Galibang, Northern Region – Countless children of school-going-age at Galibang, a community in the Yendi Municipality, are forced to cut short their education at the primary level due to the distance to be covered to the Yendi town.
While some have migrated to urban areas within the country to work as head potters (kayaye), others have migrated to neighbouring countries.
For educational facilities, the community can boast of a half-broken mud building that serves as classrooms for class one to six pupils hindering the ability of children to further their education in this community.
The few who strive to access Junior High School (JHS) education encounter transportation challenges to and from the community.
Isaiah Nkuyne Gmapei’s journey as a resident of Galibang who completed Fah-Liyatu Islamic JHS at Yendi to Kesse Basahyia Senior High School (SHS) at Techiman, as he narrated to the Ghana News Agency (GNA), was quite rough.
He returned home from Yendi every day as a candidate for the Basic Education Certificate Examinations (BECE) tired and had no water to wash down, no electricity to study.
Isaiah said “I struggled but managed to complete SHS. Aside from the distance, I covered during JHS, I needed electricity to learn during vacation when I was in SHS, but there was no electricity. I stopped schooling for a while due to this and financial challenges.”
Galibang, although under the Yendi Municipality, its residents have lived off the national grid since its existence coupled with bad road network, inadequate potable water, and no social amenity.
Living in a community without a health care centre for instance has made life uneasy for residents, who defied all odds to acquire education beyond what the community could provide to earn a living.
In the case of Moses Dagbanja, a staff of the Bayport Savings and Loans at Yendi, it has been challenging moving from the community to work daily.
“If you do not have a motorbike or bicycle, you cannot go to Yendi because commercial cars do not come here. Our road is bad,” he told the GNA.
Wh residents of Galibang feel neglected
Moses said “Politics is a regular thing in Galibang. For years now, we have been promised electricity. We receive countless promises, but nothing happens afterwards. It is sad to be in a country where other communities are forgotten. It is a concern that we cast our ballots in all general elections held in this country and pays taxes yet there’s no improvement in this area.”
He stated that there were attempts by individuals to connect Galibang and other communities to the national grid, but such attempts did not go beyond surveys.
Mr Tajick Gmagim, Elder of Galibang lamented the hardship residents went through due to the lack of amenities in the area and appealed to the Ghana Government, non-governmental organisations, philanthropists, and well-meaning citizens to support the community.
Information gathered by the GNA indicated that other communities surrounding Galibang, which included Sagna, Linabutaab, Ngondo, Kpamang, Chakun and Yingsala did not have access to electricity.
They are faced with similar challenges as Galibang, some of which are bad road network and lack of social amenities.
Unfulfilled promises to Galibang and its environs for the provision of prerequisites of a community have been interpreted as neglect.
As promises never materialized after elections, residents hurdle and wait for new set of promises during political campaigns.
However, Section 12 (3) of the Local Governance Act, 2016 (ACT 936) mandates District Assemblies “To be responsible for the overall development of the district, formulate and execute plans, programmes and strategies for the effective mobilisation of resources necessary for the overall development of the district.”
It is therefore the civic right of communities to have social amenities, insinuating that residents of Galibang and environs do not enjoy such rights.
Effects on health and economic activities
The circumstances affect health care in the communities, where ambulances ignore calls from the communities in question or charge outrageously due to distance and nature of the roads.
Reaching healthcare facilities on time in the Yendi town by residents of Galibang and its environs is often met with inconveniences given the bad nature of their roads.
Residents of these areas are into farming, so it is confronted with limited access to transportation, hindering their ability to convey farm produce to urban areas for sale.
Farmers tend to spend more transporting their goods to the main Yendi market and making little or no profit from the sale of their produce. This impoverishes them despite their demanding work and determination to make life better for themselves.
Effects on Sustainable Development Goals
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) demand that countries ensure universal access to affordable, reliable, and modern energy services.
It also seeks to ensure that no poverty, good health and well-being, quality education and reduced inequalities elude member countries by 2030.
Seven years to the SDGs target year, communities in Ghana, notably in the northern sector of the country have little access to electricity, a requirement needed for meeting most of the goals.
The plight of Galibang and neighbouring communities is such that their problems are interconnected linking the deficiency in one aspect to the other.
This is a significant hindrance to attaining SDGs one, two, three, four, five, six, seven and 10.
Mr Paul Osei Kuffour, Programmes Manager at the Ghana Centre for Democratic Development, in an interview with the GNA, said there were numerous forms of inequalities that reflected the level of development across the country.
The inequalities, he said, included rural-urban, inter-regional, intra-regional and north-south inequalities, in terms of spatial development.
“As a country, we have not been able to share prosperity and growth equitably across, with reasons such as historical antecedents, which led to the marginalisation and vulnerability of parts of the country, especially the north while others have been due to poor implementation of policies and programmes as well as corruption,” he added.
Mr Kuffour noted that underdevelopment of communities limited individuals’ capabilities to harness their potential, adding that limited access to quality social services such as health and education adversely impacted the overall development of communities and investment in resources to expand the local economy.
He said the unavailability of social services in communities contributed to people migrating to cities in search of opportunities which were mostly rare and sometimes do not exist.
He however recommended the need to engage the local assembly, Members of Parliament, hold town hall meetings and durbars with chiefs and duty-bearers to discuss development challenges of deprived communities.
Government and relevant stakeholders should contact Galibang and the sister communities and provide them with a community-based Health Planning and Services compound for now to ensure easy access to health care.
Connecting Galibang and neighbouring communities to the national grid must be treated as a matter of urgency considering the cry of residents and the fact that these people have lagging points behind development.
In addition to attaining SDGs, fulfilling citizens’ rights to access basic amenities would enhance economic growth. This explains why the government should provide school blocks for the Galibang community, as well as construct their roads to ease life for these rural folks.
The Yendi Municipal Assembly must live up to its mandate and work towards improving the welfare of communities within its authority.
The MP for the area should go beyond party politics and rally resources and push to ensure that the constituents get their share of the national cake as deserved.