Civil society organisations (CSOs) in agriculture and community development across the country have called for dedicating a percentage of the District Assembly Common Fund (DACF) to supporting farm recovery in times of natural disaster.
The call is targetted at influencing the creation of a Localised Disaster Relief Fund (LDRF) specifically for farmers to recover their farms, especially with the purchase of inputs, land preparation and restarting cultivation. This is because disaster support interventions are usually community-targetted and do not meet the needs of farmers.
According to the CSOs, farmers are the most vulnerable in their communities during times of natural disaster such as floods, bushfires, droughts and crop-disease outbreaks; and as such, they need a dedicated relief fund purposely set up to aid recovery when everything is lost in the process.
The CSOs have proposed that a piloted LDRF for farmers has proved to be very critical for their recovery after disaster situations; however, the adoption and sustainability of this measure in all farming communities across the country would require some regular support funding mechanisms, hence the call for district assemblies to dedicate one percent of the DACF to this cause.
Team Lead, Technical Assistance Team, Civil Society Organisation Research and Innovation for Sustainable Development Programme, (CSO-RISE), Mary Tobbin Osei, explained that the disaster relief support offered by the National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO) in the form of mattresses, mosquito-nets and assorted food items do not address the farmers’ needs in terms of seedlings, fertiliser and other inputs to restart.
“There are a lot of disasters that farmers face, including climate change, floods, bushfires, droughts and crop-disease outbreaks. We applaud the work of NADMO, but usually this support is targetted at the community in general to resettle victims; however, when a whole farm is burnt to ashes or destroyed by flood, how does the poor farmer restart?
“So, we are advocating for a relief fund at the district level. And we want local assemblies to consider putting about one percent of their fund into this cause. We already have 2.5 percent of this fund dedicated to persons with disability (PWD), so we can do the same for farmers,” she said.
The TAT team lead added that if it is well-implemented, philanthropists and donor agencies interested in the agriculture sector will support the fund from time to time in some communities of interest – and grow the fund to benefit farmers after the initial NADMO relief aid.
Executive Director of the Network for Community Planning and Development (NECPAD), Paul Asamoah Kukwaw, on his part stressed that community-based social protection (SP) initiatives are key to the sustainability of government interventions – because the national SP initiatives are not covering the vulnerable in deprived societies as expected, adding that initiatives such as the LDRF and Village Savings and Loans (VSL) could be helpful.
The CSO-RISE initiative is a bilateral project funded by the European Union and implemented by the Ministry of Finance, with the objective to identify, discuss and tackle challenges that CSOs encounter in the implementation of social protection, water & sanitation and agriculture among other donor-funded initiatives which are systemic and require some governmental-level intervention or policy decisions to address.
Madam Tobbin Osei said: “We are thinking about sustainability in the implementation of these initiatives. So, we want to look at how to get government agencies to learn about these issues going on at the grassroots level. This workshop is therefore designed to enable CSOs to come up with the issues backed by data and evidence to give a clear message to the state on knowing how best to deal with the issues at hand”.
State agencies present at the workshop included the Ministries of Agriculture, Finance; National Health Insurance Authority (NHIS); National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO); and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) among others.