Minister for Local Government and Rural Development, Hajia Alima Mahama, took her turn at the Ministry of Information’s Meet-the-Press series in Accra and announced that a total of 196 dam sites have been confirmed under her government’s ‘One village, One Dam’ programme for the three northern regions.
The campaign promise became necessary in view of the fact that the three northern regions, though largely farming communities, do not have the luxury of two rainfall seasons as pertains in other parts of Ghana. This is because they are located in the arid Sahel region which experiences long dry-spells and where irrigation is the only means to practice year-round farming.
Therefore, there are a number of irrigation projects which have provided water for farming activities in parts of northern Ghana. However, some face structural problems while it is deemed that to enhance cultivation in those regions more dams need to be constructed – due to which the NPP promised a dam in every village of the north.
Hajia Alima confirmed that technical appraisals had to be undertaken in each of the 64 districts where potential sites were identified. It therefore comes as a great surprise that government is ready to construct 196 dams under the programme, and this is highly commendable.
However, since the major season is about to take off, it might not be prudent to construct the facilities while the rains are pouring down. Once the plans are in place, we believe the construction will be deferred to a drier spell when the weather conditions are favourable.
Ideally, many would have wanted to see some work to coincide with this farming season since it is government’s desire to increase the number of farmers under the Planting for Food and Jobs to half a million this year. Obviously, that cannot take place now since technical appraisals are necessary to undertake a programme of such magnitude.
We believe the minister’s turn at the Meet-the-Press series has assuaged the doubts of those who felt the promise was stalling and probably would not be able to see the light of day. That has been dispelled, and we can only hope that in due course the dams will be constructed and the burden of farmers in the three northern regions greatly reduced.
In fact, irrigation farming is not taken advantage of fully to produce all year round like the Dawhuenya Irrigation project of the 1970s which boosted agriculture productivity immensely. Today, estate developers have eaten into the Accra Plains earmarked to serve as a breadbasket region for vegetable farming and fruit farming, among others.