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Regional News Mon, 31 May 2004

NALGA organises forum on District Assembly Common Fund

Nkoranza (B/A) May 31, GNA - Mr. Wigbert Dogoli, President of National Association of Local Authorities of Ghana (NALGA), said at the weekend that conflicts, disputes and illiteracy were major causes of poverty in the country.

He identified natural disasters, poor health and unfavourable norms and refusal to work as other causes. Mr. Dogoli was speaking at a forum at Nkoranza at which the impact of the District Assemblies common fund on the poverty reduction strategy was discussed.

About 100 Assembly Members, heads of departments, representatives of associations and traditional authorities attended. The NALGA, District Assemblies Common Fund (DACF) and the Netherlands Development Cooperation (SNV), an international NGO, jointly sponsored it.

In an address read for him Mr. Dogoli said in order to address poverty problems among the people, the Ghana Poverty Reduction Strategy Programme (GPRSP) had proposed district development themes such as infrastructure development, modernized agricultural production methods, good governance and private sector development to enable the people to improve their living standards.

When statistics were taken in 1999, about the poverty reduction strategy, it came to light that more than 40 percent of the Ghanaian population were living in poverty and that the people of the Upper West, Upper East and the Northern Regions were the worst hit.

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Mr. Emmanuel Danso, an official of the Common Fund Administration explained that the forum was also aimed at ensuring that the common fund allocated to the District Assemblies were judiciously utilized to benefit the people.

He said it was proper that Assembly Members were constantly called to meetings to approve proposed projects initiated under the common fund to ensure that the projects met the priority needs of the people and to avoid waste of resources.

Mr. Sam Okine of SNV said the NGO, which has operated in the country for 12 years, had been supporting local organizations through capacity building and that government organizations, NGOs, as well as private sector organizations benefited from their package.

He said the NGO was determined to help District Assemblies to reduce poverty among the people since an improvement in the living standards would accelerate development in the communities.

Mr. Kwame Ampofo-Twumasi, DCE, in a welcoming address described the forum as very relevant as the participants would be better informed to educate their people about how the common fund was disbursed and how the Assemblies also utilized it without any discrimination.

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He noted that the common fund had promoted the development of Nkoranza and mentioned the provision of school blocks, clinics, water and sanitation facilities, roads, sponsorship for teacher trainees and students in the second-cycle and tertiary institutions.

Mr. Twumasi-Ampofo called on the Government to raise the common fund allocation from five percent to seven-and-a-half percent to enable the Assemblies to meet challenges.

He also suggested the creation of a fund like the programme of action to mitigate the social cost of adjustment (PAMSCAD) to support the Assemblies in their development programmes.

The Presiding member of the Nkoranza District Assembly, Mr. Adjei Yeboah, commended the participants for their contributions and asked them to impart the knowledge they had acquired to their people.

Source: GNA