The United States Agency for International Development (USAID)-Resiliency in Northern Ghana (RING) project has so far empowered over 36,000 people comprising 1,311 women groups who subscribed to the Village Savings and Loans Associations (VSLAs) planned for the agriculture and livelihood component.

According to the Deputy Chief Party of RING, Yunus Abdulai, the VSLAs component of the project raked in over GH¢4.4million as weekly savings from the beneficiaries.

He gave an overview of the project’s achievements and future plans at a meeting with a cross section of the media in Tamale.

He said Ghc18 million has so far been disbursed and gave the breakdown as 27% for agriculture, 12% Education, 50% Income generating activities, 7% Health and 4% for other activities.

“The project in 2015, we piloted the cultivation of orange-fleshed sweet potatoes (OFSPs) and harvested 20,000 kilograms from 29 sites. In 2016, we scaled up with 1.2 million vines distributed to 2,118 women and by the harvesting season, 264 metric tonnes were realised and this goes a long way to improve the nutritional status of women and children in these communities.”

“More than 7,428 acres of soybeans were ploughed in 2016 under the ‘small is beautiful concept’ with smaller plots and better practices to improve yield. This yielded 2,207 metric tonnes with average yield of 289 kilograms per acre.”

Yunus Abdulai revealed the project’s future strategy saying, “The project in 2017 will support 10,000 women with 5 million OFSP vines to produce approximately 1,000 metric tonnes of OFSPs. We will install 250 small scale drip irrigation systems in 90 communities reaching 3,000 women and support 7,836 women to grow 6,000 acres of soybeans with estimated yield of 2,400 metric tonnes.”

“Still in 2017, we will support 455 women with 4,500 birds to promote egg consumption by targeting households especially children under 5. We will also support 3,400 women with 2,500 acres of groundnuts with emphasis on aflatoxin prevention as well as support 2,000 women with 6,000 sheep to improve their livelihoods,” he added.

The RING project Programs Manager, Bethany Davidson disclosed that 94 government staff have been trained on asset management and 283 Assembly staff trained on Social Protection and Poverty reduction.

“Seventeen Gender Desk Officers have also been trained on gender mainstreaming and 330 Area Council and Unit Committee Members trained on their basic roles and responsibilities.”

The Nutrition Component Manager, Kristen Kappos also said the project has trained 342 health workers on anemia prevention and control whereas 694 community health workers have acquired skills on anemia referral.

He said the project through community durbars educated 41,303 people on the nutrition component.

The RING project was launched in 2014 and over 300,000 beneficiaries are targeted by June 2019.

The USAID in collaboration with the Regional Coordinating Council and the district assemblies is implementing the project in 17 districts.

The American government provided US$28 million to the Government of Ghana for the project’s implementation.

The funds are to enable the Regional Coordinating Council and the district assemblies implement activities that will improve nutrition and hygiene and as well strengthen the resiliency of poor families.

Additionally, the American government provided technical assistance and capacity building support to district assemblies and the NRCC for planning, implementation and coordinating of activities to improve the livelihoods and nutritional status of vulnerable families.

By: Abdul Karim Naatogmah/citifmonline.com/Ghana