The Ministry of Local Government, Decentralisation and Rural Development has launched the second phase of the Integrated Rural Development Project (IRDP).
The project seeks to provide critical infrastructure and economic empowerment to 23 deprived districts across the country.
The $24-million initiative, spanning 2022 to 2027, is a partnership between the government and the OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID).
The sector Minister, Dan Botwe, launched the initiative in Accra yesterday.
Aside from providing infrastructure in the education and health sectors, the project also seeks to eradicate poverty and ensure a sustainable increase in the income level of rural communities through the provision of microcredit.
The IRDP has four components, made up of the provision of socio-economic infrastructure; the provision of credit to small-scale and medium enterprises (SMEs); outreach, sensitisation and capacity building, and management and coordination.
Under the project, OFID will provide a loan facility of $20 million while the government and beneficiary districts provide $800,000 and $3.2 million respectively.
The beneficiary districts are Tema West in the Greater Accra Region; Afigya Kwabre North, Sekyere Central, Offinso North and Sekyere Afram Plains, all in the Ashanti Region; and Okere, Akuapim South and Ayensuano in the Eastern Region.
Others are Assin North and Awutu Senya in the Central Region; Essikado-Ketan in the Western Region; Adaklu in the Volta Region; Karaga in the Northern Region; Binduri in the Upper East Region, and Sunyani West and Wenchi in the Bono Region.
The rest are Techiman in the Bono East; Lambussie in Upper West; Akotombra in Western North; Krachi West in Oti; Asunafo South in Ahafo; East Gonja in Savannah, and Chereponi in North East Region.
Value for money
While describing the IRDP as a major step towards upgrading the rural areas, Mr Botwe stressed that the initiative would be meaningless if there was no strict accountability regime at the local level.
In that regard, he urged the metropolitan, municipal and district chief executives (MMDCEs) to strictly enforce accountability systems and to effectively monitor the implementation of the projects.
He stressed the need for the MMDCEs to ensure that there was value for money by adhering to robust procurement regimes, and to also make use of local expertise.
“The engineers, planners and other technical staff at the assemblies should be able to give accurate progress reports on the projects, and the MMDCEs must insist that this is done,” he stressed.
The minister also urged the MMDCEs to ensure that the projects were properly targeted to meet the needs of the local people.
“People should be able to see, feel and experience the impact of the projects when they are completed.
Let it not just be another project that offers an opportunity for people to make money while the people suffer,” he said.
A former Vice-Chancellor of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), Emeritus Professor Kwasi Kwafo Adarkwa, underscored the need for implementers of the project to put the plight of the masses at the centre of the interventions.
“The voices of the beneficiaries are important, so let us keep that in focus when the projects are implemented,” he said.
He also urged the various stakeholders to work together to make the implementation of the projects seamless.
The Chief Executive Officer of the Social Investment Fund, Justice Mensah Amankwah, said the launch of the IRDP phase two was a major step towards alleviating poverty in rural areas and opening all parts of the country to development.
He said the gains made in the first phase of the project, where 256 infrastructure projects were installed, gave ample evidence that the second phase would be more beneficial to the 23 new beneficiary districts.
Mr Amankwah observed that investment in deprived districts was critical since that was the best way to build vibrant local economies that would promote decentralisation.
Again, he said, it was important to empower residents of rural communities to place them in a better position to participate actively in national development.
“I am particularly happy that this project is taking off because it aligns with the goals and agenda of the government to open up all parts of the country to development,” he said.