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Ghanaians and North Dakotans Exchange Knowledge, Ideas to Improve Management of Disasters and Construction Projects
The second of two missions to Ghana recently concluded for a team of three North Dakota Army National Guard soldiers and a civilian volunteer. The trips in early December, 2008 built upon a 4-year relationship and fostered the exchange of ideas and
The second of two missions to Ghana recently concluded for a team of three North Dakota Army National Guard soldiers and a civilian volunteer. The trips in early December, 2008 built upon a 4-year relationship and fostered the exchange of ideas and information to improve training and crisis response for both North Dakota and Ghana.

During the two-week event, the team led a disaster management workshop to share U.S. Army best practices for construction project management. They also discussed plans for a future visit to Ghana next year by a U.S. element to collaborate with Ghanaian military engineers.

At the workshop, participants reviewed the principles of disaster and emergency management and received an overview of the Incident Management System. Similar workshops have been conducted in seven of Ghana's 10 regions.

The exchanges and reviews of lessons learned and best practices have helped both entities improve their organization and response to such disasters, such as flooding, which is common in both North Dakota and Ghana.

"The events have been well-received," said Doug Friez, program advisor. "Ghana officials have actually credited workshops with improving their response to flood events in northern Ghana in 2007 and 2008."

In addition to the training, the U.S. team distributed soccer balls to schools and orphanages in northern Ghana.

"This workshop was held at a church/school facility, and the kids were on the playground daily playing 'football' with some pretty ragged balls. We decided to provide a couple of new ones," Friez said. "We wanted to just drop them off very quietly early one morning but the school officials wanted us to witness the joy of the kids when they receive the balls. It was pretty moving that something so simple as a few soccer balls could elicit so much happiness."

Since 2004, the North Dakota National Guard has fostered a professional relationship with Ghana as part of the Department of Defense's State Partnership Program. The program aligns states with partner countries to encourage the development of economic, political and military ties.
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