Author Archives: Cynthia Prah

Nelson Mandela International Day marked in Accra with a Clean-up Exercise and a public durbar

Accra, 18 July 2017 – The United Nations Information Centre, Accra, in partnership with the South African High Commission and the Ministry of Inner City and Zongo Development commemorated this year’s Nelson Mandela International Day with a clean-up exercise at Nima, one of Accra’s most poverty endemic suburbs.

Volunteers clearing refuse on the streets of Nima

More volunteers cleaning up

The clean-up exercise, which was carried out along parts of the major streets in Nima was successfully executed, thanks to Zoomlion Ghana Limited and members of the Nima Neighbourhood Watchdog Committee and other local groups and organisations, with the support of staff of UNIC Accra, the South African High Commission and Group Five, a South Africa Construction firm operating in Ghana.

The purpose of the clean-up exercise was to encourage the residents of Nima and the general public to devote at least 67 minutes of their time to live the Nelson Mandela legacy.  The exercise attracted several market women, commercial drivers and some residents of the community.

In his address, the Minister of Inner City and Zongo Development, Bonifice Abubakar Siddique, noted that, “We chose to embark on this event in Nima because it exhibits conditions that resonate with the theme of this event- ‘Action Against Poverty’.

He further proposed that all the partners, under the leadership of the South African High Commission, consider the development of a Senior High School (SHS) to serve the children of the Nima community.  He added that when built, the SHS, the first in the community, would be named after Nelson Mandela.

The South Africa High Commissioner to Ghana, H.E Ms Lulama Xingwana, said throughout his Presidency, Nelson Mandela focused on solutions to end hunger and inequality nationwide. He pushed for equitable distribution of farmland and agricultural development, pointing to the fact that freedom necessitates basic human rights.

On her part, the National Information Officer of the United Nations Information Centre in Accra, Ms. Cynthia Prah, admonished the school children among the gathering to work hard towards achieving their dreams as future leaders.

UNMISS Bids Farewell to Deputy Special Representative Eugene Owusu

New York. 14 July, 2017 – Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Eugene Owusu, has been farewelled by friends and colleagues as he leaves the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) after two years of service.

Eugene Owusu speaks at the launch of the South Sudan Humanitarian Response Plan for 2017.

Mr. Owusu, of Ghana, was appointed to the post by former United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in May 2015.

At a farewell ceremony, Mr Owusu’s contribution to the Mission and the country was recognised by members of the South Sudanese Government, humanitarians, UNMISS personnel and the Ghanaian community.

As well as Deputy Special Representative, Mr Owusu also serves as UN Resident Coordinator, Humanitarian Coordinator, and Resident Representative of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in South Sudan.

The acting Representative for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in South Sudan, Vincent Parker, said that Mr Owusu had expertly managed that challenging mix of senior leadership responsibilities.

South Sudan’s Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management, Hon. Hussein Mar Nyuot, said that, often in countries in crisis, those leading humanitarian issues were accused by governments of being “saboteurs”. However, Mr Owusu’s “remarkable” efforts, diplomatic skills, and strong leadership had been greatly valued by the Transitional Government of National Unity.

Mr Owusu said it was important for all of those working towards peace in South Sudan to look beyond the challenges of today and to be driven by the opportunities ahead.

“We must continue to be the positive agents of change that this country needs,” he said. “I have absolute faith in the indomitable spirit of this country and its people. We must unleash the potential of the people of South Sudan to live a life of peace, prosperity and dignity.”

UN Secretary-General to Launch SDGs report 2017

Accra, 13 July 2017 –The United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres, will officially launch the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Report 2017 at the opening of the High-level segment of the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations (ECOSOC) on Monday, 17 July.

This year’s report provides a global overview of the current state of the implementation of the SDGs.  The report is based on latest available data for indicators in the proposed global framework and indicate areas of progress and areas where more action needs to be taken to achieve the Goals.

The report will be presented at a press conference on the same day in New York and can be followed live on the United Nations Web TV at http://webtv.un.org/ .

Meanwhile the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF), the central platform for reviewing progress on the implementation of the SDGs at the global level, is underway in New York until 19 July.  Member states, civil society, the private sector and other stakeholders are gathering at the Forum to review the successes, challenges and lessons learned on achieving the SDGs.  During this Forum, 44 countries are expected to present their Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs) or plans to achieve the Goals.

The theme for this year’s Forum is “Eradicating poverty and promoting prosperity in a changing world”.

Economic Development in Africa report 2017 Launched in Accra

Accra, 5 July 2017 – The National Information Officer of the United Nations Information Centre in Accra, Cynthia Prah, Philip Cobbina, a senior Manager with Cicada Consulting Limited, Emmanuel Badger, a Senior Investment Promotion Officer at the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre and Naana Nyarkua Ocran, Deputy Director of the Ghana Museums and Monuments Board have jointly launched the Economic Development in Africa Report, 2017 in Accra.

Cynthia Prah (Right)with team launching the report

Philip Cobbina who walked reporters and participants through some salient aspects of the report, encouraged local tourism industry actors to adapt aspects of the report that have relevance within the local context. He said it is about time we take measures to reap the benefits of tourism as spelt out in the report.

The Economic Development in Africa Report, 2017 chiefly examines the role that tourism can play in Africa’s development process. The report has captured that tourism’s total contribution to Africa’s gross domestic product (GDP) which includes direct and indirect contributions increased from an average $69 billion in 1995-1998 to $166 billion in 2011-2014 reflecting 6.8 per cent of GDP to 8.5 per cent of GDP.

Mr. Philip Cobbina presenting the report

He particularly called on policy makers and the relevant public institutions to tackle leakages in the tourism sector by ensuring that major industry actors patronize local products.

Community sensitisation and clean-up exercise ahead of UN Ocean Conference

Tema, June 1, 2017 – Ahead of the Ocean Conference, which begins today in New York, the UN Information Centre in Accra has undertaken a sensitisation and clean-up exercise to bring home the message of the need to join hands to reverse the decline in the health of our ocean. The event was supported by the Department of Public Information Outreach Division, New York, UNDP, FAO, and Zoomlion Ghana Limited, a waste management and environmental sanitation company. The event was held in partnership with Abibimman Foundation, a local NGO.

The canoe fishing harbour

 

Mr. Gueye addressing the gathering

Business at the Tema Canoe Fishing Harbour and market was interrupted for about 2 hours as officials addressed the community against bad practices that pose a threat to the ocean.  The head of the community, Nii Odametey Auwdum advised the fisher folks against the use of plastic bags for their businesses stating that apart from its nuisance, plastics pose serious threat to life in the sea. He said his office may consider banning the use of plastics in the community if the practice persists.

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Surge in voluntary commitments for ocean action as Conference to halt ocean degradation set to open

New York, 2 June—A surge in the number of voluntary commitments to take action to improve the health of the ocean by countries, businesses and civil society groups has been recorded, and more are expected as the Ocean Conference gets underway Monday, 5 June  at United Nations Headquarter in New York.

The commitments, now numbering over 600 and still increasing, come as heads of state and government and ministers will join ocean leaders, experts, businesses, and civil society organizations to discuss solutions that restore the health of the world’s ocean.  The commitments target a wide range of ocean problems, ranging from protecting coral reefs, strengthening sustainable fisheries, reducing plastic pollution, and addressing the impacts of climate change on the ocean. Read further

Ghana assures the UN of its commitment to peacekeeping

Accra, 29 May 2017 – Ghana has assured the United Nations of its support to UN peacekeeping. The Minister for the Interior, Hon. Ambrose Dery made this assurance at this year’s national flag-raising and wreath-laying ceremony held in Accra. He said “we can succeed in building a vibrant and stable democracy underpinned by a prosperous economy, only if we work relentlessly to maintain the peace and security…”

Hon Ambrose Dery, Min for the Interior

The solemn event was attended by the UN Resident Coordinator, the Chief of Defence Staff, the Heads of the various security services, members of the Diplomatic Corp and the various security services, traditional leaders and students. Four wreaths were laid to pay tribute to peacekeepers on behalf of the United Nations, the Government and people of

UN RC lays a wreath on behalf of the UN

Ghana, the Security Services and on behalf of the families of the fallen peacekeepers.

In an address, the UN Resident Coordinator, Christine Evans-Klock said development takes place when there is peace.  She said, the contributions of the

Both UN and Ghana flags being raised

peacekeepers to maintain peace “helps make it possible to pursue sustainable development…” She expressed the UN’s gratitude for Ghana contributions to UN peacekeeping operations.

Prior to this ceremony, a dialogue on the theme, “UN Peacekeeping: Investing in Peace Around the World” was organised last week to provide insight into Ghana’s investment and substantial presence in peacekeeping. The panel were represented by the Ghana Armed Forces,

Mr. Antwi-Danso delivers his opening remarks

the Ghana Police Service, the Ghana Prisons Service and the Ghana Immigration Service.  The event was hosted by the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre in Accra. The event was moderated by Mr. Vladimir Antwi-Danso, Director of Academic Affairs of the Ghana Armed Forces and Staff College.

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4th UN Global Road Safety Week events in Accra

Accra, 12 May 2017 – In support of the 4th United Nations Global Road Safety Week, the United Nations Information Centre, UNIC Accra, joined the World Health Organisation country office and its partners to raise the much needed awareness on the dangers of speed on our roads.

UNIC Accra rallied Heads of UN Agencies in the country to join the global #slowdown social media campaign championed in Ghana by the Accra Metropolitan Assembly Bloomberg Initiative Global Road Safety (AMA-BIGRS). Among the participants were heads of ILO, UNDP, UNOPS, UNHCR, UNICEF and the Resident Coordinator, Christine Evans-Klock.

UN RC [1st left], Dr. Kaluwa [m] & Mr. Kufour [R]

A press briefing was later organized by UNIC Accra on behalf of WHO to climax the week-long road safety observance. In Attendance were the WHO Country Director, Dr. Owen Kaluwa, the Programme Coordinator of AMA-BIGRS, Mr. Osei Kufour and the UN Resident Coordinator.

Addressing the media, Ms Evans-Klock said public education is key to reduce speeding on our roads and called for action by the Ghana Police Service to be vigilant in enforcing road safety laws on our streets.

A cross section of the media

For his part, Dr. Kaluwa said “real, sustained successes at reducing road traffic deaths will only happen when road design takes into consideration the need of all road users – motorists, motorcyclists, cyclists and pedestrians. He further called on the international community, national governments and civil societies to act on existing evidence on what works to save lives on the roads.

Responding to questions from journalists Mr. Osei Kufuor stated that measures are being put in place to intensify advocacy toward road safety.

Two Ghanaian peacekeepers to be awarded posthumously at a ceremony at UN Headquarters

Accra, 23 May 2017 – The United Nation Headquarters will observe the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers on Wednesday, 24 May.  Secretary-General Antonio Guterres will lay a wreath to honour all fallen peacekeepers and will preside over a ceremony at which the Dag Hammarskjöld Medal will be awarded posthumously to 117 military, police and civilian personnel who lost their lives while serving in peacekeeping operations during 2016.

Two fallen peacekeepers from Ghana are among the 117 who will posthumously receive the Dag Hammarskjold medal.  They are Lance Corporal Emmanuel Sakyi, who served with the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO); and Staff Sergeant Boniface Atanyik, who lost his life while deployed with the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL).

In a video message to mark the Day, the Secretary-General said:  “Every day, peacekeepers help bring peace and stability to war-torn societies around the world.  On the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers, we pay tribute to the more than 3,500 peacekeepers who have given their lives in the service of peace since 1948.”

For his part, the Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Jean-Pierre Lacroix, said: “We pay our greatest respects to the committed and courageous peacekeepers who are no longer with us today. I offer my deepest and most sincere condolences to the families of those we honour and to the bereaved. It’s critical that we continue to invest in peace and make every effort to carry forward their noble work, and that we continue to pursue reform efforts to make United Nations peacekeeping more efficient and effective. That is the best way we can honour the memories and sacrifices of our fallen peacekeepers.”

Today, more than 96,000 uniformed personnel from 124 troop-and-police-contributing countries serve under the blue flag, alongside more than 15,000 international and national civilian staff and nearly 1,600 United Nations Volunteers.

Ghanaian officers carrying wreathes to be laid in honour of fallen peacekeepers

Ghana is the 10th largest contributor of uniformed personnel to UN peacekeeping.  It currently deploys more than 2,700 military and police personnel to UN peace operations in the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Haiti, Lebanon, Liberia, Mali, South Sudan, Sudan and the Western Sahara.

The International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers was established by the General Assembly in 2002, to pay tribute to all men and women serving in peacekeeping, and to honour the memory of those who have lost their lives in the cause of peace.  The Assembly designated 29 May as the Day because it was the date in 1948 when the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO), the world body’s first peacekeeping mission, began operations in Palestine.

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Time to say “for every child in Ghana, let’s be fair.”

Accra, 9 May 2017 – Walk past any school yard with a group of children playing their favourite game, and it won’t be long before you hear the phrase, “It’s not fair! It’s not fair!”

As adults, we hardly say this. Not because we see less injustice as we grow up, rather society teaches us to become more accepting of the fact that sometimes life is just not fair. The issue though, is that if we do not call out unfairness for what it is, we begin to tolerate it. Worrying, as unfairness – or inequity – can also have a lasting detrimental impact not just on one person but on the community and society at large.

Children at a UNIC Accra-led outreach

Unfortunately, the landscape is not equitable for children across Ghana.  Let’s take the example of six-year-old twins Ata and Ataa. Ata is given ten mangoes to eat while Akosua is given two.  Is this fair? Of course not. So what if we were not talking about mangoes, but about the number of times they are taken to the clinic when sick, or going to school? Say, then, on the day Ata and Ataa are at the right age to be enrolled into Primary One Ata is taken to the school and attends every day. Ataa meanwhile is told her time will come and stays home to help with chores instead. Fair?

Unfortunately, this scenario is a reality for too many children across Ghana.  Currently 90 percent of boys and girls are enrolled in primary level.  This means 10 percent of children – that’s one child in every ten – is not in primary school. This is a significant proportion of children denied the chance to reach their fullest potential. And that is not fair.

A child on a school compound

What if within that 10 percent of unschooled there was a child with the talent and ability to become one of Ghana’s most skilled surgeons competing with the likes of Prof. Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng?  Or the next Secretary General of the United Nations like HE. Kofi Annan? Turning a blind eye to these inequities does not just disadvantage the child who’s not able to get to school, it also obstructs substantial progress of the whole country.

It is not just education where we see these disparities.  So far not every child has access to good sanitation, in the form of household or school toilet facilities. Every child does not have easy access to adequate healthcare and not all mothers are given a chance to fully understand the benefits of feeding girls and boys well from birth.

How fair is it that a child born to a family in Accra can have up to 100 times as much an opportunity as a child born in Wa? Surely it should be that wherever a child lives in Ghana, she or he has a fair chance of achieving the same opportunities.

This imbalance of a fair chance for every child does not impact just the child, it can also affect the country’s entire economy. The economic costs of such inequity can be dramatic. Recent global data indicates that increasing a country’s average years of schooling by just one year can result in an 18 per cent increase in GDP per capita.

Because a child’s gender, family income, region where he is born and her ability or disability can play a significant role in determining the outcome in life, we need to level up the playing field. The starting line cannot be the same for everyone.  But substantial change can be achieved if the most disadvantaged are empowered to realise their own potential.

By investing more in education and implementing more equitable policies, we can reverse current trends in which the poorest and most marginalized miss out.

So, similar to children in a school yard, it’s time for us to start calling out unfairness. Together, we can say, ‘Let’s be fair. Let’s give every child in Ghana a chance to succeed.”

Let’s Be Fair, let’s even up the odds, so that every child has a chance to fully thrive and realise their fullest potential.  If we do, who knows what the landscape could be for Ghana’s next 60 years.

Written by: Susan Namondo Ngongi, UNICEF Ghana Representative