Border Communities At Risk Of Extremism

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Stakeholders at a forum in Bolgatanga have said unregulated transhumance and the recent instability in neighbouring countries put border communities in northern Ghana at risk of violent extremism and terrorism.

Transhumance is the seasonal movement of livestock from one grazing ground to another in search for available pastoral resources under the guidance of herders.

For instance, each year, due to the ecological situation in the Sub-Sahara Desert, there are always livestock movement from countries like Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso into countries including Ghana.

Alhaji Osman Abdel-Rahman, the Executive Director, Ghana Developing Communities Association (GDCA), a Non-Governmental Organisation, said those cycle movements, through the country’s porous borders, were unchecked and created issues within the border communities.

He called for the security forces to have workable systems in place to regulate movements and resolve border conflicts, while preventing extremist groups from entering the country, especially in northern Ghana.

These came to light at an evaluation workshop in Bolgatanga, organised by the GDCA on the implementation of the Reinforcing Cohesion in Northern Ghana through the Peaceful and Coherent Development of Agro-Pastoral Sector project.

The three months project, being piloted in five communities in the Bongo and Bawku West districts in the Upper East Region, was funded by the Foreign Commonwealth Development Office in the United Kingdom through the Acting for Life, France-based organisation.

Alhaji Abdel-Rahman acknowledged the significant contribution livestock movement had had on Ghana’s economy in terms of helping to meet the demands of meat, “however, Ghana needs to be wary of the instability in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger in recent years and develop short to long-term policies to regulate movement and secure the borders,” he added.

“Some of the things that the herders do in Ghana they cannot do in Burkina Faso, Mali or Togo because they have put in place very strict policies that are working and that is what Ghana needs to do and provide the needed logistics to enforce the directives,” he said.

Mr Martin Soyeh, Deputy Superintendent of Immigration, the Upper East Regional Public Relations Officer of the Ghana Immigration Service, said community involvement was key to fighting crime at the borders and called for sensitisation of  residents to support the security services to protect lives and property.

He proposed the formation of community watchdog committees to provide relevant information to the security agencies to act.

Mr Lukman Yussif, Project Coordinator, GDCA, said as part of the implementation strategies, five Village Savings and Loans Associations comprising 100 women and 120 mixed agro-processing groups were formed and trained on shea butter, rice, and groundnut processing, with each beneficiary given GH₵700.00 as start-up.

That, he added, was to improve the socio-economic situation of communities to  reduce their vulnerability to external actors.

 

 

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