Category Archives: Features

Bring back our Rights to Water

By | Features | No Comments

What is the circumference of the planet earth?  No need to be specific, but we know it would make a baobab tree look very, very small.  With that in mind, consider this, if all the people living in rural areas without access to clean water stood in a queue it would go around the earth 6 and a half times.

How long would a similar queue look in Ghana?  If all the people living in rural areas without access to clean water made a queue could they make a circle around the whole of Ghana?  And if we added in those living in informal settlements in our peri-urban and urban areas how much longer would our queue become? This is a queue of those whose rights are being violated.

The celebration of World Water Day is meant to acknowledge all that is being done to ensure that everyone has their rights to water realized.  This World Water Day it is great that we can celebrate the fact that Ghana is one of the 10 most improved countries for rural water access.  The State of the World Water Report 2017, a WaterAid publication, notes that in 2000, 57.1% of Ghana’s population had access to safe water.  Fifteen years later, the percentage of the rural population with access to safe water was 84%.  This 26.9% increase over fifteen years is certainly to be celebrated. Ghana is in 8th place on the list of the top 10.

Our celebration, however, has to be cautious.  We must still ask: what is left to be done so that 100% of rural dwellers have access as well as those in peri-urban and urban areas?

This day, then, is an opportunity to look at the recently released Government of Ghana Budget for 2017 from a WASH perspective.  In other words, let’s review to what extent the budget focuses on water, sanitation and hygiene.  And given it is World Water Day, I will discuss mainly water, rife as this is with running the risk of reinforcing the dominant tendency to prioritize water to the detriment of sanitation and hygiene.  Because the Citizen’s Budget is meant to be user friendly, I will use that for a quick analysis.

According to the Citizens Budget 2017, the government plans to construct at least 2000 boreholes.  If next year, we will be able to see Ghana climb further up the list of the top 10 countries with the most improved countries for rural water access, then we have to do more than construct another 2000 or more boreholes. In fact, instead of talking about the number of boreholes to be constructed it would be more helpful to speak about the additional number of people who will gain access to safe water services and at what cost.   The Budget should tell us how much we are going to spend to ensure an approximate number of people gain access.

The Citizens Budget 2017 identifies the construction of new health facilities as a priority.  What ought also to be prioritized is the provision of safe water, sanitation, and hygiene in all Health Care Facilities.  A recent study by the World Health Organization and United Nations International Children’s Education Fund, on the provision of WASH in Health Care Facilities covering 54 countries and 66,101 facilities found that “38% of facilities don’t have improved water source, 19% do not have improved sanitation and 35% do not have water and soap for hand washing”.[1]  Similar analysis done by WaterAid Ghana, in collaboration with two District Assemblies, reveals comparable findings.  Unquestionably, water, sanitation, and hygiene, in Health Care Facilities, schools, and other institutions need to be urgently prioritized.  It would be immensely helpful to citizens if we could know precisely what budget has been allocated for water, sanitation, and hygiene services in Health Care Facilities, as well as schools.

I am fully aware that the Budget statement will not elaborate how things will be done.  I know it can only give a snapshot.  The point of raising these issues here is a reminder to citizens and the media of the need to be vigilant about budgets at various levels of government.  In fact, budget tracking must become a focal area for civil society as well as citizens more generally.

For the rights to water and sanitation of all who live in Ghana to be realized we must prioritize the most marginalized in our planning, budgeting, and implementation; then we need to budget appropriately and subsequently utilizing the budget as directed by the planned priorities, ensuring value for money guided by principles of equity, effectiveness, and efficiency.  Therefore “Bring Back Our Rights” is not a plea.

Indeed, for those fortunate to have been a part of the screening of “Bring Back Our Rights” at the Banquet Hall on World Water Day, the eloquence of the school children in demand of their rights should strengthen our own resolve.  Water, sanitation, and Hygiene are ultimately about life and death.  Every newborn and infant death as a result of sepsis or any diarrhoeal related death is testimony to this brutal fact.  So if “Bring Back Our Rights” seems to be a rift off of the “Bring back our Girls” campaign it is with good reason – both are concerned with the right to life and the opportunity for everyone to fulfil their human potential.  Let’s listen to our children let us Bring Back Our Rights to water and sanitation.

By Dr. Chaka Uzondu

The Author is the Ag. Head of Policy, Advocacy and Campaigns at WaterAid Ghana

He also serves as WASH and Health Focal Lead

[1]  Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene in Health Care Facilities: Status in Low — and Middle – Income Countries and the Way Forward, World Health Organization and UNICEF, 2016.

The invisible hand of government in cedi depreciation

By | Features | No Comments

Jerry J Afolabi

Introduction

As the normal principle of economics says, when a domestic currency depreciates it makes the prices of goods and services decline compared to the international prices. This cause increase in exports and makes it competitive which will eventually increase production and employment to surge growth in the entire economy. Unfortunately, it is not the case in Ghana.

We have experienced steep depreciation of the cedi over the past five years, a massive decline in export and a slow economic growth over the last few years. This is as a result of dollarization of our economy, mismanagement of resources, high demand for dollar for importation and low exportation.

It is important to mention the demand & supply factors that also influence the depreciation of a currency. Our country is faced with high demand for Dollars ($) to meet the following; bills payable (imports), huge capital transfers, royalties to international bodies, transfers by multinationals to their head office and subscriptions to international bodies. However, the supply is not enough to balance the equation since there has been little effort to increase exports.

Remittances over the few years have also declined significantly since the global economy is not doing very well. For the grants, loans and dividends we have seen massive mismanagement and corruption erode them all. This write up seeks to indicate some of the main government actions and policies that contribute to the depreciation of the cedi and recommend possible ways to address the situation.

Government’s Actions

The main government action that has caused the continuous depreciation of the cedi is the excessive over the ceiling borrowing by the government in foreign currencies leaving the deficit high and weakens our local currency. The Ghanaian public debt to GDP stood at 71.9% ($30.1 billion) as at November 2016 from BoGwebsite. Previous governments of our country embarked on borrowing for developmental projects and for other several reasons.

The just past government came under huge attack and criticism for mismanaging the borrowed funds. The high interest payments on these loans have made it very difficult for the funds needed to be made available for private sector growth reduced. Gross Domestic Products (GDP) targets are not met simply because the economy is weak as a result of the weak currency.

Again, governments inability to enforce the restrictive policies on importation of goods like  rice & sugar, tomato paste, old refrigerators, chairs and other food ingredients, results in high inflation and subsequently causing the cedi to depreciate. The policies governing importation are so relaxed that almost everything we used in Ghana is imported.

The other issue is the inability of the local industries to produce these products at a competitive price and quality due to the high cost of production. Since inflation is inversely proportionate to currency, as inflation figure increase the currency depreciates and the vice versa. The balance of payment of our country has continuously seen importation outweighing export and this is one reason why the cedi keeps depreciating.

Furthermore, the rapid depletion of the country’s foreign reserves by the government is one crucial factor that has caused the cedi to lose value over the years. Past governments have used the foreign reserve as a back up to solving the depreciation of the cedi without continuous effort to increase exportation to make up for the difference.

The surge in the power crisis (DUMSOR) over the last few years eroded the investor confidence in the country which resulted in most investors selling off their investment and repatriate them in foreign currency. This is the reason why the last two years saw a heavy depreciation of the cedi worsening the exchange rate in the country.

The Cedi against the Dollar

The cedi over the years has seen continuous depreciation which is very worrying and as a country we need to find a lasting solution to this perennial problem that confronts us. Once a white investor asked me a question and I quote “Must your country always experience steep depreciation of the cedi every last quarter of election year and most often first quarter of every year” I said to him it is mismanagement and misplaced priorities as a country.

The year-to-date Ghana cedi depreciation to the dollar now stands at 24.57 per cent, as at March 1, 2017.the table below show the rate of depreciation of the cedi to the dollar from 2014.

Year       Rate of Depreciation (%)

Mid  2014             27.99

End 2014              32.45

Mid 2015              26.20

End 2015              15.65

Mid 2016              3.34

End 2016              9.65

Some Recommendations to Government

There are several ways government can manage/control the depreciation of the cedi. Most importantly the complete implementation and monitoring of policy progress is what brings the results needed. The effective implementation will set the cedi on a strength path for a stable economy.

First of all, the government should institute a policy directive to all the ministers appointed to lobby for foreign investor/investments to invest into the local institutions/companies and government bonds under their ministry. The finance minister and central bank governor should collaborate with foreign central banks to invest in government bonds locally.

Secondly, the government through the central bank and parliament should issue a white paper signed off by all stakeholders to halt all local payment transactions that are made in the major trading currencies especially to end the dollarization of our economy. There shouldn’t be any local company/institution/organization, multinational or group of individuals and individuals that price or render service in the country in any of the major trading currencies.

This white paper must have clearly spelt out sanctions. Example; withdrawal of company registration certificate and huge cash penalty. Every transaction and payments must be made in cedi to boost the confidence in the economy and strengthen the cedi against the major trading currencies.

Thirdly, government’s Fiscal expenditure must be controlled/minimized. Government should prioritize its expenditure and block all the loopholes in the economy. Over the years government officials have taken advantage of the leakages in the economy to enrich themselves and perpetuated corrupt activities. There should be watch dog machinery in place to curb all these corrupt activities.

There should be proper mechanism in place to manage information since some events/news/information can cause massive surge or erratic whipsaw action in the trading market to affect the cedi.

Lastly, massive promotion for exportation of all agricultural produces both raw material and processed goods in the international market. Ministry of agriculture should collaborate with the private sector to also promote homegrown produce locally as well. Government should strategize to revive/revamp all the collapsed state companies i.e. the pencil factor in Kumasi, averyimer rice factory, sugar factory etc.

Conclusion

To increase the value of the cedi, the government needs to implement these recommendations and other suggestions made by other scholars to realize the objective. We cannot continue to govern the same way we have done and expect to see or experience a change in our economy and the lives of our people. Ghanaians need immediate solution to continuous fall of the cedi.

©Jerry.J.AFOLABI
[email protected]
Follow me on twitter @Afojel
LinkedIN @afolabijelili
WhatsApp +233541238987
facebook @Afojel

Fight against galamsey: Mr Minister, stop begging and enforce the law

By | Features | No Comments

Galamsey operations over the years have destroyed most of our agriculture lands, as well as polluted many water bodies in Ghana. This has subsequently led to water shortages in some parts of the country. The saddest part of this is that most of these illegal galamsey operations are carried out by Chinese nationals who use heavy machinery in their illegal activity. To add insult to injury, some of these Chinese galamsey operators have their own armed private security personnel who harass and intimidate locals. This poses a major risk for national security. The galamsey menace is, therefore, one that has to be ruthlessly dealt with.

On the contrary, it has been reported that our Minister For Lands and Natural Resources, John Peter Amewu, on Monday in the quest to solve this social canker held an emergency meeting with the Chinese Ambassador to Ghana, Sun Baohongand, and BEGGED her to help address this issue – a move that was totally needless and even unacceptable! The laws of the country on illegal mining are clear, and they restrict foreigners from engaging in small scale mining. What those Chinese nationals are doing is therefore a criminal act and must been seen as such. We are asking the Minister to enforce our mining laws and stop begging the Chinese Ambassador to Ghana to help. The galamsey problem is a Ghanaian problem not a Chinese problem and must be solved with Ghanaian laws.

The Minister should have rather asked the Chinese ambassador to warn its citizens about the fact that the security agencies of the country will enforce all the mining laws and any Chinese national who is found culpable will be dealt with according to the laws of Ghana.

Mr. Minister, we are sitting on a time bomb, we don’t have the leisure of time to waste! The time of diplomacy in solving this galamsey menace is over! It is time to take action to save our future generation.

By Elvis Oppong-Mensah

The writer is a programmes officer at Civic Response, an NGO

Email: [email protected]

Notes from the Ghanaman File: NPP’s Delta Forces and the IGP’s First Political Test

By | Features | No Comments


Every country gets the police service it deserves. You doubt that? In 2015, I wrote an article in the aftermath of the Anas Expose on the Judiciary and said that every country gets the judiciary it deserves because a people’s culture has a lot to do with how their institutions work.

The part of our culture in our national life shows from how related we are and how we take advantage with our associations to do good and also free ourselves from trouble. We use our links with chiefs, Pastors and religious leaders and politicians anytime we have any brush with the law and we know these influential people can use their offices and freedom is just a phone call away!

So when about a month ago, our President, His Excellency Nana Akufo-Addo charged the IGP and the police service to be apolitical in their duties and not feel compelled to work for the ruling government, I applauded him and yet asked how our culture would allow the IGP to carry the President’s advice as the gospel.

Indeed, the presidential advice came around the time a certain Invisible Forces security group operating in the name of the NPP had been let loose to seize state vehicles and to allegedly go round to exact their pound of flesh from the members of the previous government. It looked like, the police were impotent in dealing with their onslaught, knowing the political power behind the group.

The name of the Invisible Forces has even featured in the unfortunate Kintampo Water Fall disaster but we all looked like some lame ducks. Then, from Kumasi comes another group called the Delta Forces. On TV and social media, their attack on an appointee of the President of the republic to the office of Regional security coordinator has confirmed my fears and those of the security experts who have constantly reminded the nation of the looming dangers in the NDC and NPP nurturing what they say is political militancy.

Yes, it is not the first time we are witnessing this bizarre show of impunity in the name of political activism. In the times of Former presidents Ata Mills and John Mahama, some NDC foot soldiers matched on some offices to ‘uproot’ certain officers from their legitimate offices including one in which some tender documents were destroyed. I can’t recall the outcome of the police investigations in all these incidents. But the bottom-line is nobody went to prison for all those grievous offences. The reason simply being that the suspects belonged to the party in power.

In opposition, the NPP alleged severally that some of their members were attacked by the NDC but the police didn’t act just because they felt powerless dealing with government-linked groups. Now the tables turned and NPP affiliate groups allegedly went about taking over state properties and attacking perceived opposition subjects without much reaction from the police till the President openly encouraged the police not to feel their hands tied when dealing with Government related cases.

Last Friday presented the first test for the IGP as a group of agitated NPP supporters run over the Ashanti Regional Coordinating Council offices in ‘an Aboakyer style’ to capture an appointee of the President in charge of Regional Security in an obvious defiance and disrespect of His Excellency who appointed him.

The Police did well by going to the poor man’s rescue but he was humiliated as he was seen falling down on TV as he was shoved here and there on his way to safety. Then there was someone supposedly speaking as the group’s spokesperson explaining why someone else and not the gentleman should have been appointed by the president. Then the spokesman literally sent a warning to the President to replace this man or there will be dire consequences!

The police has arrested one of these guys but it leaves to be seen what the outcome will be because, their spokesperson said they were in the trenches and bushes and fought their way to bring the NPP to power. To them, that makes the group kingmakers and I wonder how the IGP will deal with such ‘royals’ in the NPP.

Time and space have been invested in discussing these groups in the NPP and NDC over the years but they both did nothing about it and rather sponsored them directly or indirectly but it is time now for there to be a concerted national action starting from the police and the courts to deal with them to uproot them from our governance system. That calls for a genuine and practical support from the politicians.

If the IGP fails with this test case, we’ll be endorsing more of such groups to spring up in the names of political parties and we’ll be breeding a future doom brigade awaiting to explode in conflagration of the nation. Go ask Boko Haram, ISIS and the others which started in the name of religion and politics.

By Kojo Ackaah-Kwarteng

Head of Station,Onua 95.1

Letter: Journalist petitions GJA Election Committee

By | Features | No Comments

Affail Monney is the GJA President

THE CHAIRMAN

ELECTION DISPUTE ADJUDICATION COMMITTEE

GHANA JOURNALISTS ASSOCIATION

ACCRA

Dear Sir,

RE: DISPUTE ABOUT THE MANDATE OF THE EXECUTIVES OF THE GHANA JOURNALISTS ASSOCIATION AND THE LEGALITY OF THE GJA ELECTIONS OF 2017

I write in the spirit of Article 11 (a) and (e) of the 2004 Constitution of the Ghana Journalists Association and as such, plead with your honorable committee to give me audience to be a party in responding to a letter written by Charles Benoni Okine and Enoch Darfah Frimpong, contesting the mandate of the Executive committee and elections committee of the GJA respectively.

In a letter widely circulated on social media and addressed to the GJA Election Adjudication Committee with the caption, DISPUTE ABOUT THE MANDATE OF THE EXECUTIVES OF THE GHANA JOURNALISTS ASSOCIATION AND THE LEGALITY OF THE GJA ELECTIONS OF 2017 , the duo purportedly raised some constitutional issues which in their view make the 2017 elections of the Association null and void but I will like to draw the attention of your honorable Committee to the facts that those articles and clauses raised in their letter cannot and should not be a basis of postponing or cancelling the elections which is to be held in less than ten days from now.

I want to refresh your memories on article 34 b (i) and 35 (iv) of the 2004 constitution of the Ghana Journalists Association and appear herein as a participant and witness of the last Emergency General Meeting that accepted a motion which was unanimously seconded by members of the said meeting that, elections should be held before the end of the first quarter of 2017.

Mr. Chairperson, any act by any person or group of persons to influence, any decision to cancel or put on hold the elections slated for Friday March 31st, 2017 would amount to an action in retrogression and a serious breach of the guiding principles of the Ghana Journalists Association.

I want to hasten to add that, Charles Benoni Okine and Enoch Darfah Frimpong were not present at the last meeting held on 26 August, 2016 which accepted to hold elections by the close of the first quarter of 2017.  By this, they have exhibited bad faith for the association.

I urge your honorable committee to disregard any attempt by any group to stall this election since adherence to such pressure will mar the image and reputation of our cherished association.

Mr. Chairperson, I wish to reiterate that, I write in the spirit of Article 11 (a) (b) (d) (e) (g) and particularly (f) and request that you grant me audience if the letter by the duo will be heard by the committee.

Signed

Maxwell kudekor

Member

GJA

Email: [email protected]

Cc:

Elections Committee

Ghana Journalists Association

Accra

Public health in limbo: house officers everywhere, but no posting

By | Features | No Comments

Now that Ghana has two Veterinary Medical Schools to train Veterinary Surgeons, one may perhaps have hopes that this will herald the new era of solving the problem of inadequate veterinary surgeons.

The irony is that, this is not the case. Many of budding Veterinary Surgeons and Veterinary Medical Students do not know their fate after graduating from the Veterinary Medical School.

The normal trajectory for them is to be posted by the Veterinary Medical Council to do their housemanship after graduation under the supervision of qualified and experience Veterinary Surgeon. However, for the past seven months the immediate graduate veterinary surgeons have not received their posting. These graduates are totaling 18, 10 from University of Ghana and 8 from KNUST. And those who have graduated 2015 have not been engaged. As it stands now, there are 12 and 8 veterinary medical students expected to graduate from UG and KNUST respectively. The necessary authority to do the posting has not made an effort to post them.

It is on record that there is huge deficit of Veterinary Surgeon with sufficient clinical and scientific knowledge, and skills needed to respond to animal health and zoonotic challenges of Ghana as well as emerging and re-emerging diseases of economic and zoonotic importance. The short term measure of re-engaging retired Veterinary Surgeons is inadequate and even negligible in addressing the situation. Given the essential service of Veterinary Surgeons and the alarming deficit, it will be expected that the Necessary Authorities act appropriately, post these graduate Veterinary Surgeons, license them afterwards and subsequently post them to serve in their capacities as veterinary surgeons. Nothing of these has been done. This may be cumulating towards one thing; the authority does not care about developing the younger generation of veterinary surgeons, animal health and the health of the Ghanaian population.

The final year veterinary medical students that have less than five month to graduate are worried and do not know what is at stake for them after graduation. According to a 3rd clinical year student of University of Ghana Veterinary Medical Student “We don’t really know what the council is doing about our housemanship. The council is supposed to take charge, process and post us accordingly and spearhead our remuneration as house officers”. The pertinent questions to ask are; are they also going to add up to the graduates who have not being posted for housemanship? Why is there no posting for the House officers? Does the authority appreciate the relevance and contribution of these House Officers? Does the authority appreciate the effect of the deficit in the country? Is the authority not interested in registering graduate veterinary surgeon as Veterinary Surgeons to serve Mother Ghana? These are questions that need to be answered.

It will be in the interest of Ghana for the Veterinary Council to work accordingly toward the posting of graduate Veterinary Surgeons and act proactively to prevent any future undesirable situation of graduate veterinary Surgeon not posted for housemanship. There is evidence to show the impact of the Veterinary House Officers. The first batch of Veterinary house officers who were posted served in capacities such as providing medical care to food animals, carrying out meat inspections, carrying out laboratory analysis, disease surveillance in wildlife and inspecting animals to prevent diseases, safeguard public health, support livestock farmers and contribute to protecting the good will of the Ghana in tourism and international trade in animal and animal products. A Veterinary Surgeon who graduated in 2015 when contacted had this to say “I identified and confiscated an anthrax carcass during my routine meat inspection as a House Officer saving farmers and the public from the lethal and economic effect of anthrax”. The rippling impact of the Veterinary House Officers cannot be under estimated.

Their housemanship is required for their development, the future of veterinary medical practice, the protection against diseases of animal origin and the promotion of holistic public health.

By Future Vet. Surgeons |Ghana

Protecting the environment: INSPOCCE in focus

By | Education, Features | No Comments

Introduction

The task of providing quality education to students requires effective partnership and participation of all stakeholders, including donor bodies. This article does not have the métier to list all the organisations which are supporting the Ghana Education Service (GES) to deliverquality education to the Ghanaian child.

The author, however,calls for applausefor the World Education, Inc. (WEI), the Global Alliance for Clean Cook-stoves (GACC) and the Ghana Alliance for Clean Cook-stoves (GHACCO), at least, for the sake of this write-up.In fact, they are working seriously with GES, the Ministry of Energy and the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment to develop what is called, “Integrated School Project on Clean Cooking Energy (INSPOCCE)”.

The essence of INSPOCCE is to imbibe in pupils the knowledge of using clean and efficient household cooking solutionswhich will protect the environment and improve livelihoods.

The rate of household-energy consumption in Ghana

According to the draft Teachers’ Manual on INSPOCCE (n.d.a), energy, although not being featured prominently in the Millennium Development Goals,has made undisputed contributions to human life and so has now been captured clearly among the Sustainable Development Goals.

The International Energy Agency, IEA (2011) says about 1.3 billion people lack electricity and 2.7 billion people relying on traditional biomass for cooking and heating with more than one-third of a household’s budget servicing fuel costs in many countries in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Having recognised the need for better access to affordable, sustainable and environmentally sound energy resources and services, the United Nations General Assembly declaredthe year, 2012, as an International Year of Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL)bycalling on member states, including Ghana, to raise the awareness of citizens of the need to address energy issues and to promote action(s)that protect the environment locally and globally.

The Ghana Living Standards Survey (2014) informs that 72.8% of households use wood fuel and charcoal (that is; 41.3% on wood fuel and 31.5% on charcoal). It adds that 22.3% use Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) with 43.6% and 35.8% of urban dwellers using charcoal and LPG respectively as their cooking fuels.

Reports also say over 52.7% of households in Accra alone use LPG compared to 28.0% of those in other urban communities with 74.8% of rural householdson wood fuels and 16.5% on charcoal.

The Food and Agriculture Organisation (2015) believes that over 50% of wood fuel harvested globally satisfies household energy needs as developing countries contribute 75% of the harvested wood fuel to households for cooking, heating and for lighting.

Negative effects of using traditional biomass

Findings say the over-dependence on traditional biomass, such as wood fuel,for cooking, heating and lighting comes with its own challenges for the environment and human health.

The draft Peer Educators’ Session Manual on INSPOCCE (n.d.a) says the cooking method of using woody biomass as fuel has affected the health, environment and economic livelihoods of users, their immediate localities through national to global extents, and that, “The risk of female household members exposed to indoor smoke suffering from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Diseases or heart-related diseases is three times higher than those who are not. They risk higher rates of deaths from lung cancer. As a cultural practice, fuel wood collection and cooking responsibilities limit the women’s capacity to advance or do other things.”

Bond (2007) has estimated the use of traditional biomass for cooking to have accounted for 18% of the global greenhouse gas emissions with IEA (2006) also stating that, “Although the collection of fuel-wood does not directly cause deforestation because the branches are mainly collected from roadsides or agricultural lands, the production of charcoal from fuel-wood burning has been proved to exacerbate land degradation in sub-Saharan Africa.”

The World Health Organisation (WHO) informs that an exposure to household-air pollution contributes to 16,000 deaths per year in Ghana with the same condition also to blame for the annual loss of 502,000 disability-adjusted life years (according to DALY, a standard metric used by WHO to read the burden of death and illness from specific risk factors).

The high demand for fuel-wood leads to Ghana having one of the highest rates of deforestation in Africa. In addition, the environmental impact of traditional cooking methods includes air pollution, with over 16,600 deaths annually as a result of exposure to Household Air Pollution and more than 21 million people being impacted by exposure to HAP each year (WHO, 2014).

The INSPOCCEand the environment

INSPOCCE, which is being funded by GACC, started in September 2015 as a pilot project involving 2,000 junior high students, 50 teachers and 18,000 community members in New Achimota, Odumase-Amanfrom, Kutunse, Fise, Sapeiman, Pokuase and Akotoshiein the Ga West Municipality of Greater Accra Region.It targetsto reach more schools and communities in other parts of the country by August, this year, under an ongoing pilot extension programme.

The designers, partners and prospective implementers believe that by the time all field trialson the INSPOCCE project are completed, lessons learnt will have enhanced their chances of having to convince policy makers to consider incorporating the project into the basic school curriculum so as to help bring about the needed attitudinal changes in students, families and communities regarding clean-cooking solutions and household energy conservation practices.

Some seventeen officers of GACC and their collaborators, including the Curriculum Research and Development Division (CRDD) of GES, met recently at the GES Headquarters in Accra to review the progress of work on the INSPOCCE project with Mrs. Felicia Boakye-Yiadom, the Director of CRDD and acting Deputy Director-General of GES, as chairperson.

To make a shift from traditional cook-stove technology to a clean-cooking technology as a step towards protecting the environment and human health, a broad range of innovative cook-stoves, such as rocket cook-stoves, forced air stoves, Gasifier stoves, improved charcoal stoves, alcohol stoves, biogas stoves, electric stoves, LPG stoves, plancha stoves, solar stoves, panel solar cookers, box solar cookers and parabolic solar cookers with their fuel solutions like raw biomass, charcoal, ethanol, biogas, hydro-power, solar energy, wind and LPG,are being designed under INSPOCCE for the possible integration into the basic school curriculum.

It is, however, interesting to learn that of about 302 existing improved cook-stoves, only a few are available on the Ghanaian market as the INSPOCCE Peer Educators’ Session Manual (n.d.a) also thinks that the use of clean-cooking technologypromotes efficient combustion and reduces the concentrations of particulate matterof burnt fuels in the atmosphere.

There is the need for us to contribute to the strengthening of all policies, laws and plans, including the Ghana National Climate Change Policy, Renewable Energy Law, National Energy Plan, Ghana Shared Growth and Development Agenda II, Ghana Sustainable Energy for All, National Policy of LPG Promotion and the National Electrification Scheme, so as to make them more responsive to our renewable energy requirements as a country.

By Anthony Kwaku Amoah

The writer is an educationist and public relations officer of Ghana Education Service.

E-mail: [email protected][email protected]

TALKING DRUM: A stupid move in Banda Ahenkro!

By | Features | No Comments

Banda traditional leaders have expressed unhappiness about the situation

One could not have had a better understanding of the Nigerian proverb which says that ‘stupidity is the lover of ignorance’ than the crass foolhardiness exhibited by a group in Banda Ahenkro in the Brong Ahafo Region.

The group, Concerned Members of Banda Ahenkro, had pasted on the walls of schools and other buildings demanding that non-indigenes leave their district with immediate effect. Failure to leave would mean anything atrocious could happen to such stubborn non-indigenes.

The aggrieved, unknown, and coward Banda Ahenkro thugs claim the non-indigenes have taken over their jobs. Hence, their call for them to leave their area. Subsequently, the ‘strangers’ escaping for safety left the schools and the hospitals among others for the embittered residents to take over.

Indeed, this can only happen in Ghana. Here, we see all the good things out there but we end up copying only the wrong. “If you do not leave this district [Banda Ahenkro] then we cannot guarantee your safety here. What is happening to strangers in South Africa will happen to you,” reads a portion of the aggrieved members’ letter.

You live in Banda Ahenkro and by God’s grace, you have access to electricity and internet and you watch and read happenings in South Africa. That’s fine. So, you did not see the beauty of South Africa? You did not see why many people across Africa troop to make a living in South Africa but saw the stupidity of some few people terrorising innocent persons?

This is the plain truth we must tell those cowards threating lives in Banda Ahenkro. They had access to a computer to type their warning letter but they could not reason enough to similarly write letters to apply for jobs.

When I completed the then Junior Secondary School in 2003, my Father told me I could go to his village and teach. That, he would speak to the headmaster of a government basic school there to give me the opportunity. The village by name Daadom in the Brong Ahafo region had its school lacking teachers.

In the morning, I would say goodbye to my parents as I headed to the classroom while they also prepared for the farm. As well, in 2006, after I completed Sunyani Secondary School, I wrote a basket full of application letters to basic schools in the Sunyani municipality seeking a humble position as a teacher.

God being so good, I had the chance to teach at the Wesley Preparatory and Junior High School. These two pupil-teaching aside, I have once sold chewing sticks and worked as a cobbler [shoemaker] together with my childhood friend, Lawrence Duah, who has now sought academic asylum in the United States. This is how we have struggled our path through where we find ourselves now. Not long ago, a lady friend asked whether I had been to the farm before. I laughed.

A street of Banda

Solomon has extensively worked tilling the soil with his parents and sisters in planting cocoa and foodstuffs. In all these, no one hatched the idea of threatening the lives of non-indigenes of Sunyani for ‘taking over our jobs.’ Whether it was pupil-teaching, farming, selling of chewing sticks or roving up and down as a cobbler, it was a way of life. A way to survive the demands of life and push forward for a better tomorrow.

Are the Concerned Members of Banda Ahenkro saying they cannot farm in their district because non-indigenes have taken over their lands? Is it the case that none of these people cannot be cobblers? They cannot be electricians, plumbers, tailors, hairdressers and barbers? They cannot be shopkeepers or sales persons? Indeed, what they have exhibited to the whole of Ghana affirms that common sense is the most expensive commodity to some Ghanaians.

If the people of the Greater Accra Region are to launch a similar threats of attack on non-indigenes here because we have taken over their jobs, not even our president would be spared. Certainly, we would have to relocate the Flagstaff House to the Eastern Region.

The chiefs of Banda Ahenkro have distanced themselves from being part of the aggrieved members. They are, therefore, calling on the police and other security operatives to hunt these nefarious people from their hideouts and make them face the law. Impressive!

However, I am more thrilled with a section of the Banda Ahenkro youth who came out not to only distance themselves of the threats but gave ultimatum for the thugs to come out and confess. Failure of it, they say they will cause the wrath of their gods on these lawbreakers.

If our securities services are unable to arrest anyone in connection with the Banda Ahenkro threats, then I will support the call for the gods’ intervention. Ace investigative journalist, Anas Aremeyaw Anas was not far from the truth when he opined that extreme diseases call for extreme remedies.

By Solomon Mensah

The writer is a broadcast journalist with 3FM 92.7. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect 3FM’s editorial policy.

Email: [email protected]

Notes from the Ghanaman File: Of the Media and the Number Game

By | Features | No Comments

Watchers of Ghana’s political dispensation can’t but agree that the media’s role and influence serve as a clear gauge of the strides we have made. Chairman Rawlings didn’t open up to the media so we have in our history a period of what is called the Culture of silence. Ghanaians were made to ‘see no evil, hear no evil and were forbidden from speaking any evil’. As they say, all the men, including those in the media had turned into women. (Please tell the gender advocates not to misconstrue this). 

When Chairman Rawlings became President Rawlings from January 7, 1993 nothing changed. The Government’s and governance issues seemed a forbidden discourse for the media. Those were the days rather when the criminal libel law was activated to throw some journalists including the Kweku Baako’s, Kwesi Pratt’s and my own GIJ mate Hon. Kwesi Biney into jail. In those days, media representatives from only the four state media organizations of the ‘People’s Daily Graphic as it was called then, The Ghanaian Times, GBC and the Ghana News Agency were allowed to cover the presidency at the old colonial castle at Osu.

Thankfully, as the good book says; …and it came to pass that the Rawlings era gave way to the President Kufour era which saw the criminal libel law expunged from our books. For the first time in two decades, journalists got the platform to speak directly to the President. Those were the days when a certain ‘Dr Asemfoforo’ who wasn’t a journalist  could openly confront the president of the republic in an open forum.

Professor Ata Mills also upheld the new culture of engaging the media and the public. The media had built confidence from the Kufuor presidency and got further emboldened during the Prof Mills time and indeed had even been criticized for some excesses. Some foreign nationals in Ghana have sometimes wondered how we could allow our media so much room to go to some of the extents they can go. Indeed, President Mahama’s government too allowed more room for the media to work unfettered and had to endure some very hard punches.

Our radio and TV stations, who allow so called ‘serial callers’, who are mostly political party supporters  to be part of their programming have helped to expand the frontiers of the national and political discourse. Worse of all is the advent of social media which has totally broken down all the barriers of what is news is or not. Citzens journalism is the new dispensation which has made the task of politicians very daunting.

Last week, President Akufo-Addo did a final list of his Ministers and their deputies which came 110 and the media, including the citizen journalists and political commentators went wild asking why a country of 27 million or so citizens need that many number of political heads for its Ministries. Trending on social media was a list of countries with their populations and the number Ministers and the jury was out there that Ghana would top the table after the vetting and approval of these Ministers by our parliament.

Apart from the Information Minister coming out to do what he is paid to do by explaining the rationale, His Excellency Himself (did I hear that the President is uncomfortable with this?) waded in to explain his reasons to the media.

In fact, this is the essence of this article. Haven’t the Ghanaian media come a long way? That, inspite of having a Minister in charge of Government’s business of informing the populace of the President and his Government’s plans and so on, and also with a presidential spokesperson at the presidency, the President  must engage the media to explain himself connotes a powerful media and citizenry.

President Akufo-Addo has also taken the media engagement to another level.The president, right from his swearing-in has engaged the media all the way. From introducing his backroom staff to the appointment of Ministers, and their Deputies, the media has been briefed personally by himself. Probably, its one of the reasons why critics are asking why the job of the Information Ministry was not collapsed or rather combined with the Communication Ministry.

The president however, insists that he needs the number of Ministries and Ministers to carry out his gargantuan vision to achieve his mandate for this country. Indeed, questions will continue to be asked about the numbers and whether the same targets by the president can or cannot be achieved by a smaller number. But the president says, Ghanaians should wait and judge his action in four years. Time will tell.

By Kojo Ackaah-Kwarteng

Head of Station, Onua 95.1

The 110 Ministers -The bloated facts

By | Features, Politics | No Comments

Some have called it ‘bloated,’ others, ‘ineffective,’ some ‘senseless act’ and even some have tried to turn the popular phrase ‘incompetence’ back to the NPP. Why? For the fact that President Akufo-Addo has appointed 110 ministers and deputies.

The argument has been tensed and skewed laced with insults and denigration. The NDC has taken a field day of the situation and are seriously exploiting it; some academicians are not happy and have come hard on the government, some think-tanks are up on the beat and even some NPP members are not happy with the development.

In all these, people have argued from the legal point quoting Article 78 (2) of the Constitution extensively. Once the legal thing has been taken up, I want to argue from another point. Though the number looks big, the arguments have not been so factual. Possibly, these facts have been bloated.

Bloated Fact Number One – ‘Elephant-sized’ Ministers

This is not the first time and probably will never be the first time appointment of government ministers is bloated. Since the overthrow of Kwame Nkrumah who according to records, ended his term with about 41 ministers, no democratically elected government has stayed within that and the numbers keeps on increasing every now and then. So bloating of ministers didn’t start in Nana Addo’s time. Trust me, we may get to a point when a government may be bigger than this unless there is an amendment to the Constitution.

Bloated Fact Number Two – Damage to Public Purse

Nana Addo knew what he was about when he submitted a budget which indicated that though we shall rake in some GH¢44 billion, we shall spend some GH¢58 billion creating a deficit of some GH¢13 billion. Before coming out with these figures, the government had taken into consideration the fact that 110 ministers would be in office for take-off and all that was necessary to be done had been taken into consideration, hence for those who argue that, it will be a waste on the public purse, maybe they should turn back and look at the budget. Until the budget has not catered for these, then we can agree with them on that score.

Bloated Fact Number Three – Effectiveness vs Efficiency

Ghanaians gave Nana Addo a resounding victory based on promises made and which is now become a social contract between the two. The man believes he can achieve effectiveness with the numbers. And let us not confuse effectiveness with efficiency.  Effectiveness is doing things which get you closer to your objectives and Efficiency is performing a given task in most economical manner. Leadership training will tell you being Efficient without Effectiveness is busyness. So Nana Addo believes what he can do is more important than how he does it. So let’s allow him to do the right thing.

The Fact – Early Days Yet

Come January or February next year, the President will be in Parliament to tell Ghanaians how he has been able to achieve his vision and/or how far his direction for the achievement of the vision for the nation for which he brought in 110 ministers is; there and then, we all will applaud and/or criticize.

The Fact – Wake Up Call

This becomes a wake-up call for anybody who finds himself in Nana Addo’s 110 to understand that, out of over 25 million qualified Ghanaians, you were chosen and Ghanaians demand nothing less than effectiveness.

Advice to Hamid

The Minister of Information seems to be getting a bit angry weary. His recent interviews on the subject seem to suggest that some media personnel are trying to ‘fan’ some unforeseen ‘flames.’ Honourable Mustapha, take heart for more than these will come up. In fact, you might not have met your first interviewer whose questions from A-Z are nothing but either ‘stupid’ or near ‘stupidity’

By Kwame Apau|Ag. Executive Director of PIPA| A Communications Expert and Lecturer