The formulation and implementation of national development policies on a whole are not favouring the people of Northern Ghana Mr Stephen Yakubu, Upper East Regional Minister, has lamented.
“I have hammered on and will continue to highlight this until I begin to receive audience,” he said and added that “generic policies are made without recourse to specificities arising out of cultural, geographical and environmental differences.”
This, he said, had over the years failed to address the critical development challenges of the people in Northern Ghana to alleviate them from poverty, while illiteracy and disease continued to engulf them.
Speaking at a development partners’ meeting at Bolgatanga, organised by the Upper East Regional Coordinating Council with support from the United Nations Children Fund, Mr Yakubu bemoaned the worsening development gap between the North and South despite years of investment and called for collective approach to reverse the trend.
He said apart from government’s policies and programmes, Northern Ghana had been supported by development partners over the years with various interventions, however, the five regions of the North, particularly Upper East Region continued to lag.
“We still have schools where children study under trees, study without furniture and children study without computers and internet facilities. If we maintain the same approach, I am wondering about the fate of new interventions,” he said.
The Regional Minister, therefore, called for an overview of interventions being implemented in the region so far to identify the success, gaps, and challenges.
This would help stakeholders in the region to develop a regional development strategy that will strengthen collaboration and synergies among stakeholders and consider the cultural diversity of the people.
“It is not for nothing that the 1993 Constitution states that all development interventions or planning programmes must take cognisance of the diverse culture of the people. This is in recognition of the fact that even though we are one people we have our diversities, which ought to guide our policy direction,” he noted.
The Regional Minister explained that the region was classified into three development enclaves which needed different development approaches to tackle the issues affecting growth and development.
According to him development of a regional strategy will draw lessons from the Northern Development Authority’s strategy and serve as key to addressing the issues.
He said while the Eastern enclave comprised Bawku Municipal, Bawku West, Binduri, Garu, Tempane and Pusiga Districts and were noted to produce watermelon, onion, groundnut and cowpea, the Central enclave comprised Bolgatanga Municipal, Bolgatanga East, Bongo, Talensi and Nabdam Districts were noted to produce millet, basketry, leather, and smock.
He said the West which comprised Kassena-Nankana Builsa North Municipals, Kassena-Nankana West and Builsa South Districts had huge potentials to produce rice and vegetables and urged development partners to support District Assemblies to implement their medium-term development plans to address specific challenges in their locations.
“We should create an enabling environment to reverse the trend of North-South migration with the abundance of natural resources such as arable land, water resources, mineral resources including huge gold deposits, tourist sites among others,” he added.
The meeting brought together heads of department from the 15 Municipal and District Assemblies and development partners to share experiences and brainstorm on solutions to addressing the challenges facing the region.