The Baptist Child Development Programme (BDCP), a non-governmental organisation that supports deprived communities, has disbursed over GH¢110,000 to some inhabitants of rural communities in the Northern Region who are benefiting from the Micro Enterprise Development (MED) programme.
The programme covers about 500 inhabitants of seven rural communities in the Tolon and Kumbungu districts.
It is to empower them to engage in farming and other economic activities in order to earn income to sustain their livelihoods and also reduce the incidence of poverty, which usually pushes young men and women in these areas to travel to the south in search of menial jobs.
More than half of the beneficiaries are women who are predominantly farmers and are also engaged in other income-generating activities such as petty trading and the processing of shea nut oil and groundnut oil.
The MED is sponsored by the Christian Children's Fund of Canada (CCFC), an international organisation working to improve the wellbeing of children in underserved communities.
The disbursement exercise began in Wantugu and continued in the other beneficiary communities of Kasuliyili, Cheshegu, Gupaneerigu, Lingbun Gundaa, Tolon and Gburimani.
Ghana News Headlines
For latest news in Ghana, visit Graphic Online news headlines page Ghana news page
It was a joyous occasion in Wantugu as men and women gathered to access the credit that would support them in the 2013 farming season.
One of the beneficiaries, Mma Alhassan Napari, said this was the second time she was accessing credit under the programme.
“Last year, I took over GH¢200 and used it to buy farming inputs to support my family to cultivate maize. I also used some of the money to buy shea nuts to produce oil, which I sell to make income,” she said, adding that she had since finished paying back the credit.
Mma Napari, who is a mother of 12, said life had been difficult for her and her husband due to the number of children they had.
She said seven of them were now grown and living independently, whilst the remaining were still in school.
In an interview, the Programmes Coordinator for the BCDP, Mr James Kinyakib Amadu, mentioned that the MED programme was launched in 2003 to improve living conditions in rural communities by empowering families to engage in viable economic activities.
“We want to make them economically independent and also use this programme to help them develop the habit of saving,” he said.
Mr Amadu added that the beneficiaries of the scheme had one year to repay their loans, by which time they would have harvested their crops and would be preparing for the next farming season.
“So far, the repayment has been very encouraging. Over 90 per cent of the beneficiaries pay back according to the payment schedule," he said, and noted that some of them were now demanding higher amounts to enable them expand their businesses.
The BCDP is an NGO that was established by the First Baptist Church in 2000. Since then, it has implemented several interventions with funding from the CCFC, to improve the wellbeing of children and families in its project communities.
The interventions have been in the areas of water and sanitation, hygiene, health and nutrition, education and micro-credit schemes.
By Nurudeen Salifu