Some individuals and groups have benefited from the Australian High Commission’s direct aid program to enable them to empower the vulnerable in their communities and also develop structures to improve their livelihoods. 

High commissioner Andrew Barnes told JoyNews’ Hannah Odame that a total of AUD400,000 have been disbursed to support the groups involved in various projects across the country.

Three other countries, namely Mali, Cote d’Ivoire, and Sierra Leone also benefited from this year’s aid.

Mr. Barnes tasked the recipients to use the funds prudently.

“It’s targeted at a real project in small communities whether they be in Accra or up in the country areas of Ghana. We really only work with organizations that have a proven track record, ones that have delivered projects in the past and or who come highly recommended.

“And we emphasize to them their reputation is on the line as well as the Australian High Commission’s reputation. We’re using Australian taxpayers’ money for this and the Australian government wants to make sure that value is delivered for their money.

“And the recipients too understand this and they understand it’s a partnership which they have responsibilities to acquit the money and to be responsible and to be open about the work that they are doing,” he said.

One of the beneficiary groups is the Mental Health and Wellbeing Foundation. Its Project Manager, Dr Yaw Arthur says they would use the aid given them to refurbish the VIP ward of the Accra Psychiatric Hospital.

“In the next three months when you come you’ll see that the dormitories have been partitioned, patients will have their privacy, and there will be the creation of a recreation lounge for visitors as well as the patients when they want to relax.

“There will be the creation of a dining room where they’ll comfortably have their dining, and their toilet and bathroom facilities to be renovated for them to feel comfortable in; currently its not a pleasant sight,” he said.

One of last year’s beneficiary groups was RISE Ghana in the Upper East Region. It’s Executive Director Awal Ahmed tells JoyNews, the aid received was used to improve healthcare delivery in the Chuchulga Community, in the Builsa North District in the Upper East Region.

“The facility was so crowded that when a mother comes to seek service and she is been consulted given the information, other people can sit in and listen because there was no privacy.

“So the Australian High Commission provided a 20 bed capacity with two consulting rooms and then space for them to have privacy so that when you’re taking healthcare nobody is listening to what you’re doing and this has twenty beds and two delivery beds so that if mothers come they can deliver.

“Others were being delivered and they were discharged early because of pressure and some of the babies too were dying, so the Australian High Commission has contributed to reducing the burden of mothers, the death of babies and access to quality healthcare,” he said.