I was part of the campaigns of the various political parties in the country as a journalist and I listened attentively to the campaign promises of each candidate. While I applauded some, I questioned the idea behind some of them as they were too lofty to be implemented. However, I consoled myself with the knowledge that I was not part of those who drafted the policy so they know how to implement it.
One policy that suffered bastardization is the ‘One Village, One Dam’ policy of the incoming NPP government.
This policy got a lot of singsong negative commentary from avowed critics of the NPP to the extent that one disqualified candidate, Dr. Henry Lartey, said it would breed mosquitoes. Yes, that was the height to which the criticism got to.
I decided to visit the Upper West Regional office of the Irrigation Development Authority (IDA) to find out the feasibility of the policy and I must say with the help of my friend Fidelis, I got education.
What I learnt is that technically we can’t have dams in every community due to soil nature. However, we can have a cluster of communities sharing a dam.
I also learnt that, the IDA has so far identified 17 sites for irrigation dam purposes but the only challenge is getting funds to develop them.
Now let’s come to why the NPP says it would implement such a policy. According to them, it is to help farmers in the area to engage in all-year-round farming since the area has only one farming season which is dictated by the weather.
This, I think is brilliant because over the years, some notable Ministers I have spoken to on the subject of improving crop cultivation in the savanna have all maintained that the construction of dams will do the trick.
I have spoken to Honourable Mark Owen Woyongo and in other interviews with outgoing Agric. Minister Alhaji Mohammed Muniru Limuna and they all maintain that dams will do the trick.
Dr Roger Kanton, the head of the Savanna Agricultural Research Institute at Mangu and Professor David Millar (former Pro VC of the University for Development Studies) have also maintained at the annual Harmattan School that dams will do the trick.
So the problem is not about dams but about each village having a dam which I also agree is not technically feasible.
I have travelled through the three regions of the North and almost every major community I have visited has a dam but these dams are mostly not irrigation dams.
So Nana Addo and the NPP will not have to go and locate a new area for the purpose of getting a new dam. The only thing they can do in these areas is rehabilitating the existing dams and converting those that are not for irrigation purposes to that.
Do they need a new organization? I don’t think they need a new organization to do that because already the Ghana Social Opportunities Program (GSOP) is in existence and they can implement the policy with more funding.
This will not only make this policy a dream come true but will also put money directly into the pockets of people in the communities as GSOP applies the labour intensive approach in its work.
An example is the mini irrigation dam at Wiaga which is helping the youth there to go into vegetable farming instead staying in Kumasi or Accra to do menial jobs.
So in my opinion, we may not give every village a dam but we can work on existing dams and those areas we don’t have but technically its feasible to construct new dams it can be done.
We only need to ensure GSOP is resourced to implement the policy.
By Musah Lansah, GHOne News Upper West Regional Correspondent