Six regions, predominately in the north, with 48 Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) would soon benefit from the Gulf of Guinea Northern Regions Social Cohesion (SOCO) projects.
On Wednesday, October 25, 2023 the Vice President, Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia broke ground for the commencement of work on all 582 projects under the SOCO.
The symbolic ground-breaking ceremony colorfully occurred at the palace of the Overlord of Dagbon, His Majesty Yaa Naa Abukari Mahama II.
At a cost of $150 million, secured by the government from the World Bank, the projects are to address some key emerging and recurring challenges in the northern part of Ghana.
The SOCO Project, according to officials of the Ministry of Local Government, Decentralisation and Rural Development has been designed to address the effects of the spillover of conflicts and extremism in the Sahel Region.
The project is also to reduce vulnerability because of exposure to the impacts of climate change, strengthen local institutions, improve economic opportunities and build public trust.
The beneficiary regions and districts have been carefully selected, based on the Vulnerability Index Criteria: exposure to security risk, climate vulnerability, poverty incidence and unemployment rate.
The beneficiary districts under the USD 150 million credit facility project include Northern: eight (8) district assemblies; North East: six (6) district assemblies; Upper East: all fifteen (15) district assemblies; Upper West: all eleven (11) district assemblies; Savannah: four (4) district assemblies and Oti: four (4) district assemblies.
This year, which is Phase I, the project is expected to deliver socio-economic community-level climate-resilient infrastructure, skills development and training for youth and women, including the vulnerable.
The projects include the provision of water, the construction of school buildings and health facilities, the construction of markets, earth dams and other critical physical infrastructure.
Officials say the project has currently created jobs for 434 community facilitators (CFs) and other specialists.
The Vice President, Dr. Bawumia, speaking at the ceremony yesterday, emphasised that the government was mindful of the growing human and other security threats in the Sahel Region, arising from climate change and conflicts.
As such, it was taking appropriate measures to ensure it did not spread into the country by creating meaningful jobs and providing opportunities for economic, social and other means of improving lives.
“In this regard, the SOCO Project focuses mostly on border communities in these regions, where the citizenry, especially women and the youth, are exposed and susceptible to the threats of terrorism from the Sahel Region. Thus, the project focuses on dealing with issues relating to fragility, conflict and violence (FCV).
Vice President Bawumia charged all implementing agencies, at both national and sub-national levels, to remain committed to the implementation of this project to achieve the desired goals.
“I wish to emphasise that funds have been made available for the execution of all the sub-projects as earlier indicated by the Minister for Local Government and I wish to caution all implementing agencies, both at the national and sub-national levels, that implementation delays will not be tolerated.
“Indeed, we must ensure that the delivery of the project through the decentralized structures culminates in outcomes and impacts as contained in the Project Appraisal Document (PAD) and Project Implementation Manual (PIM).”
The Minister for Local Government, Decentralization, and Rural Development, Daniel K. Botwe, assured the Yaa Naa and other traditional leaders, as well as residents of the communities in which such projects exist, of his ministry’s desire to work closely with them to ensure smooth implementation.
He added that, “Your Majesty, the contractors and agencies have been specifically tasked to give you and all other stakeholders regular briefings on the progress of work and to keep you properly informed of any developments.”
The MP for Yendi, Farouk Aliu Mahama, thanked the government for the SOCO project, which he emphasised will bring “real development to the doorstep of the people, unlike in the past where we heard about developments in our communities but never saw them.”