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General News
BONABOTO-UK Protest letter to Blair 3/16/2007
Rt. Hon. Tony Blair
The Prime Minister
10 Downing Street
London SW1A 2AA

Dear Prime Minister
GHANA@50: THE STATE OF NORTHERN GHANA
The United Kingdom Branch of BONABOTO has learnt that the President of the Republic of Ghana, Mr John Kufour is on a 3 day state visit to the United Kingdom from 13th March 2007, by an invitation of Her Majesty the Queen.

BONABOTO-UK is a voluntary organisation of the peoples of Bolgatanga, Bongo and Talensi-Nabdam Districts of the Upper Region of Ghana.

The BONABOTO-UK therefore is writing to humbly request that you and the Government of the UK that while you dine and wine with the President of Ghana on his state to the UK, you should raise the underlined issues and concerns about the state of Northern Ghana 50 years after independence.

Demography

The Northern Ghana which comprises Northern region, Upper East region and the Upper West Region account for 20% of the national population and about 40% of the total land mass and 84.3% of the population is live in the rural areas.

Since independence in 1957, most areas in the Northern Ghana lacked basic infrastructure such roads, schools, hospitals, good drinking water and electricity.

Economy

It is heart breaking and sad to note that about 88% of the people from Northern Ghana (Northern region, Upper East region and the Upper West Region) live in poverty. According to the Ghana Living Standard Survey (GLSS 1999/2000) 7 out of 10, 8 out of 10 and 9 out of 10 are poor in Northern, Upper West and Upper East regions respectively.

The three Northern regions are overwhelmingly reliant on agriculture. It is the main occupation of 70% of the population. The few manufacturing industries established by the first President the late Dr Kwame Nkrumah after independence has been shut down deliberately by successive governments.

The Poverty situation in Northern Ghana is historically traceable to the British colonial government policies, which deliberately denied the Northern Ghana development for the purpose of reserving the North of Ghana as a source of cheap labour for the cocoa farms and mines in Southern Ghana.

Governments in Ghana after 1966 including the current NPP government led by Mr John Kufour, who could have pursued pragmatic policies and programmes with high patriotism and urgency to address in balance and injustice of the colonial legacy have failed to do so.

There are approximately six dependent people per economically active person in Northern Ghana compared to the UK where there is only 0.6 of a person dependent on each economically active person.

Education

The current educational standards and achievements in the Northern Ghana have gone from bad to worst. 60% of children over the age of 6 have never attended school, 55% of boys and 67% of girls. Also 64% of parents cannot afford to send their child to school. Further more 78% of adults over the age of 15 are illiterate

Until 1994, the whole of Northern Ghana had no university and the only one opened in recent times is starved of resources.

Health

Despite the introduction of the National Health Insurance Scheme by the Kufour led government, the health situation in Northern Ghana is nothing to write home about. The statistics of the health of the North of Ghana is shamefully bad.

There is only one doctor per every 30,000 people. During 2005/2006, 53.8% of the population reported having malaria. Only about 21% of women have access to family planning. Approximately 40% of women deliver children unsupervised and that about 220 in every 1000 women die during childbirth.

Institutional marginalisation of the North

The discrimination and marginalisation of people of Northern Ghana today has moved from bad to worst and the inequality gap has widened more and more.

While the three Northern regions (Northern, Upper East and Upper West regions) account for 20% the national population and 40% of the total land mass, allocation of national resources by successive governments of Ghana have not reflected this. For example:

Private Foreign Investment

The three Northern regions together mustered a mere 1% of private foreign investment inflow of US1.5 billion over the period 1994-1999 and the picture is even worst now.

District Assembly Common Fund

For the period of 1994-1996, the three Northern regions received the lowest allocation of District Assembly Common Fund. There is slight improvement but is still not better as compared to the rest of the country.

Highly Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Funds

The Ghana Poverty Reduction Strategy (GPRS) formula, which ranked the three Northern regions, the poorest and classified them in group A, stipulated that 48% of HICP funds should be disbursed to them. However, the Kufour led NPP government has over the years defied the dictates of the GPRS document in the distribution of HICP funds.

Before October 2002, the amount of HIPC funds available for disbursement through the various Districts Assemblies of Ghana throughout the country to finance poverty reduction projects was 117 billion cedis. Northern Ghana, which was entitled to 48% of the funds, had as low as 20.5%

Also in 2002/2003 the total number of HIPC funded projects in the country, according to SEND Foundation report (July2006) entitled “Where did Ghana’s HIPC Funds Go”, was 1,516. Out of which the three Northern regions combined together had just 17% of the projects. While Central region and Volta region had 11.6% and 11.7% respectively. This according to the GPRS was abysmally low and totally unacceptable.

Millennium Challenge Account (MCA)

It is sad again to note that not one district in both Upper East and Upper West regions has benefited from the MCA, even though those two regions are known to be poorest of poor regions in Ghana.

Presidential Special Initiative (PSI)

The Kufour led NPP government’s Presidential Special Initiatives in 2002, which were aimed at reducing poverty through the stimulation of private enterprise, improvement of productivity and creation of jobs did not reach the Upper East and Upper West regions and are still not there.

Further still according to a development economist, Professor Frances Steward of Oxford University “less that 3% of the entire country’s development projects are in Northern Ghana under the NPP government”

To conclude, BONABOTO-UK is calling on you and the British government, the Opposition parties and Her Majesty the Queen that while you wine and dine with President John Kufour on his state visit to the UK; there is an urgent need to bring pressure to bear upon the government of Ghana to begin to organise stakeholders’ conference in the three Northern regions to develop a blue print of a 10 year development plan or policy for the North of Ghana that will bridge the current development and inequality gap.

We specifically called on you to redress regional inequality development created by the colonial authorities by targeting development aid to Northern Ghana. It will be in line with your novel goals of the African Commission Report. Whatever contributions and pressure the British government can bring to bear on the Ghana government will contribute towards some fulfilment of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and Ghana’s development as a whole that the British government is so passionate about.

Thank you.

Yours sincerely

David Atugiya Secretary

Cc:

Deputy Prime Minister

Chancellor of the Exchequer

Opposition Parties

UK Members of Parliament

Secretary of State International Development

IMF

World Bank

Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC)

The Media

Ghana High Commission (UK)

The Common Wealth Secretariat Donor Agencies NGOS’ BONABOTO-Ghana Friends and supporters of Northern Ghana

Source:
David Atugiya

 
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