A Project Stuck in Neutral

During an eventful Friday, I went to the field to visit a GEM (Ghana Environmental Management) Project, or GEMP. This followed the Environmental Management subcommittee meeting the night before, where nearly all the government departments were present (Agric, Education, Health, NADMO, Fire Service, Environmental Health, and a man from the NGO PAPADEV).

The project concerns a nursery with various tree saplings that are to be grown inMankuma, and then sold to five pilot communities, creating revenue for one town and food production for the others. Thanks to the donors, these saplings will be subsidized. So, on the economic side, rather than the usual 2 cedi that might be paid by the community, it will be 1 or 1.5 cedi. The other rationale for this project is to encourage reforestation, as cutting down trees for charcoal is a major issue in several districts. The meeting saw an odd point, where they talked about taxing the illegal practise. Seems like some twisted logic.

Unfortunately, this proposed plan hasn’t happened yet. The meeting saw a lot of back and forth, but the main result is that meeting attendants would break up into groups and go to the different communities to get people on board.

Some of the trees have been planted, but due to quarrelling between the two men in charge of running the program, who are from different villages that make up Mankuma (found on either side of the main road), work has been put on hold. After visiting the site, which has plenty of brush lying around (a potential fire problem) and some trees planting within 3 or 4 feet of each other, we went into town to visit the two traditional authorities. It was the DPO, a chief from Bole area (Saala Wura), a representative from the Fire Service, and myself who went to the respective chief compounds to explain our concerns.

Turns out that the two men went for training in Tamale, but now aren’t talking to each other. Thus, the standstill. Thanks to some discussions with the 2 chiefs and their declarations that things will get done, the two men are suppose to get back to work and clean the site. The reason for this ultimatum to get things done by Monday, was that the donors – CIDA (Canadian International Development Agency) and EPA – were going to visit on the following Wednesday. They had plenty more saplings to donate, but need to see something optimistic before continuing with the project. It was very odd for me to see the DPO specifically introduce me as a Canadian in relation to the fact that it was a Canadian donor’s project. As if, I had any influence in the decision making.

After these meetings, we all returned back to the District Assembly and made our leave, but not before one more task. The DPO handed everyone their respective allowances for the two days: 10GHC for field visits and 15GHC sitting allowance for meetings.

I’ll need to check with DPO to see what the result from this week was. How well the site was cleaned up and if the donors will continue with the project.


New Home, New Family

With the help of many friendly Ghanaians, I was able to find an available room in the compound seem below. My room has the middle blue window.

The family I’m staying with is very helpful and extremely patient with me. There are a total of 15 bedrooms – half build in 1992 and the other half in 2005. The second half is completely vacant due to lack of electricity, except for the communal bath, toilet, and kitchen (somewhat of a misnomer as everything is cooked in the central courtyard).

There is also one other renter, named Fatawu, who comes and goes. He is a cattle seller in another area.

Below is a family tree of my host family. The solid paths represent current or intermittent members of the household. The dashed lines mean that the family member lives elsewhere.

Seidu has his own room. Ajara and her other two children stay in one room.

Dawudu has his own room. Afista, Fatima, and Issmail share a room together.

Satamatu has a double room, with the entrance having the only TV.

As you can see, there is a large presence of mothers and their children, with no fathers, where I live. Also, this is far from a complete family tree, as the ‘old lady’ (as most people call the grandmother – Salamatu) has 6 children in all. I have met most of them either in passing or at length. All of the family members come to greet her at one time or another as she is held in such high regard. I even feel bad on those days when I forget to tell her that I’m going to work.

My goal is to try and get a family picture, so that I can give it to her as a gift. Sadly, it is very difficult to get the household together in one spot and before the sun goes down.