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[afro-nets] Ghana gets a half billion - will this improve MDGs? (2)

  • From: "Niagia Santuah" <nsantuah@pcaccra.org>
  • Date: Thu, 10 Aug 2006 11:15:44 +0000

Ghana gets a half billion - will this improve MDGs? (2)

The MCA may very well be yet another manifestation of a predator system renewing its myths to send the prey on a wild goose chase. You may as far back as you wish: unfair batter trade, slavery, colonisation, SAPs, ERPs, HIPC, PRS, MCA. What's the name of the next one? When one myth goes out of use another is created but developing countries just read the lines they never read in between them.

With respect to the funding for poverty alleviation under the MCA, a lot of debate preceded the signing of the agreement and heated debate is still going on not just by ordinary people but in the media and in Parliament. Now there is growing concern that political interests and other considerations influenced the selection of the beneficiary communities (districts).

First the issue has to do with how the districts were selected and then what districts were actually included. The districts with absolute poverty that need aid of this nature most are those in the three northerly regions of Ghana. There three regions have an unenviable colonial history. Home to the country's strongly built people they bore the brunt of slavery as they were the choice for slave raiders. After the abolition of the slave trade they became the target for British colonial policy of exploitation which effectively denied them education beyond a certain level. Instead people from the three poorest regions of Ghana were assigned the role of supplying the needed manual labour in the mines and plantations in southern Ghana.

50 years after independence not only has there not been a development plan to bridge the gaping historical and structural gap between northern and southern Ghana, but calculated urban-biased colonial policies that impoverished the north have apparently crystallized into a state policy that is being religiously pursued without the least compunction. The MCA has been signed within the same context.

The poverty situation in northern Ghana was used to justify Ghana's qualification for funding under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries initiative (HIPC). A predetermined formula for distributing the funds was proposed but when the funds arrived the formula was clandestinely changed to the great disadvantage of northern Ghana.

It remains to be seen if Ghana can meet the MDGs if some communities notably in northern Ghana are still recording child mortality in the 200s/1000 live births against the national figure of 111/1000 live births. (under-five mortality in the Greater Accra region is 75/1000 live births as compared to the scandalously high figure of 208/1000 in the Upper West in northern Ghana.

The government's anti-north, anti-rural agenda is unlikely to promote the achievement of the MDGs and alleviate poverty among the poorest people.

Santuah Niagia, Accra