Speech of the Australian High Commissioner to Ghana
Launch of the Direct Aid Program for 2013-14
High Commissioner’s Residence, 19 December 2013
Check against delivery.
Welcome and congratulations to our partner organisations we are supporting through the Direct Aid Program.
Welcome to the representatives of government and other civil society organisations.
Welcome to those who have travelled from outside Accra – we appreciate your effort and your time.
Welcome to our friends in the media.
And also to a number of Alumni here today – Ghanaians who have received scholarships under our Australia Awards program and who we maintain close links with, such as through events like today’s.
It gives me great pleasure to formally launch the Direct Aid Program for 2013-14.
As the name suggests, the Direct Aid Program is designed to support direct, targeted interventions in communities affected by poverty, and a lack of access to basic services such as education and health.
Its objective is to reduce poverty by supporting projects which will provide services and opportunities to people, and this extends to areas such as agricultural production and skills development for sustainable income generation.
For the current Australian financial year, which runs from July 2013 to June 2014, the budget of the Direct Aid Program is 300,000 Australian dollars or approximately 600,000 Ghanaian cedis.
Looking at the projects we are supporting this year, I can say we are spending this money wisely.
Most grants are for between ten and twenty thousand dollars, and some are as high as thirty thousand.
But there are also much smaller grants which have already made very impressive impacts.
For the first time this year, the High Commission has pursued a broad geographic spread for the program.
As you know, poverty exists not only in Ghana but in countries throughout the region.
I’m pleased that we are supporting projects in eight different countries, including Ghana, and I will mention each one in turn.
But it should be noted that our strong links with Ghana are still very much reflected in the Direct Aid Program.
And we have allocated approximately 100,000 Australian dollars or one third of the 300,000 Australian dollar budget to support projects in Ghana.
The Direct Aid Program funded three projects earlier this year.
The first of these was “Make Kpando Beautiful,” a day long community clean-up of the town of Kpando in the Volta region, organised by the United Youth Club of Kpando on 27 September.
Marc was able to attend this event, and described very lively groups of people cleaning up the town from early in the morning, while spreading the message of environmental responsibility among the community.
The second project was a Dyslexia Teacher Training course organised by the UNESCO National Commission and Dyslexia International.
Held in Winneba on 7 – 12 October, this conference shared best practice teaching methods regarding students with learning disabilities to Ghanaian teachers. Congratulations on a successful program.
The third of these was Ghana’s first ever Mental Health Conference, organised by the Mental Health Association of Ghana, on 10-13 October.
This shone a light on an area of great need in Ghana – a better understanding of mental health issues and how to promote inclusive solutions.
In fact the organiser of that conference, Mr Francis Acquah, lives in Australia and has just been awarded the Meritorious Service to the Community Award for his Outstanding Voluntary Contribution to Victoria’s African Communities.
I believe we have several representatives of the Mental Health Association of Ghana here today and I say again, congratulations on a successful conference.
Coming back to the present, the fourth project we are supporting in Ghana is the West African Network for Peacebuilding’s (WANEP’s) publication of their new election dispute manual in French.
Australian support will make this valuable resource available in Francophone countries across the region.
Congratulations to WANEP for its continuing good work on peace and security in West Africa.
The fifth project we are supporting in Ghana is the construction of the disability assessment and support centre in Tamale.
This is the second phase of a construction which began with a DAP grant in 2012, of a centre which will have a big impact in improving the lives of people with disabilities in Tamale.
The project is being run by the Australian NGO Pathfinders, who we will hear a message from shortly, and by its local partner in Tamale, the Crescent Educational & Volunteer Service (CEVSGHANA).
And our sixth project in Ghana is the funding of a computer laboratory at the Kokofu-Anhiaso Primary School in the Central Region.
This project is being implemented jointly by four organisations:
the Bosome Freho District Assembly (Ashanti Region)
the Kokofu Anhwiaso Primary School
the Kokofu Anhwiaso Traditional Chieftaincy
and the Dr Kate Foundation
In fact, we have here today on display one of the computers that will be installed in the Kokofu Anhwiaso School and I look forward to a photograph at the end of the proceedings.
We are particularly pleased to support this project as the Dr Kate Foundation was established by our very own Kate O’Shaughnessy who many of you may know – she worked here at the High Commission and coordinated the Direct Aid Program before Marc’s arrival.
I would like to acknowledge the four representatives of these organisations who have made the long journey to Accra to be here with us today. Thank you so much and we look forward to working together to implement this project.
Eight of the 14 DAP projects are outside Ghana, and I will now briefly mention each of these.
In Burkina Faso, the High Commission is supporting the NGO “Eau Vive” to implement an irrigation and market garden project two hours from Ouagadougou.
This will build on the success of a similar agriculture project Eau Vive implemented in 2012.
In Côte d’Ivoire, the NGO Leadafricaines has received a DAP grant to implement a training program in sewing and business skills for disadvantaged and disabled women in Abidjan.
We will be working with an Alumna who undertook a short course in leadership and advocacy in Brisbane in 2012 through the Australia Awards program.
This will be the High Commission’s first DAP project in Côte d’Ivoire and I am looking forward to visiting the workshop during my next trip to Abidjan.
We are supporting two projects in Liberia.
The first is a maternal and infant care program which will construct a maternity ward, provide equipment and a bore for clean water, as well as a community sensitisation program. This will be implemented by the NGO “Give Them Hope”.
The second project is the construction of water and sanitation facilities by the Evangelical Children Rehabilitation Program (ECREP) in Grand Gedeh County.
In Mali, a country in great need at present, we are supporting the NGO “Groupe Nature” to construct a toilet block in the village of Nierilla, 70km northeast of Bamako.
In Senegal, we are funding the Parents and Teachers Association of the Lycee [School] in the village of Thies to construct and furnish a classroom block, allowing more classes to be held indoors and with the right equipment.
In Sierra Leone, we are supporting the construction of a recovery ward at a maternal health centre, and a three-day workshop on maternal and child healthcare practices.
This project forms part of the larger delivery center construction project being run by the NGO “Wellbody Alliance”.
In Togo, the Direct Aid Program will finance the renovation of the largest HIV/AIDS clinic in the northern Kara region.
By replacing the roof and other structural improvements, we will be facilitating the work of agencies such as the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Malaria and Tuberculosis and the Togolese Ministry of Health.
The implementing NGO for this project is appropriately named “Association d’Espoir pour Demain” .
This translates to “Hope for Tomorrow”.
It is my firm hope that this project, and the 13 others we are supporting this year through the Direct Aid Program, truly will realise the hope for tomorrow – for a better life for not only Ghanaians but West Africans across the region.
Once again, Ladies and Gentlemen, I thank you for your attendance here today and for sharing in our excitement at launching these projects.
I wish our recipient partners all the best as they set about their good work.