Posted by: rumnet | July 9, 2012

GEMP Empowers “Overseas” Women To Sustain The Environment

GEMP Empowers “Overseas” Women To Sustain The Environment

 (Published in the July 2012 edition of the advocate) 

By Alhassan Imoru

EPA Regional Director inspecting beehives

Several decades after Ghana’s independence, the Northern Region is still counted as one of the very deprived regions in the country.

Poverty is still endemic and the vagaries of the weather still pose perennial difficulties for the people and their communities.

Literacy statistics are still depressing, especially for women, and youth unemployment is severe, a perceived source of instability and insecurity in many Northern communities.

This has resulted in the youth, especially girls, migrating to the south in search of greener pastures.

In the “Overseas” community of Tantala located in the West Mamprusi District, however, members of the Tuona Paga (Women) Coalition have not resigned themselves to their fate, but have taken their destiny into their own hands to change their lives for the better.

Tuona, in Mampruli, means people living in remote communities or across rivers.

The (Overseas” area has earned its name because it is cut off from civilization during the rainy season when floods occur.

The 50- member Coalition, which is made up of 25 mothers and their 25 daughters, is undertaking an Environment and Alternative Sustainable Livelihood Project, with funding from the Ghana Environmental Management Project (GEMP).

All the 25 daughters had one time or the other migrated down south to work as head porters, popularly known as “Kayayee.”

The objective of GEMP, a CIDA funded project, is to strengthen Ghanaian institutions and rural communities to enable them reverse land degradation and desertification trends in the Northern, Upper East, and Upper West Regions of Ghana, and also to adopt sustainable land and water management systems that improve food security and reduce poverty.

It was on one early Saturday morning two members of the Northern Regional Environmental Management Committee (REMC), including Chief Alhassan I. Amadu, Regional  Head of the National Population Council (NPC) and this writer, set off from Tamale to the “Overseas” area, with Mr. Abu Iddrisu, Regional Director of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as our chauffeur.

Our destination was Tantala and our mission, to monitor the activities carried out so far by the Tuona Women’s Coalition, a beneficiary of GEMP funding initiative. The Coalition received a grant of GH¢20,000 from GEMP to implement an Environment and Alternative Sustainable Livelihood Project in the Tantala community.

The grant was to support the women members and their daughters to do beekeeping and honey production as well as rearing of  small ruminants (goats, sheep and pigs) as a climate change and desertification impact adaptation.

The journey itself started on a smooth, asphalted road from Tamale to the West Mamprusi District capital, Walewale. Thereafter, we travelled on a dusty, bumpy, undulating road for several hours through relatively green vegetative cover, until we reached Kpasenkpe, one of the largest towns in the area.

From Kpasenkpe onwards, it was visible that some road construction work had started on that stretch, with so many bridges completed but yet to be filled with gravel, making driving very difficult.

On our arrival at Tantala, members of the Coalition were busy producing honey amidst singing. The Project Co-ordinator, Adishetu Ziibu, who is a professional Teacher, welcomed us after the usual courtesies.

Briefing the monitoring team, the Project Co-ordinator disclosed that the Coalition had so far produced 50 beehives and purchased equipment like protective clothing and wellington boots for distribution to its members.

The Co-ordinator later led the team to a grove outside the community to inspect some beehives already installed there from which members had made their first harvest of honey.

In a chat with members of the Coalition, it was disclosed that women in nearby communities had approached the Coalition for assistance to also start a similar venture in their communities, following the success story at Tantala.

This writer observed that in spite of the remoteness of the Tantala community, which is 120 Km away from Walewale, members of the  Tuona Women’s Coalition were evidently cheerful and happy with the livelihood project they were undertaking with support from GEMP.

Some of the daughters of the women members we talked to said now that they were engaged in honey production, they would never think of migrating to the south.

The Project Co-ordinator appealed to the EPA to expedite action on the Coalition’s  application for the release of the next tranche of the GEMP funding to ensure continuity of the project.

According to the Co-ordinator, members of the Coalition who were previously engaged in the sale of fuel wood and charcoal had now diverted their full attention to the alternative livelihood (honey) project, thanks to GEMP.

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