Indeed there is no doubt that the present Government is in the process of fulfilling its promise of implementing the Savannah Accelerated Development Authority (SADA) as captured in its manifesto for the last electioneering campaign, that when Ghanaians especially those from the North gave it their mandate to rule it would start the implementation of SADA.
In fact that message went down well to convince people of the Northern descent and they voted massively for the National Democratic Congress (NDC) to form the present Government.
However, when the Government came into power and was dilly-dallying many people from the Northern parts of the country were becoming impatient and disillusioned. Civil society organizations such as SEND Ghana and Integrated Social Development Centre (ISODEC) emerged vigorously with advocacy messages reminding the Government of its promise to implement SADA.
At one of such advocacy forums organised by SEND Ghana in Bolgatanga, Upper East Region they advocated strongly that it was time the Bill that was before Parliament were passed into law to facilitate the implementation process.
When Parliament in August 2010 passed the Bill into law and received the President’s signature in September 2010 it attracted a lot of commendations from the people especially those of Northern descent. Bodies from the Northern Parts of the Country including Northern Development Forum (NDF) paid great tribute to the present Government for the passage of the Law.
Indeed it must be recollected that before the passage of the Bill, there was public outcry about the delay of the passage of the bill into law. Government as well as Members of Parliament were castigated verbally for the delay.
In fact government must be applauded for the move so far made to implement SADA. However, now that the Law has been passed what next? In fact it should be pointed out that for the successful implementation of the SADA there is the need for the Government to take the bull by the horns by setting up a sustainable source of funding for the programme.
It must be emphasized here that without a sustainable funding component, implementation of SADA would stall and this would have dire consequences on NDC during Election 2012.
The funding should not be donor driven or else it would defeat the purpose of establishing SADA. At a forum organized in Bolgatanga by SEND Ghana, participants stressed the need for the Government to set up a special tax system so as to attract sustainable funding for the implementation process.
It is very crucial for the Government to consider the views expressed by the participants at the forum so as to ensure the successful implementation of SADA
Other Civil Society organization including NDF; ISODEC; Foundation for Grass Roots Initiatives in Africa have expressed similar views of establishing sustainable funding for the programme.
Again the recruitment process into the programme should be based on competence, devoid of ethnicity, political and religious grounds. Dedication and honesty should also be important determining factors in the recruitment of staff processes.
Sight should not be lost of accountability and transparency during the implementation process. There is the need for civil society organisations to form civic coalition groups to periodically monitor the implementation process of SADA and make recommendations when the need arises.
There is no doubt that if SADA is successfully implemented it would help to close the developmental gap that exists between the North and South.
In fact the programme which has multi-purpose functions including construction of education facilities; health; roads and agriculture among other things would in no doubt reduce poverty in the area and curb the current rural urban drift.
Let the Government show more commitment to the implementation process. A successful implementation of the programme would give it much credibility since it would go down well in the history books of Ghana for posterity to see that it was the only Government that could turn out a feasible programme to bridge the North-South development gap.
The Project’s coverage areas in the three Northern Regions are the Northern, Upper East and Upper West and also the savannah areas of Brong Ahafo and Volta Regions. It is expected that when the Project is given special attention, it would help to reduce poverty and facilitate the adaptation to climatic change and ecological transformation of Northern Ghana.
It would create a circular road network that would connect the Upper West, Upper East and Northern Regions such that large fertile plains that lie in these Regions, would be opened up for brisk farming and economic activities. It would help to improve the deplorable nature of the Navrongo-Tumu-Wa road linking the Upper East and Upper West Regions.
The network of drainage canals that would be constructed to facilitate drip irrigation that would be owned by smallholder farmers would make it possible for the cultivation of cereals, fruits and vegetables all year round.
It would also bring about strong linkages with Sahelian countries such as Burkina Faso, Niger, Mali, and Northern Ivory Coast and this would open up a truly regional market for goods and services, with northern Ghana as a competitive supply and industrial hub.
It must be pointed out that the attempt at bridging the North and South developmental gap has been a long standing dream of many of the post-independent Governments of Ghana. There had been previous attempts – Northern Region Rural Integrated Project (NORRIP); Irrigation Company of Upper Region (ICOUR); Land Conservation & Small-Holder Rehabilitation Project (LACOSREP) and Farmers’ Services Company (FASCOM) – but all these failed to make the desired impact because of mismanagement. It is the hope of this Writer that SADA would not go the way of its predecessors.