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Australian High Commission contributes GH¢3.5m to local NGOs

The Australian High Commission in Ghana has officially launched its 2016/2017 Direct Aid Programme (DAP).

DAP is a development assistance initiative that provides local Non- Governmental Organisations (NGOs) with one-off grants to assist their operations.

Out of the 260 NGOs that lodged applications, 24 grantees were chosen across the nine nations under the High Commissions purview, which include Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Sierra Leone, Senegal and Togo.

On Wednesday, representatives from the 24 NGOs were invited to the High Commissioner’s residence to formally accept their grants and take part in an informal training and networking session.

The High Commission looks at a diverse range of sectors to provide assistance, with a specific focus on the environment, disability support and gender equality, when assessing applicants.

Among the 12 organisations from Ghana chosen to receive grants were the Salvation Army, Environment 360, Ghana Federation of Physically Challenged and the Kumasi Institute of Tropical Agriculture.

Speaking at the launch, Australian High Commissioner, Andrew Barnes, acknowledged the accomplishments of the NGOs the DAP has been able to assist, noting, “the High Commission is very pleased that, through the Direct Aid Program, we are able to support the provision of many life-transforming interventions for some of society’s most vulnerable people, notably people with disabilities, women and children.”

And while the Australian Government has reduced total aid spending considerably over the last two years, now at its lowest level in history, according to data compiled by the Australian National University’s Development Policy Centre, the DAP budget in West Africa has, in fact, increased to almost Ghc3.5 million for this year’s grant round.

Mr Barnes noted that the Direct Aid Program has been an important part of the High Commission’s work in West Africa, going on to mention, “The reason these projects have been so successful over the years is that they are organic, home-grown initiatives, implemented by local organisations.”

Since the program began in 2004, the Australian High Commission has provided over 22 million Australian dollars in support to NGOs across 180 projects.

Trocaire, an overseas development agency of the Catholic Church in Ireland focusing on resource rights and women’s empowerment, was one of the recipients of this year’s grant round, and one of the few NGOs that have received grants in consecutive years based on their impressive track record.

Marleen Masclee, the regional donor manager for Trocaire, spoke on the connection her organisation has had with the DAP and High Commission.

“We have had a very good relationship with [DAP],” she said, “we felt that together we will work to find a solution.”

She also noted that the training and networking session provided will greatly assist Trocaire and other organisations in providing more efficient and impactful benefits to the communities they assist and programs they run.