Friday, October 18, 2013

Develop Western Region: Ghana’s 1st Regional Human Report Advocates

Source – UN Information Centre, Accra

The maiden Western Region Human Development Report (HDR) has been launched, with a call on the residents and citizens of the region to join efforts toward implementing the key recommendations. It is Ghana’s first-ever regional HDR initiated and funded by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

The report, which has the theme ‘managing development opportunities for a secure future’ was produced by the UNDP in collaboration with the Western Regional Coordinating Council and the traditional leadership of the Region. 

It was jointly launched by the UN Resident Coordinator & UNDP Resident Representative, Ms. Ruby Sandhu-Rojon, the Western Regional Minister, Hon. Ebenezer K.T. Addo and the President of the Western Regional House of Chiefs, Osagyefo Kobina Enimil VI on Thursday, October 3, 2013 at Takoradi, Ghana.

“The report is consistent with the government’s development agenda, as it focuses on prudent macroeconomic management, employment creation, environmental sustainability, provision of health, education and utilities and poverty reduction”, noted the Western Regional Minister, Hon. Ebenezer K.T. Addo. It also “mirrors [government’s] commitments to sustainable and equitable development by confronting head-on, major challenges in climate change, gender disparities, labour, maternal health and sanitation”

The Western Region of Ghana is endowed with abundant natural resources but these have not been fully utilized to raise the incomes and improve the prospects and security of both current and future generations. “The low level of human development in the region is very worrying”, lamented Osagyefo Kobina Enimil VI. The report therefore comes in as one of the first steps for identifying the development challenges and potentials of the region. 

It focuses on key elements that affect human development in the region and how these are inter-connected. It also shows how institutions, capacities, and governance structures should change so that all citizens of the Region can progress. The report represents a tangible step towards amplifying the capabilities of the people of the region by creating opportunities that enable them to pursue the lives they value. Such an outcome will be especially timely for it will enable the WR to continue to make progress towards the 2015 targets for the Millennium Development Goals, and set the stage for human development beyond 2015. 

According to Ms. Ruby Sandhu-Rojon, “the purpose of the report is to stimulate debate on how resources can be used for development. It is also designed to provide a baseline of human development indicators for the region against which progress can be measured”.  That debate is essential and necessary to come up with practical strategies to improve the lives of the people and ensure human security in the region.  

The launch was witnessed by some 200 persons drawn from the Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies, the Western Regional House of Chiefs, the media, civil society organizations, development practitioners and the general public. 

The report comes on the heels of the discovery of oil and gas in commercial quantities in the Western Region. Sharing the Norwegian best practices and examples in exploiting oil and gas, Norway’s Ambassador to Ghana H.E. Hege Hertzberg encouraged Ghanaians to draw lessons from the Norwegian model – ’10 Oil Commandments’ – which are principles put in place some 30 years ago to provide the basis for government control of oil operations in that country. This, she noted, “will ensure that oil and gas revenues are spread evenly in the area of education and infrastructure, making oil a blessing rather than a curse”. 

The completion of the Western Region Human Development Report is not only a major milestone for UNDP but also for the Western Regional Coordinating Council, the Chiefs and people of Essikado, businesses, citizens, and academia. 

The report has since been subjected to stakeholder analysis and debate. A day after its launch, two media houses – Skyy Power Radio and Star TV – offered a live platform for citizen engagement on the content. The forum served as a first step in soliciting inputs for implementing the recommendations. The Chief Executive Officer of the Skyy Media Group, Mr. Wilson Arthur assured that “such citizen engagement will be held regularly to deepen the debate, to share the content of the report with the general public and to push for action on the part of duty bearers and others who have a role to play in implementing the recommendations”.   

A clear lesson from the report is that the Region’s prosperity will depend upon the skills, knowledge, and enterprise of every citizen and their willingness to collaborate for the greater good of all. Making sustained progress will require that all stakeholders place responsibilities ahead of entitlements, and emphasize human and social development rather than the narrow pursuits of income and status.

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