The Ghana Social Opportunities Project (GSOP) has rehabilitated 67 dams and dugouts in the Upper East Region to support poor rural farmers to undertake dry season farming to improve food security in the region.
The rehabilitation of the dams, which falls under the labour intensive public works (LIPW) component of the GSOP, is being funded by the Government of Ghana and the World Bank.
The GSOP began in the Upper East Region in 2011, while the LIPW component is being undertaken through the various district assemblies, with facilitation and technical support from the Bolgatanga Regional Coordinating Office (BRCO) of the GSOP.
Some of the rehabilitated dams are located at Kayilo and Asunia, both in the Kassena-Nankana West District.
Briefing the media in Bolgatanga after a visit to the project sites, the Upper East Regional Coordinator of the GSOP, Mrs Adwoa Asotia-Boakye, indicated that almost all the activities which took place at the dam sites “lend themselves to the use of labour intensive methods of construction and this makes it possible to engage the unskilled workforce from rural communities to undertake the works and earn some cash”.
She further explained that “the project sets out to maximise local employment, while rehabilitating productive infrastructure assets which have the potential to generate local secondary employment effects and protect households and communities against external shocks”.
She stated that apart from the community members being temporarily employed and earning cash, the secondary benefits included the use of the dams for dry season farming, provision of water for livestock watering, building and maintenance of local housing structures, among others.
“Through the implementation of the dam and dugout sub-projects, for instance, 18,458 extremely poor people have been engaged and they have earned a total of GH¢7,749,026 in wages over the past four years,” she added.
According to her, the project had also engaged over 42,349 unskilled people from rural communities in the region to rehabilitate feeder roads to improve access, dams and dugouts, schools and clinics, as well as climate change mitigation interventions such as reafforestation, the establishment of plantations of fruit trees and other woodlots.
She mentioned some of the measures put in place to achieve results to include the implementation of social accountability and grievance redress mechanisms, quality works supervision, an electronic payment system to enhance delivery and monitoring of payments to beneficiaries.
The Upper East Region falls within the Sudan Savanna zone which is characterised by “a unimodal rainfall regime” lasting five to six months and a long dry season period of six to seven months.
The people are predominantly farmers and household food security becomes a major problem due to the unfavourable climatic conditions and low soil fertility.
The situation has compelled many deprived homes in rural areas of the region to adopt a feeding calendar that protects them against possible hunger.
For instance, between September and January, some households are able to feed themselvdes three times a day, while between March and June, they are able to feed themselves twice daily and from July to August once in a day.
In some households, they are not able to feed themselves because food is simply not available.