The Catholic Diocese of Navrongo-Bolgatanga has launched a project, dubbed: “Sahel Peace Initiative” to contribute to preventing conflicts and promoting peaceful coexistence in the Upper East Region and its environs.
The project, with financial support from the Catholic Relief Service (CRS), would be implemented in the Bawku and Bolgatanga municipalities and the Kassena-Nankana West District.
Its main objective is to help eliminate all underlining causes of conflicts and violence in the region.
It also aims at preventing the ongoing extremism and disturbances among the youth in the Sahelian countries from spilling over into Ghana, which would be done through engagement with identifiable youth groups.
The initiative would be carried out in collaboration with stakeholders including the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE).
The project launch brought together youth groups from different ethnic backgrounds, traditionalists, Christians and Muslims.
Mr David Atedewe Pwayidi, the Project Manager for Migration and Youth Development, CRS, said history had shown that the youth were often used to perpetuate conflicts and violence, particularly in the northern parts.
That informed his outfit’s decision to collaborate with the Navrongo-Bolgatanga Diocesan Youth Council (NABODYC), which the Church had tasked to implement the project with other key stakeholders, he said.
Mr Pwayidi urged the youth groups to be ambassadors of peace in their respective communities saying the CRS and NABODYC would support them to venture into joint community development projects.
He said the Upper East Region, some areas in the northern sector of Ghana and La Cote D’Ivoire, and some Sahelian countries including Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger are benefitting from the project.
Reverend Father Clement Ajongba, the Diocesan Youth Council Chaplain, said as part of the implementation strategies, persons with disability among other youth groups would be engaged on peace building initiatives.
He said it would encourage them to undertake joint community service projects to promote social cohesion and interactions among the various diverse youth groups to ensure peaceful co-existence.
Mr Daniel Baya Laar, the Bawku Municipal Director of the NCCE, commended the Navrongo-Bolgatanga Diocese and the CRS for the initiative and said peace was paramount to development, hence the need to institutionalise Community Conflict Management Teams as part of strategies to aid the project implementation.
Zug-Raan, Naba Asigri Abugrago Azoka II, the Paramount Chief of the Bawku Traditional Area, cited drug abuse among the youth as a contributory factor to most violence and conflicts in the area.
He, therefore, appealed to the implementers to make that problem a priority in the project implementation.