Charles Abani (4th from right), the UN Resident Coordinator to Ghana, being assisted by Dr Angela Lusigi (right), the UNDP Resident Representative, and Shani Alhassan Shaibu (2nd from right), the ­­­Northern Regional Minister, to launch the project
Charles Abani (4th from right), the UN Resident Coordinator to Ghana, being assisted by Dr Angela Lusigi (right), the UNDP Resident Representative, and Shani Alhassan Shaibu (2nd from right), the ­­­Northern Regional Minister, to launch the project
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Peacebuilding, social cohesion project launched in Tamale

A project aimed at enhancing social cohesion and social contract through the empowerment of women and the youth in the North East, Upper West and Upper East regions has been launched in Tamale.

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Dubbed "Peacebuilding Fund Project", it seeks to prevent and address the root causes of localised and spillover conflicts, as well as vulnerabilities to violent extremism.

Specifically, it seeks to engage local governance institutions, state and non-state actors, women and the youth in target communities to achieve inclusive quality services, resilience to conflict triggers and meaningful participation in peacebuilding.

The two-year project is being jointly implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the National Peace Council (NPC) and local government authorities with funding support from the United Nations Peace Building Fund.

Launch

Launching the project, the United Nations (UN) Resident Coordinator to Ghana, Charles Abani, said the project had come at the right time as the nation geared towards the crucial general election in December, this year.

He explained that the project would be implemented in eight districts in the beneficiary regions where lingering localised conflicts and potential security threats would be addressed to promote peace before, during and after the election.

Given the vulnerability of northern Ghana to potential terrorist threats and other local conflicts, he said the intervention would address the needs of women and the youth who were often severely affected in conflict situations.

"The insecurity issues in the northern borders, particularly Burkina Faso and Mali, have a direct impact on this country, so we need to equip our youth and women with the necessary knowledge that will prevent them from being persuaded into such activities," Mr Abani said.

He also expressed concern about the proliferation of locally manufactured arms in conflict-prone areas and called on authorities to clamp down on the use of such arms to curb the conflicts.

Empowerment

For her part, the Resident Representative of the UNDP, Dr Angela Lusigi, said the fight against violent extremism required much effort in empowering and building the capacity of women and the youth because they were the most vulnerable to conflicts in society.

She stated that recent developments in some parts of the north and various hotspots across the country pointed to a rise in localised conflicts and insecurity, which had increased vulnerability to radicalisation and spillovers from neighbouring countries.

"While Ghana can be proud of its track record as a mainly peaceful and stable country, it is not immune to the troubling developments around us," she added.

Dr Lugusi explained that the project would work to promote participatory local governance and inclusive conflict resolution mechanisms with traditional and religious leaders, while facilitating dialogue between youth and women groups with political parties.

"We have placed youth and women at the centre of all our work and we are committed to supporting the inclusion of the youth and women in decision-making, peace building and addressing youth unemployment through green value chains," she added.

Decision-making

In his remarks, the Country Representative of the UNFPA, Dr Wilfred Ochan, stated that the project had come to complement their efforts that focused on issues of women and youth empowerment and participation in decision-making in society.

While advising the beneficiary districts to embrace the education and opportunities that the project would focus on, he called on all to refrain from acts that could destabilise the prevailing peace of the country, particularly as the nation went to the polls in December.

The Northern Regional Minister, Shani Alhassan Shaibu, commended the UNDP, the UNFPA and the various partners for the intervention and pledged his commitment towards its successful implementation.

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