Story: Kwame Asare Boadu, Nyinahim
HAVE you ever been to the Atwima Mponua District? It used to constitute the rural portion of the erstwhile Atwima District.
Currently, it is now one of the three districts in the vast Atwima area of the Ashanti Region, having been created about four years ago by the government of the New Patriotic Party (NPP).
Atwima is an important area of Ashanti. The President of the land, Mr John Agyekum Kufuor, comes from Atwima. I also feel proud that I have my roots in Atwima. My father, the late Mr Albert Kofi Asare, also known as Mr Kofi Sraha, was a native of Atwima Yabi, some 10 kilometres away from Kwadaso in Kumasi.
Rich in mineral resources, cash and food crops, Atwima continues to play a very important role in the development of the economy of Ashanti. I am at a loss as to why there is no paramount chief in the whole of Atwima. Perhaps, I have to read the history and tradition behind this.
This is not the main focus of this article anyway. This piece is more interested in how the young rural district of Atwima Mponua has gone through the challenges it faced from birth, and is now well positioned to take off in full flight in its development strides.
Among the challenges that confronted the district on its creation, was to extricate itself from the high degree of poverty, and under- development that manifested in education, health, road infrastructure, sanitation, water and electricity supplies in the about 400 communities with a total population of some 122,000.
As Atwima Mponua is an agrarian district, it was distasteful the way the road network is in very deplorable state. That prevents many farmers in the hinterlands from reaching the marketing centres with their produce to sell.
Education, which is regarded as the focus of development of every community, is at a very low level. Educational infrastructure in the towns and villages is nothing to write home about, compelling many teachers to refuse postings to the rural communities.
One of the immediate tasks of the assembly, since its creation, has been how to build the district infrastructure, including offices and residential accommodation for staff of the decentralised departments, the construction of the residence for the District Chief Executive (DCE) and many other projects in the communities.
Four years into its creation, the district cannot be said to have completely overcome the numerous challenges that confronted it at birth. But some appreciable level of progress has been achieved.
Credit here goes to the district assembly that has effectively managed the available resources to the benefit of the people. Central government support and interventions from non-governmental organisations have gone a long way to accelerate the pace of development.
Through the District Assemblies’ Common Fund (DACF), the assembly has been able to construct accommodation for the District Chief Executive (DCE), the District Co-ordinating Director, two semi-detached bungalows for two Cuban medical doctors at the Nyinahin Government Hospital, and six staff quarters.
Construction of a district guest house is also in progress all at Nyinahin, the district capital.
The assembly is also putting up a GH¢1.2 million 40-room office complex and assembly hall with offices for the Member of Parliament (MP), the Presiding Member and four meeting rooms for the subcommittees of the assembly at Nyinahin. It is due for completion in October, this year.
Perhaps, the educational sector has received the biggest support from the assembly and its development partners within the years. An average of 50 per cent of the district’s resources is channelled to the educational sector.
The DCE, Mr Wilberforce Owusu-Ansah, explains that it is only education that can bring the people out of poverty, disease and ignorance, which are enemies of development in the rural areas.
Among the many projects being undertaken are construction of a KVIP toilet at Nyinahin, teachers’ quarters at Kwame Dwuma Sreso, national school feeding facilities at Adupri, Addaikrom and Nkruma Nkwanta, and classroom blocks at Saakrom, Nkrumah Nkwanta and Otaakrom.
Other notable educational projects include completion of teachers’ quarters at Gyereso and Akonkye, and school blocks at Agogoso, Atuntuma and Beposo.
A number of ongoing educational projects can also be found in communities including Botrampa, Sereso Timpom and Ahyeresu, as well as Debra Nkwanta where a three-unit classroom block is being constructed under the community-based rural development project (CBRDP).
The assembly is also supporting the only two senior high schools in the district, at Nyinahin and Mpasatia, with grants every year to purchase building materials for their development projects.
Besides, the assembly is constructing a two-storey dormitory block for the Catholic Senior High School at Nyinahin, while 1,020 pieces of desks of various types have been distributed to various schools in the district.
All the interventions are geared towards improving standards of education. Today, the examination results at the Basic Education Certificate Examinations (BECE) have improved tremendously. From a percentage score of 37 in the 2005/2006 academic year, the results jumped to 64 per cent in 2006/2007.
The fact remains that teachers are central to the improvement of education. As a result, the assembly has instituted measures to motivate teachers to accept posting and remain in the district. An awards scheme for teachers is in place while 60 bicycles have been distributed freely to some teachers in the remotest parts of the district.
It is not only in education that some measure of progress has been realised. The health sector has also received some support with the aim of improving the health status of the people.
There are seven health facilities in the district, the biggest of which is the district hospital at Nyinahin.
The assembly has completed the extension of the ward at the hospital. The Social Investment Fund (SIF) has also completed a clinic facility at Sereso Timpom. The Assembly, in conjunction with the community, has built nurses’ quarters and rehabilitated others at Bayerebon Number 5.
A health centre has also been completed at Kotokuom. The Assembly has allocated GH¢5,000 of its budget for this year to purchase various items to equip the health centre to enable it to start operation.
Getting more doctors and other health personnel to man the health facilities in the district has been the concern of the Assembly.
However, as a result of hard work of the Assembly, two Cuban doctors have been posted to the Nyinahin Hospital to add up to the only Ghanaian doctor there.
Some electrification and water projects are at various stages of completion, all with the objective of making life comfortable for the people.
Linked to this are sanitation projects spread across the communities. Most of the facilities are household latrines. The KfW of Germany, the Community Based Rural Development Programme (CBRDP) and the District Assembly, are actively involved in those projects.
Other projects like markets and roads have also taken place or are being undertaken. Two modern markets are under construction at Otaakrom and Mpasatia to boost business activities in the district.
On roads, mention can be made of the rehabilitation of Otaakrom-Kofi Nyamekrom road, rehabilitation of Agogoso-Nantiede road, reshaping of Bibiani-Tano Dumasi road, reshaping of Mpasatia-Abompe and Debra Camp-Domeabra Junction roads as some of the many feeder projects being undertaken.
The development strides notwithstanding, there is still some load of work to be done in order to bring development to the expected heights.
As the DCE, Mr Owusu-Ansah, told this writer, the NPP government had brought hope to the people with the creation of the district.
“It behoves all of us to give the necessary support to the government and the district assembly to achieve more for the district,” he stressed.