The European Union (EU) and the Centre for Democratic Development (CDD) are implementing a unique scheme to better the lives of persons living in resourced endowed areas – but which have been marginalised due to low educational and skills backgrounds – through gaining meaningful employment in the operations of firms exploiting local resources.
Three skills and enterprise development centres are being built in the Asutifi North district of the Bono Region at a cost of GH¢4.7million, to economically empower thousands of people who have become jobless due to mining operations in the area.
Ntotroso Area Council, Kenyasi Number 1 Area Council and Kenyasi Number 2 Area Council will each have a skills and enterprise village to train interested person in metal fabrication, soap and detergent making and kente-weaving. These skills are to empower community members whose livelihoods, mostly farming, have been cut short due to mining operations.
According to a Senior Programmes Officer at the CDD, Paul Kwabena Aborampah Mensah, 45 people will benefit from the project’s first phase; each of them will get seed capital of about GH¢3,700 to invest into their ventures. It is projected that hundreds of families will economically benefit from the project. The EU is working through the Asutifi Rural Bank to disburse funds to the 45 selected beneficiaries.
Mr. Mensah believes this will go a long way to calm tension in the areas, since many people after spending the one-time compensation given to them by the mining companies are apprehensive about their future and sometimes demand more compensation – resulting in disturbances.
A survey conducted by the CDD in the three areas that have been mostly affected by the mining – Ntotroso area council, Kenyasi Number 1 area council and Kenyasi Number 2 Area Council – revealed that “about 70 percent of the people have just basic education. They don’t have any professional skills training as they did not learn any trade after their primary education, so they are just there.
“About 80 percent of them, in one way or another, have also had their farm lands taken over by commercial activities. If I say one way or another, it means either their own parent’s lands were taken over or they were farming on other people’s land and that has been taken over; or they were people who buy land and farm it on yearly basis for a living, and that has also been taken over.
“So, these are the people who are there; they don’t have a trade, they are no more farming, they don’t have any work and they don’t have any certificates – so what do we do with these people?” Mr. Mensah said to the B&FT.
He however commended chiefs of the area for a providing eight acres of land each for construction of the skills and enterprise villages. The National Vocational Training Institute (NVTI) has been contracted to stock the 3 centres with necessary tools and equipment to aid the training.
The first phase of the ongoing project is expected to be fully completed by August this year, while full completion will be in 2022. After completion, the equipment for training will be left at the skills centres for the benefit of all others who were not part of the first batch but are interested in learning the skills.