posted by RUMNET on July 7, 2012

everal decades after Ghana’s independence, the Northern Region is still counted as one of the very deprived regions in the country.

Poverty is still endemic and the vagaries of the weather still pose perennial difficulties for the people and their communities.

Literacy statistics are still depressing, especially for women, and youth unemployment is severe, a perceived source of instability and insecurity in many Northern communities.

This has resulted in the youth, especially girls, migrating to the south in search of greener pastures.

In the “Overseas” community of Tantala located in the West Mamprusi District, however, members of the Tuona Paga (Women) Coalition have not resigned themselves to their fate, but have taken their destiny into their own hands to change their lives for the better.

Tuona, in Mampruli, means people living in remote communities or across rivers.

The (Overseas” area has earned its name because it is cut off from civilization during the rainy season when floods occur.

The 50- member Coalition, which is made up of 25 mothers and their 25 daughters, is undertaking an Environment and Alternative Sustainable Livelihood Project, with funding from the Ghana Environmental Management Project (GEMP).

All the 25 daughters had one time or the other migrated down south to work as head porters, popularly known as “Kayayee.”

The objective of GEMP, a CIDA funded project, is to strengthen Ghanaian institutions and rural communities to enable them reverse land degradation and desertification trends in the Northern, Upper East, and Upper West Regions of Ghana, and also to adopt sustainable land and water management systems that improve food security and reduce poverty.

It was on one early Saturday morning two members of the Northern Regional Environmental Management Committee (REMC), including Chief Alhassan I. Amadu, Regional Head of the National Population Council (NPC) and this writer, set off from Tamale to the “Overseas” area, with Mr. Abu Iddrisu, Regional Director of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as our chauffeur.

Our destination was Tantala and our mission, to monitor the activities carried out so far by the Tuona Women’s Coalition, a beneficiary of GEMP funding initiative. The Coalition received a grant of GH¢20,000 from GEMP to implement an Environment and Alternative Sustainable Livelihood Project in the Tantala community.