MiDA has an activity called the Tamale Water Extension Project to extend water to guinea-worm prone communities. Contractors will begin work in January 2011 to construct a dedicated water pipeline, and distribution pipelines spanning about 30 kilometres from Kumbungu to Savelugu. The bulk pipeline will pass through and benefit communities in the district such as Moglaa, Ligba, Tuoteng-yili, Tibale, Kpeindua, Yong, Botingli, and of course to its destination in the Savelugu township. There will be overhead tanks and an extensive distribution network of pipelines and stand-pipes in Savelugu town. Other towns which are out of reach will benefit from the rehabilitation of an old water treatment plant to serve the Veterinary College, Pong-Tamale, and Pong communities. Gone will be the sight donkey-carts pulling loads of barrels of water, and of women trekking several miles in search of water in the dry season. Teaching and learning will be enhanced in the local High School where students spend long hours finding water.

The MiDA Program has already trained about 5000 farmers in Savelugu-Nantong district alone under its commercial-development-of-farmer-based-organisations project. Each one of these trained farmers has benefited from a grant package called a ‘starter-pack’ totalling about $1.2 million. A multi-facility Agric-Business Centre will be constructed at Bunglung near Savelugu to serve as a processing, storage, and marketing centre for farmers.

Another one of the projects that delights the hearts of the people in the district is the 114-kilometres road project which started in March 2010 with two contractors on site, and is expected to be completed in the next fifteen months.

The ‘injection’ of so many development projects in such a short span of time, is unprecedented in the history of rural development in any district in Ghana.

The NR1 Roads, one to the east and the other to the west, almost in a straight line, will instantly uplift and beautify the Savelugu town. To the east, there will be a bituminous surfaced road teeing off from the Bolgatanga highway to the important town of Zoggu, then on and on, to hit another trunk-road at Tampiong junction. The western road also tees off from the highway, opening up farming communities, on and on to hit the Naboggu river which is a good water source for irrigation and dry season farming.

The NR2 Roads will open up vast tracks of land from Pong-Tamale towards Karaga district, and another road from Diyeli will pass through Tigla to hit the White Volta to benefit farming communities there too.

MiDA has already constructed or rehabilitated 7 classroom blocks in the Savelugu-Nantong District and is set to construct about 10 more; these will be provided with durable furniture and sanitary facilities.

The district will also benefit from the provision of electricity for agribusinesses. A contractor has been commissioned to start work to run a 34kiloVolts line from Savelugu to Gushie (a distance of 25 kilometres) and to install a transformer and 200 metre low-voltage network for the Integrated Tamale Fruit Company (ITFC). Obviously all communities along this bulk supply can utilise it through the Ghana Government’s self-help-electrification programme.

MiDA also provides credit to farmers through the local bank, Borimanga Rural Bank, and has thus improved liquidity in the district. The rural bank has been computerised, provided with a generator set, and is being networked to attain modern banking standards. The capacities of bank staffs have been enhanced through numerous training modules.

There is also the Pilot Land Activity to be implemented in the district, aimed at registering and titling parcels of farm land. This activity aims to give land tenure security to commercial farmers and will therefore enhance the idea of farming as a business. A Land Titling Registry office block will be built in Savelugu as part of this activity. The facility will be fitted with a Continuously Operating & Receiving Station (CORS) and other modern surveying equipment to aid survey work via satellite.

There are even spin-off benefits coming from the road projects. Several bungalows have been constructed near the District Assembly offices. Offices are also being constructed near the High Schools at Savelugu and Pong-Tamale. All these assets will be bequeathed to the local authorities upon completion of the Program.

Obviously Savelugu-Nantong is the envy of districts in the region, even the other four districts also benefiting from the MCA Ghana Program. If Compact funds were enough this is the way all other participating districts should have been covered with projects.

But there are still skeptics. There is the man at Zoggu village who took a bet with surveyors who had gone to design Road-eleven. He challenged the surveyors and anybody that it was all a deceit. The people of the village had seen several of such developers, ‘lairs’ who had come in the same manner, dragging chains and tapes, looking through strange instruments and promising to fix their road. This one would end with the same result - naught. But, surely, with the MCC funded MCA Ghana Program, it is happening and one can take a safe bet with the young man!

There are also those who have expressed concerns as to why certain roads were selected ahead of others. They ask why the famous and oldest road in the district from Savelugu to Kumbungu that links two irrigation projects at Bontanga and Libga to a highway was not selected. Also, they ask, for what economic reason, or which economist put the Diare-Adayili road ahead of the Gushei-Dipale road on which the largest ITFC Mango plantation and an irrigation project are located?

Yes, development is coming to Savelugu and its people are changing. With the face-lift the MCA Ghana Program is bringing to the district, new investors will be attracted to add to the ITFC, and the shea-nut processing factory so that Savelugu can regain its position as the most prosperous town in the Dagomba traditional area.

Fortunately the incumbent traditional authority in Savelugu is a very enlightened one, in the person of His Excellency, Ghana’s Ambassador to the Republic of Senegal. Working together with the local government authority and other development partners, inner-city roads and better housing for the locals will be provided to complete the modernisation of Savelugu-Nantong District.

Next time you are in the Savelugu-Nantong district take a trip on the 18-kilometre-MiDA-built-road from Savelugu through the farmer communities of Kpeindua, Tindang, Boggu, Kodugziegu, and Kpallung, to Ada-yili, Then visit Zonchagni community, there to behold a serene and beautiful water body where hippopotamuses used to shelter, you will also meet MiDA trained farmers, see a MiDA built school, and take ride on an out-board-motor boat on the river.

By Alabira Ibrahim
MiDA Zonal Monitoring & Evaluation Manager

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