Patrick Darry is a 19 year old student of Nandom Senior High School from Sigri in the Wa West District of the Upper West Region.
Patrick is at home because of the double track system being implemented by government. He is part of a big family; which is typical of where he comes from, but times are hard.
Being young and energetic, Patrick hates idling about when he is not in school. He also sees the situation his family is in, and would like to do the little he can to earn some money and support himself and the family.
Patrick doesn’t have much of any formal work experience but farming; he knows how to do it well.
During the rainy season, he helps the family on the farm when he has the time. Their lives depend on the income derived from the sale of the farm produce.
With so much time on his time now, Patrick would have loved to go into dry season farming but he cannot and his reason is simple.
There is no source of water for his crops. Now, Patrick is in a fix. He doesn’t know whether to stay at home and do nothing or move to Kumasi to do menial work to eke out a living.
Years before, Patrick would have without a second thought left for Kumasi in search of money.
Sometimes he doesn’t want to go back to school because of the little he earns, but times have changed and he is reluctant to go.
Patrick who is a second year student of the Nandom Boys Senior High School has been educated on rural-urban migration.
He knows that when all the young energetic people go to work in southern Ghana, there is a brain drain and Northern Ghana remains under-developed.
Despite his knowledge on the effects of the unrepentant rural-urban migration, Patrick still needs money to survive, money he will not get from his hometown Sigri.
The 19 year old Patrick Darry has to make a tough decision, “to go or not to go?”
In Ghana, the high spate of rural-urban migration in the country is attributed to the large number of businesses in the urban centres in relation to rural areas.
This is according to the Ghana Statistical Service’s 2017 Regional Spatial Business Report (RSSR) and District Business Registers (DBRs).
Rural-Urban migration is both a socioeconomic phenomenon and a spatial process involving the movement of people from rural areas into cities, either permanently or temporary. At present, it occurs mainly in developing countries like Ghana, as they undergo rapid urbanization.
Job opportunities created by industrialization attract the surplus rural labor to the cities to seek higher salaries through employment in the industrial sector.
During my interactions with young Patrick Darry, I got the sense that he would love to be in his community, work, earn a living and help it grow. This is why Patrick looks forward to government’s One Village One Dam (1V1D).
Government introduced the ‘1V1D’ as part of efforts to curb rural urban migration. The dams which are to be spread across the three regions of the North are to complement the single rainy season.
This is to ensure that farmers are able to farm throughout the year. About 570 dams have been promised by government.
They are to be sited or being sited in selected communities to boost crop production.
Although Patrick is excited about the programme, he is dissatisfied that his community, Sigri, has been left out. He tells me the community produces rice, yam, maize, millet and some other vegetables. He hopes that government would eventually turn heed to the cries of his community.
Patrick is not alone, the Assembly Member for the Varempere Electoral Area Nicholas Damuo Gyirikar is unhappy that his community has been left out of government’s ‘1V1D.’
He told me the Ghana Social Opportunities Project (GSOP) started to build a dam, but the project has been stalled for years. The water in the partially built dam is therefore unable to serve them all-year-round; thus inappropriate for drying season farming.
Mr. Damuo Gyirikar says after hearing of government’s proposed ‘1V1D’ he quickly wrote a proposal to the Wa West District Assembly to be considered for the construction of the dams. He is however, hopeful that in time, their plea would be heard.
The story of Patrick Darry and Nicholas Damuo Gyirikar is no different from others in various communities across the regions. In the dry season, most of the youth migrate to the southern parts of the country to engage in menial jobs for survival while waiting for the rainy season to start farms in their communities.
It is my firm conviction that when well executed, government’s 1V1D would not only help boost crop production, but also help curb the annual rural-urban migration. The citing of dams must be devoid of the usual politics but rather on critical needs assessment.
Story by Mark Smith