The year, 2021, is cruising to an end and a look at the activities executed by the Zongo Development Fund (ZoDF) during the year is so encouraging.
The year began after the 2020 election and so the Fund, one of the flagship programmes of the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) government, laced its boots to complete all the projects started in the preceding year.
More than 200 projects have been completed in Zongo communities across the country so far, with about 500 at different stages of completion.
The projects include; community sports and recreational centres (astro turfs), classroom blocks, toilet facilities, mechanised water systems, street lights, city roads and drains. Some of the projects have been commissioned.
The joy is that these projects are community driven, which means that the ZoDF executed projects are based on the needs or requests of the various communities.
For that reason, the impact of the projects on the people is so phenomenal.In fact, President Akufo-Addo and Vice-President Dr Mahamudu Bawumia have demonstrated strong commitment to the Zongo development agenda by the regular budgetary allocations and releases to fund projects/programmes in Zongo communities.
It is reassuring that in President Akufo-Addo’s speech at last year’s Eidul-Adha, he affirmed that the creation of the ZoDF was “to ensure that we build an inclusive society that creates opportunity for all.”
The President promised that he, together with Vice-President Dr Bawumia, would guide the work of the Fund and ensure the highest standards of commitment from its operatives.
Development is a process and the facilitation of that process is anchored on the initiative and push by a dedicated leader.
The ZoDF has indeed benefited from such innovative leadership spearheaded by the Chief Executive Officer, Dr Arafat Sulemana Abdulai, since assuming the position at the latter part of 2019.
Impact of projects
In terms of impact, ZoDF funded projects stand tall. For instance, the school projects, mainly six-unit classroom blocks in basic schools, have greatly eliminated congestion in old dilapidated school buildings. Teachers have enough classrooms to space up the pupils in line with the new Covid-19 safety protocols.
Besides, the spacing facilitates effective teaching and learning, thereby enhancing teacher/pupil ratio and improving quality education. The over 40 beneficiary areas include Tamale Hausa Zongo, Akenten Fulani Zongo and Agogo Zongo.
About 400 needy but brilliant tertiary students from Zongo communities have received educational grants from ZoDF to pursue various courses in the sciences, engineering and humanities. Some 1,200 youth have also been trained in various vocations, such as beads making, leather works, soap and sanitizer making under the Zongopreneur programme.
Another major intervention by the ZoDF is the construction of astro turfs in Zongos. Aside the promotion of sporting activities, the astro turfs have served as avenues for all community engagements, such as marriages, naming ceremonies and funerals.
Other public functions are held there. It is a mark of the importance that the presidency attaches to the astro turfs that President Akufo-Addo himself commissioned some of them in Kyebi, Salaga and Akim Oda Zongos. Vice President Dr Bawumia also commissioned the ones in Walewale and Fadama.
The more than 200 mechanized water systems have ensured the provision of safe and potable water to the people, while the women and children are saved from travelling long distances in search of water. Abura Zongo, Opeikuma Zongo and Nkwanta are among the beneficiaries.
Personal hygiene and good environmental outlook have improved in many Zongo communities as a result of the toilet facilities provided by ZoDF. The facilities have greatly reduced or eliminated the phenomenon of open defecation. Kumbungu and Anweaso Zongo are some of the beneficiary communities.
Street lights have also been provided to improve visibility and security in Zongo communities. Sabon Zongo, one of the pioneer Zongos in Accra has benefitted from this intervention.
Other projects funded by the Fund are the construction of a library complex at Nsawam Zongo, the fixing of a bed lift at the maternity ward of the Maamobi General Hospital, and the construction of a school gate for the Accra Girls’ SHS, a school located in the Zongo community of Maamobi.
Several projects have been outlined for the coming year and beyond. One of the key projects is the construction of 16 model senior high schools in each of the 16 regions. The model schools will have fully equipped libraries, laboratories, classrooms, recreational facilities and dormitories.
The Fund would also increase its support for brilliant but needy students under the scholarship grant and focus more on building the entrepreneurial skills of women and the youth in Zongo communities.
If the current trend of development projects being executed by the Fund under the leadership of the Dr Abdulai in Zongos is sustained in the next few years, those areas will witness improvement in infrastructure and living standards of the people.
Therefore, stakeholders in Zongo communities, such as chiefs, political, religious and youth leaders are required to collaborate with the ZoDF to push the agenda of accelerating the development in Zongos.
Development partners are also required to come on board to offer the needed financial and technical support to ZoDF to fast-track the execution of projects in Zongos to increase access to basic services, improve security and equip the teeming youth with employable skills.
In the coming years, ZoDF remains poised to deliver on its mandate by ensuring that all the over 3,000 identifiable Zongos benefit from the Zongo Development and Transformation agenda.
# The writer is the Head, Corporate Affairs, Zongo Development Fund
By Musah Yahaya Jafaru