The emergence of extremist activities and Jihadist groups in the Sahel region, especially Burkina Faso, in the past few years poses a major threat to border communities in the Upper East Region.
Persons living in the border communities, such as the youth who are vulnerable, are sometimes recruited by extremist organisations to perpetrate their violent activities.
Since the youth in particular who are living in border towns are unemployed, they easily become susceptible to influence by extremist groups and are also radicalised to join them in their operations for their parochial interest.
To positively respond to this threat, Star Ghana Foundation, with funding from the International Organisation of Migration (IOM), in November 2022, introduced a community project to residents in Paga, Kulungugu and Pusiga.
It was followed by discussions on a number of small-scale livelihood projects proposed as part of the Community Livelihoods Enhancement Project.
The community livelihood enhancement project is complementing the newly introduced cohesion project by providing targeted small-scale livelihood support to help build community resilience, by reducing economic inequalities and drivers that make sections of the population vulnerable to radicalisation and recruitment by violent extremist organisations.
The two projects relate in a unique way and are both geared towards contributing to building the resilience of border communities against violent extremism and other border security threats.
Additionally, the cohesion project seeks to promote community cohesion and their participation in their own security, by providing inclusive spaces for dialogue and collaboration between community members and border security agencies.
Gerald Ataogye (2nd from right), DCE for Kassena Nankana West, being assisted by Nnamdi Iwuora (middle) to cut the tape to inaugurate one of the gardens
The projects have provided fenced gardens for at least 90 direct beneficiaries across the three communities, 10 mechanised boreholes fitted with generators, 24 water pumping machines with corresponding water hoses of 100 yards each.
The rest are two bags of fertiliser for each of the beneficiaries, seeds (pepper, tomatoes and onions) for each of the persons benefitting from the project, skills training in modernised agriculture and farm preservation methods among others.
At separate ceremonies to officially hand over the projects in the beneficiary communities, the Executive Director of the foundation, Ibrahim-Tanko Amidu, urged the district assemblies to consider extending electricity to the farm sites as a more reliable and cheaper source of power for the boreholes.
He said “as the first call for the maintenance of the boreholes, maintenance committees have been formed to take care of the boreholes”, stressing “these committees will ensure regular checks and maintenance of the boreholes”.
He thanked all persons who played diverse roles for their immense support towards the successful implementation of the project, saying “I would like to extend our gratitude to the IOM for securing the funding and their partnership for this project.”
“It is my hope that we will all play our respective roles to ensure that the projects are sustained to deliver on the purpose for which they were provided,” he stated.
One of the mechanised boreholes
Nnamdi Iwuora, a Senior Programme Officer, IOM
A Senior Programme Manager, IOM, Nnamdi Iwuora, said the project formed part of their strategy agreed with the Government of Ghana to support the border line in northern Ghana.
He stated that the strategy included the renovation of six border posts, digitisation of information management at the border posts, border community engagement, construction of WASH facilities, regional cooperation and crisis response.
He noted that the cohesion project had been well-received by the community members and expressed optimism that it would impact positively on the lives of the beneficiary individuals and the communities as a whole.
He urged the beneficiary individuals to make good use of the facilities provided to them as part of the project to transform their lives and to develop their communities.
He reaffirmed IOM’s commitment to support government in the wake of the happenings in the Sahel region, to prevent a spillover of the excesses of the extremist attacks in the country, stressing “IOM will always come on board to address some of the challenges confronting border communities to bring relief to the local people”.
Gerald Ataogye, the DCE for Kassena Nankana West
The District Chief Executive (DCE) for the Kassena Nankana West District, Gerard Ataogye, thanked IOM for securing the needed funding for the execution of the project by Star Ghana Foundation.
He noted; “this life-changing project will go a long way to improve the living conditions of the beneficiary individuals”, and further urged the beneficiaries to work hard to justify the huge funds invested in the project.
For his part, the Director of Agriculture for the Pusiga District, Chanaga Simon, welcomed the project into the district with the hope that it would help better the lot of the farmers.
He stressed that “as a district, we are optimistic that the IOM will continue to undertake more projects and interventions to improve the lives of residents living in the border communities in the district”.
In an interview with some of the beneficiaries, they pledged to make judicious use of the project to particularly contribute to food production to feed the growing population and to earn extra income to care for some of their basic needs.