Pay attention to rural poor in Western Region -- NGOs

BY: Samuel K. Obour

The Western Region Development Network of NGOs (WERENGOs) has called on government to address the development needs of highly deprived communities in the region to ensure quality of life and access to development information.
At the first Western Regional Natural Resource and Environment Summit, the WERENGOs Coordinator, Mr Kwame Mensah, said it was sad to note that the people in region which was endowed with all the natural resources such as gold, manganese, bauxite, coal, iron ore, limestone, silica, glass sand, salt, timber, forests, wildlife, clay of various types and in recent times the oil and gas find and tourism should have its communities wallow in abject poverty.
He said the source of drinking water and access to information in most communities in the region was not acceptable and called for the provision of potable water for the people.
He said it was important to note that in spite of advances in modern technology, access to development communication was yet to reach the people in the rural communities.
He said public advocacy, which seeks to change public opinion or attitude and to prompt a change in behaviour and bring benefits for communities was missing because local radio or community radio had become a profit making venture in most communities.

He said NGOs in the region were therefore calling on the government to make available community radios to ensure development information was available and also help the people to prevent malaria, ensure sanitation and be abreast with current issues at the national level.

“It is crucial that local people are kept informed and up to date about important issues which will affect their livelihoods. People have a right to know about their roles, responsibilities and entitlements.”
“We are therefore calling on the National Communications Authority to hasten the allocation of frequencies for community radio within the region as community radio plays a key role in strengthening natural resource governance,” Mr Mensah said.
The coordinator said that was the only way government could extend and ensure stakeholder consultation at the local level and ensure communities in the region were well informed about laws and policies related to natural resources, particularly mining and logging.

Story by Moses Dotsey Aklorbortu, Takoradi