Poverty, as a generic term, goes beyond the lack of personal financial resources but rather entails the lack of basic infrastructural needs such as lack of clean and potable drinking water, lack of toilets facilities, lack of sustainable income, etc. The Ghana Living Standard Survey in its 2018 report indicated that over 6 million Ghanaians live in poverty. This implies that, almost 1/3 of Ghanaians lack basic infrastructure needs key to poverty eradication as mentioned earlier
In most rural and deprived communities, womenfolk and children walk tens of kilometers just to fetch water and this phenomenon has been identified as a major contributor to poverty in these rural communities. It has also been identified as a major challenge to education of children in these communities as they spend almost their entire day attending to this basic need.
In the urban settings also, especially in our institutions, such as schools, hospitals, markets, etc. The lack of proper sanitation facilities has been a challenge for several years with little done by successive governments to ameliorate the situation. The UNDP in their assessment of water and sanitation situation in Ghana in 2018 has found out that; fewer than 2 out every 5 Ghanaians drink safe water; 2 out of every 5 schools are without access to toilets facilities and three (3) out of 5 schools are without access to water supplies. A visit to Vane Avatime SHS and Kpando SHS, all in the Volta Region, has validated this claim. These schools still use pit latrines in this day and age which is impacting negatively on the health of the school children.
In the northern regions, the poverty situation has been exacerbated by the lack of dams or water holding structures to ensure all year-round farming and this is because, the people of this part of the country are mostly farmers whose livelihood is entirely dependent on farming and the situation has been worsened with the lack of adequate storage facilities to store their produce after the farming season.
The United Nations (UN) has therefore identified these challenges as some of the major sources of the increasing poverty situation in the world, particularly, in Africa of which Ghana is not an exception. In response to this, the UN has developed a set of goals to tackle these challenges; Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and has charged member states to develop policies and programs to meet these goals by 2030.
In response to this challenge, the NPP government has since its inception introduced policies and programs purposely aimed at accelerating development aimed at meeting the global development goals.
The government has thus taken a new approach to development different from the path that has rather increased inequalities and entrenched poverty in our communities.
This new innovative approach to development under the able leadership of H.E Nana Addo is the INFRASTRUCTURE FOR POVERTY ERADICATION PROGRAM (IPEP).
Under this audacious approach to development, the national capital expenditure budget has been reoriented to place a focus on local constituency-specific needs. The government has reallocated the equivalent of $275 million yearly from its existing capital expenditure budget to the IPEP to provide local solutions to our local problems.
In that direction, a crosscutting and multipurpose ministry, Ministry of Special Development Initiatives (MSDI) headed by Hon. Mavis Hawa Koomson, was created to spearhead this audacious transformative program of local infrastructure development especially in the rural and deprived communities by providing an oversight and strategic policy direction for the implementation of IPEP by the Development Authorities.
The IPEP comes in two (2) forms; the GOVERNMENT PRIORITY PROJECTS and the CONSTITUENCY SPECIFIC NEEDS
Three (3) Development Authorities were established as the main implementing agencies under the Ministry; the Northern Development Authority which replaced SADA, Middle Belt Development Authrity for the regions in the middle belt zone and Coastal Development Authority for the coastal regions.
These authorities are to see to it that, government policies such as WATER FOR ALL POLICY, SANITATION FOR ALL POLICY, ONE VILLAGE ONE DAM POLICY, ONE DISTRICT ONE WAREHOUSE POLICY, ONE CONSTITUENCY ONE AMBULANCE as well as the CONSTITUENCY SPECIFIC NEEDS are implemented with urgency to accelerate the provision of basic infrastructure needs to distressed communities.
In less than two (2) years after the conception of this innovative development approach, it has started bearing fruits in terms of its intended purpose; provision of basic infrastructure development in rural and deprived communities.
The Government through the Ministry has this year alone commenced the construction of 1,000 ten (10)- Seater Water Closet Institutional toilets with Mechanized Borehole with 10,000 litres storage tank and bio-digester across the 275 constituencies in this country with Vane Avatime and Kpando SHSs as beneficiaries of these facilities to put an end to the usage of PIT LATRINES in their schools.
Secondly, the Ministry through the Development Authorities has also initiated the construction of 1,000 Community-based water systems with reservoir tanks and solar pumps with a number of distribution points across the 275 constituencies. A single water system has the capacity to supply water to over 2,400 people per day. The people of Amanfoso, Kwatire and Adantia in the Sunyani Municipality who hadn’t seen clean water in their life time will now have the benefit of accessing safe drinking water likewise the people of over 1,000 communities in rural and deprived communities scattered in all the 275 constituencies.
This initiative is in response to the NPP electoral promise of WATER FOR ALL agenda which is to ensure that every Ghanaian has access to potable water.
These are in addition to the construction of 570 small dams and dugouts across communities of the three northern regions under the One Village, One dam initiative. These projects are currently ongoing in all the 57 constituencies in the northern regions and work is scheduled to be completed by the close of the year despite the persistent rainfall which has delayed the work for sometime now.
The 1V1D initiative has been singled out as the panacea to the chronic unemployment in northern Ghana as farmers will now farm all year round. It also has the added advantage of solving the Kayayie syndrome as young girls instead of journeying down south to engage in menial and demeaning jobs will now have a sustainable source of income back home thereby reducing the north-south migration.
Furthermore, In collaboration with the Buffer Stock company, the Construction of fifty (50) 1,000 metric tonnes pre-fabricated warehouses under the One District, One Warehouse initiative is currently underway in some selected districts across the country.
These warehouses comes with ancillary facilities such as laboratory, dryer, eatery, mechanized boreholes, and powered by solar panels. The facility has the capacity to store about 20,000 bags of grains (cocoa size) at a time and are projected to create over 1,250 jobs when completed. This initiative is to also support the planting for food and jobs program by the Agriculture Ministry..
These projects when completed is envisaged to deal with the chronic problem of post-harvest losses that has bedevilled the agriculture sector for years and also as a guarantee of reliable income to farmers.
Again, the government through the Ministry is set to procure 275 ambulances as part of government’s strategy to put in place a robust emergency response systems throughout the country as part of One Constituency, One Ambulance Initiatives.
Additionally, the Ministry through the three (3) Development Authorities, will soon roll out massive projects throughout the country in response to the need’s assessment that were carried out earlier last year by a 10-member regional teams in each region to bring on board the local needs of the people.
IS MSDI USEFUL?
The usefulness of any entity should be measured by its output and its ability to deliver on its mandate. The MSDI has so far delivered on every aspect of its mandate and its transformative effect can be felt by the rural and deprived communities whose lives are in the process of being transformed for the better.
The usefulness of MSDI can therefore be measured by Adaklu Waya, Vane Avatime, Shia, Matse communities, etc in the Volta Region; Amanfoso, Kwatire, Adantia communities, etc in the Brong Ahafo region; Loloto, Jamboi, Chakori, Nyeko, Kpegu, Sachilbo, Garinshanu, Adido communities, etc in the northern regions, who but for this ministry’s intervention would still be without access to basic infrastructure need.
FEARS OF DUPLICATION OF PROJECTS BY STAND ALONE MINISTRIES
The government in envisaging this possibility has since taken steps to mitigate it by setting up an Inter-Ministerial Committee on IPEP with representation from the Ministry of Health, Ministry of food and Agriculture, Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Sanitation and National Disaster Management Organization (NADMO). This committee is to ensure that projects and programmes under IPEP are well coordinated and synchronized to avoid duplication of projects and programmes by government The possibility of duplication has therefore been catered for.
WHY NOT STAND ALONE MINISTRIES EXECUTING THESE PROJECTS?
That approach to development has not yielded an optimum results as far as meeting the basic needs of the people are concern with the resultant disparities we now see in our development process in terms of widening inequalities and increasing poverty in this country especially in the rural and deprived communities. It is said, you cannot be doing the same thing and be expecting different results.
This new approach of development; IPEP, will fill the gap of the unequal development that has been occasioned by the previous path of allocating all capital expenditure to stand alone ministries to solve these basic yet very important needs. This new approach will again complement existing ministeries in accelerating the closure of the disparity in our development gap.
The source of funding for this ambitious innovative development approach (IPEP) is the $1 million per Constituency allocation which has since been allocated and being used to fund the projects mentioned earlier.
These bold transformative programs as mentioned earlier form part of government’s priority programs aimed at achieving the Sustainable Development Goals 3, 6 and 12 that emphasize on good health and well-being, clean water and sanitation, and responsible consumption and production respectively.