For some NGOs in the Northern Region of Ghana, the days of charity and freebies given to communities are over. For these NGOs, communities have to be empowered enough to take up responsibility of providing for themselves their basic needs and to instill in them good maintenance practices.
This is also partly because international donors are gradually moving away from handing free facilities to communities, and are focusing rather, on providing platforms for them to use their own skills and strength to get them, so as to ensure sustainability with maintenance, which will be motivated by ownership.
The Wuni Zaligu Development Association (WUZDA), sees a lot of business opportunity in the Northern Region and is taking an initiative to raise the understanding of members of especially its operational areas, to take advantage of them.
WUZDA is looking at an approach where it uses Information Technology and Media Communication to create business opportunity especially around its Water and Sanitation Module.
It is in this light that the organization brought together its partners who provide it with ‘IT’ and Media Communication services, to rally ideas around how they could use basic technical tools to make business possible.
The Information Technology Foundation, Klink Consult (Media & Comm.) and Westland Communications, are the partners that ensure every activity in the operations of WUZDA reaches the public and their donors.
They are also responsible for general information circulation within the organization, awareness creation on operations, sensitization of people, behavior change activities and many more.
The new wave of business approach was major in the discussions aside the usual dissemination of information.
Programme Manager for WUZDA, Mr. Ziblim Abdul Karim reminded partners of the need to join in the gradual movement of donors away from the charity initiatives embarked upon by NGOs and rather see business opportunity in every problem that a community is identified to be facing.
Key amongst the operations where Mr. Ziblim called for partners to focus on, is the Water and Sanitation Credit Module WUZDA has been using to provide credit water facilities and household latrines for communities across northern Ghana.
He admonished partners on how their young companies could grow with the mindset of solving problems and taking advantage of the problems to create businesses for themselves and for the community members.
He outlined some basic planning ingredients businesses need in order to grow and to make an impact.
Mr. Ziblim said for a company to make any stride, it needs to put together policies and internal initiatives to enable it stand firm before it can run its operations.
According to him, building standards with policies such as Staff welfare, gratuity, steps to ensure gender balance, the preparation of administrative and financial manuals are but a few of those needed to get the company running.
Discussions were done on the individual partners and their areas of expertise in service provision and how they can contribute to WUZDA’s realization of the goals set for the coming years.
The Information Technology Foundation (ITF), provides IT services from websites to developing applications, shooting of video documentaries, graphic designing, creating and managing social media platforms to push behavior change, among others.
Klink Consult is a Media and Communications firm which advises, creates and manages general communication and information for its clients through websites, radio and TV.
Writing stories and the use of audio, visual and audiovisuals to tell real time stories are part of the basic works of Klink, including staff training on effective communication.
Westland Communications provides its services around internet networking, installation of CCTV cameras, tracking devices for vehicles to check theft and to monitor staff movement for security.
The design of newsletters after content is put together, is part of what WESTCOM does.
WUZDA is looking at working with these three partners to continue to make itself a household name, use information technology to build opportunity out of community challenges for the people and other stakeholders and to help community members have good maintenance culture.
Mr. Ziblim expressed satisfaction at the level of cooperation from the partners to go the direction WUZDA wants to go for mutual benefits, and tasked them to look beyond making immediate money out of services they provide but take steps now to ensure they reap what they sow later.
WASH Programme Coordinator, Mr. Ibrahim Abdul Ganiyu stated that partners are required to work hand in hand with each other where necessary, to help the organization realize its goal projects.
Much of the work to be done by these Communication and ‘IT’ partners is to take off with action especially on WUZDA’s new project on household drip irrigation to support farming for food security, which is funded by German donor, Bread for the World.
According to Mr. Abdul Ganiyu, the action is that by the end of the first year into this project, WUZDA should have a reason to extent its partnership with the various partners based on the outcome of engagements.
WUZDA started operation in 2004 and has since impacted the lives of local people in its operational areas through the provision of household latrines and water storage facilities, training to farmers on organic compost preparation, drip irrigation support for farming, micro credit group initiatives for local women and others.