Government is to scale up the Alternative Livelihood Programme (ALP) to cover illegal miners in 14 districts in the four Regions of the North and three districts of the Eastern Region.
A total of 1,400 beneficiaries are being assessed for the selection in the scale up programme.
Hajia Alima Mahama, the Minister for Local Government and Rural Development, speaking at a press briefing to announce the graduation of beneficiaries of the programme, said government has invested GH¢2 million into the programme, which consist of assessment of the beneficiaries, enrolment, equipment and contract engagement with master craftsmen.
The purpose of the ALP is to provide decent work through creative projects within a safer environment, for socio-economic wellbeing and also ensure that, they gain employable skills and knowledge needed in shaping their lives and communities in a sustainable manner.
She said the philosophy behind the skill training component of the programme, is to promote decent work and economic opportunities for young people, who directly or indirectly engaged in illegal mining.
She said currently, 329 trainees out of the 500 in the institutional level training have been selected for graduation.
She said the beneficiaries, who were trained by the Department of Community Development acquired vocational skills like dressmaking, beauty culture, decoration, entrepreneurial skills, electrical installations, auto mechanics, plumbing, graphic design, welding and fabrication, building and construction, leather works and carpentry.
Hajia Mahama said these beneficiaries, who went through a one-year training were supplied with start-up tools and equipment worth Gh¢700.00 per trainee.
The Minister said another phase of the programme is the community level training with a focus on income generating skill training, which will run between three months to three years.
She said in this case, local master craftsmen, trainers and experts from the Department of Community Development at the district level.
She added that business advisory centres have been identified to offer practical training in some specific trades like soap making, among others.
She said contracts had been signed with 68 Master Craftsmen for the community level training and in all 367 were benefiting.
“The selected trades for the Community Level are catering, gari processing, plumbing, bead making, mushroom production, grass cutter farming and honey production, fish farming, snail farming, glass and metal fabrication, art and craft work and bamboo works,” she added.
Mr. Ernest Ohene Ntow, a beneficiary, on behalf of others expressed gratitude to the President for the initiative to support illegal miners to stop illegal mining.
He commended the programme team for their support throughout their training period and pledged to use the training to better their lives and avoid illegal mining.
He urged other illegal miners to take advantage of the initiative to learn a trade that they could use to better their lives and alleviate poverty from their communities.
Some of the districts implementing the programme are Atiwa East and West, Abuakwa South and North, Birim South and North, Amansie West, Central and South, Atwima Mponua, Wassa East, Mpohor, Amenfi East, Amenfi West, Bibiani Anhwiaso Bekwai, Upper Denkyir East and West and Asutifi North.