Healthcare in Ghana
Healthcare in Ghana has many levels to it. There are three primary levels: national, regional and district. Within these, there are different types of providers: health posts, health centers/clinics, district hospitals, regional hospitals and tertiary hospitals. On average, Ghana spends 6% of its gross domestic product on healthcare, and the quality of healthcare varies by region. Here are four facts about healthcare in Ghana.

4 Facts About Healthcare in Ghana

  1. Ghana has a public insurance system. In 2003, Ghana made the switch from the “cash and carry” system to public insurance. The “cash and carry” health system required patients to pay for their treatments before receiving care. Because of this process, few people were able to afford treatment. In response, the government established the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS). This system provides wide coverage, covering 95% of the diseases that affect Ghana. The coverage includes treatment for malaria, respiratory diseases, diarrhea and more. Between 2006 and 2009, the proportion of the population registered to NHIS increased by 44%
  2. Child mortality rates have decreased. Data from 2019 showed that 50 out of 1000 babies die before the age of five. While this may appear unsettling at first, the twice as high a few decades earlier. In low-income communities, there is a higher risk of death because of limited access to healthcare. To help prevent this, the NHIS provides maternity care, including cesarean deliveries. In the 1990s, Dr. Ayaga Bawah began a study to provide healthcare in rural areas to see if it would decrease mortality rates. Between 1995 and 2005, the study showed that when qualified nurses were working in communities, there was an equal distribution of child mortality throughout the country, rather than mostly in rural communities.
  3. Access to health services has increased. In rural communities, health posts are the primary healthcare providers. A 2019 study found that 81.4% of the population had access to primary healthcare in Ghana, while 61.4% have access to secondary-level, and 14.3% to tertiary care. Despite these relatively high rates of accessibility, approximately 30% of the population has to travel far to access primary facilities or see a specialist. To increase access to services, Ghana’s president, Nana Akufo-Addo, stated in June 2020 that he intended to build 88 more district hospitals.
  4. More and more scientists are being trained. Throughout Africa, scientists are being trained to improve research and the dissemination of information. The World Economic Forum has pushed for research in programs such as Human Health and Heredity in Africa. This program is dedicated to helping local institutes manage the diseases and conditions that affect its area. Another group, H3-D, trains scientists in many African countries, including Ghana, to focus on conditions that are prevalent in Africa, such as malaria, tuberculosis and cardiovascular disease.

These four facts about healthcare in Ghana illuminate the progress that has been made, as well as the work that still needs to be done. While healthcare has improved, the government must take more steps to increase accessibility for all throughout the country. With a continued focus on healthcare, Ghana will hopefully continue to provide more communities with health services.

Sarah Kirchner
Photo: Flickr

Computers in Ghana
As one of the world’s poorest countries, Ghana’s poverty rate rests at around 55% with only 24% of Ghanaians possessing access to the internet. As a consequence, this lack of access otherwise imposes economic stagnation on its youth population due to the mere lack of computers within the country’s education system. However, educators have recently begun utilizing this powerful resource of computers in Ghana access and information technology within communities — with its positive impact already beginning to show. While computers evolve and improve Ghana’s education system, upward economic mobility grows with it. Here are three ways that computers and new technologies are improving the standard of living in Ghana:

Teaching 21st-Century Job Skills to Teens

Including computers in the Ghanaian education system helps teens develop valuable 21st-century technology skills. In an era that places great emphasis on phones, laptops and wireless communications, technological proficiency is essential. Programs like the Ghana Code Club have taught nearly 1,700 students and trained over 300 teachers. However, the Ghana Code Club cannot replace computer science classes. Moreover, for Ghana’s youth to learn valuable computer skills such as coding, the Ghanaian education system will need to create more computer, science classes and further boost access to computers in Ghana.

Increasing Earning Power and Incomes

A Pew Survey showed that computer users with an internet connection are more likely to have higher incomes. To that end, the University of Ghana offers a dedicated computer science course, nurturing software programmers who have the potential to earn up to three times as much as their professors. However, only expanding these systems will truly allow them to reach a wider demographic of people. Currently, only around 36 people graduate from the University of Ghana’s technology program annually. Many other areas of the country still do not experience these positive impacts.

Breaking Gender Stereotypes

Although computers in Ghana are expanding social and economic standards, many traditional African communities profile against women and girls. New non-governmental organizations like STEMbees, a Ghana-based organization, allow young girls to learn coding in fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Other organizations – such as UNESCO’s Girls Can Code – also work to fight the battle against girl stereotypes in the African educational sphere. For example, UNESCO builds computer stations in Ghanaian villages and new schools equipped with the latest technologies.

Ghana is on the verge of a technological revolution as well as an industrial revolution. These two events will pull the country into a better future with greater opportunity for its children. As more computers get into the hands of Ghanaian students, the country’s standard of living continues to improve.

– Mihir Gokhale
Photo: Flickr

The Effects of Fast Fashion in West AfricaIn Accra, Ghana, landfills of rotting garments flood dumpsites. The place is overwhelmed with the results of fast fashion that no longer serves a purpose—but to take up space. In 2018, the United Kingdom’s interest in fast fashion has resulted in as many as 300,000 tons of clothing to be sent to landfills. This has resulted in the Kpone landfill being one of the main targets for the landfills in Accra. With the capacity of the landfills being quickly met, sanitation risks come into play. Residents of places like Kpone are now dealing with the blow of disease and solutions are needed to address the effects of fast fashion in West Africa.

What is Fast Fashion?

Fast fashion is the creation of quickly made cheap clothes that aim to fit the ever-changing trend of fashion. These clothes are likely to be advertised on Instagram and by retailers, such as Zara, BooHoo or ASOS. A majority of its operations are online and due to the popularity, 24% of all U.K. apparel sales were online in 2018. The continuous growth of the fashion industry has resulted in an expansion of landfills being filled with tossed clothing that no longer fit the trend. According to studies, the U.K. sends 10,000 items of clothing to landfills every five minutes, with places like Accra being overflooded.

The Kpone Landfill

In 2013, Accra’s most prominent landfill in Kpone opened. It served the purpose of receiving 700 tons of waste daily. The Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA), the local government, has also allocated the pick up of 70 tonnes of clothing waste from Kantamanto, Accra, daily.

This process began in 2016 and four years later Kpone is now overflowing with waste. However, despite Kpone receiving Kantamanto’s clothing waste, most of it does not reach the landfills and instead gets swept into gutters due to AMA’s inability to finance transportation for the waste.

Risks of Fast Fashion

Clothing waste tends to get tangled up in big knots that clutter up gutters and stop the flow of water and waste. These tangled messes lead to life-threatening floods and the spread of diseases such as malaria and cholera, which are especially devastating to the poor. The waste is leading to fatalities.

Kayayei, female transporters for waste, live near landfills in Old Fadama, Accra. These women breathe in the toxic air and carry up to 200 pounds of clothing to transport to retailers. It is not uncommon for these women to die by the weight they carry while on their travels, which could be up to a mile long. The sad reality of this is that women are risking their lives for less than a dollar to transport waste.

Efforts Being Made to Address Fast Fashion in West Africa

As of 2020, 7,800 men and women have worked toward the goal of collecting and recycling the waste in Kpone. These waste pickers are paid for their efforts and the work serves as a key survival tactic for those struggling to find employment. Approximately, 60% of recyclable waste has been collected by these workers.

However, despite the workers’ efforts being beneficial they are often looked down upon and are regularly met with harassment. Also, poor sanitation from the landfills put waste pickers at risk for health hazards. Yet, mobilizations among these workers have become common in recent times. International waste pickers associations have worked to have the local government in Kpone establish health posts near landfills and enforce sanitation rights.

The Future of Fast Fashion

The COVID-19 pandemic seems to have brought fast fashion to a halt. Christian Orozco, an associate of The OR Foundation, is optimistic about the future of fast fashion amid the pandemic. “The coronavirus has forced retailers that support fast fashion to close down their stores. This creates a big impact on the distribution of clothes and can slow it down,” explains Orozco.

Fewer people are purchasing clothing online due to the question of when they will be able to wear them out. Places like H&M, a huge retailer for fast fashion, have also been affected by COVID-19, leading to the closing of 250 stores worldwide. Additionally, clothing sales altogether have dropped by 34%, bringing forth the question of how the future of fast fashion will impact regions like West Africa.

Ashleigh Jimenez
Photo: Flickr

Empowering Women in Ghana
Over the past 20 years, women in Ghana have been increasingly entering the workforce. This is good news for the country as it is trying to reach the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), specifically goal number two of zero hunger, by the year 2030. Through empowering women in Ghana, the country might turn its zero hunger goal into a reality.

Female Entrepreneurship in Ghana

Women run around 46.4% of businesses in Ghana, making it one of the most ambitious countries for female entrepreneurship. However, the traditional, patriarchal roles are still prevalent, confining women to household roles like housekeeping, tending to the children, food production, etc. A lot of hindrances exist within the current system that inhibits women from entering the workforce. This includes land ownership rights, necessary training, time constraints and inability to provide collateral for initial start-ups. Women are also limited in their ability to do things independently from male supervision. This is because of their limited education, with males usually obtaining higher education than their female counterparts.

Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture

Elsevier, a Netherlands-based information and analytics company that has an emphasis on scientific, technical and medical content, conducted a primary study observing women’s empowerment through working in the pineapple sector (horticulture plantations). The data set consists of 420 married couples living on plantations in Ghana, and the results concluded that statistically, females who had employment had a positive impact on the overall household. Joint horticulture household results also showed that women had more of a say when it came to household decisions.

The income that women’s plantation jobs earned them gave them more leverage, as well as lessened the pressure their spouse had to be the sole provider for the family. Export-oriented horticulture not only plays a role in empowering women in Ghana but can help pull vulnerable populations in Ghana by employing them on these cash crop pineapple plantations. Additionally, it can help boost the country’s GDP, making the internal structure strong and autonomous.

Moreover, if Ghana put more incentives in place for female entrepreneurship, the country might be able to ensure zero hunger. If women are able to contribute financially, households will not be suffering from food insufficiencies due to the generation of an additional income, overall helping more families. This needs to occur by prioritizing equitable education for women, equal access to credit and protection of women-run small businesses. This way, more women will have the encouragement to join the workforce without any of the previous barriers discouraging them from doing so.

Traditional Ideas

Even after getting a job, many in Ghana still hold women to traditional roles in the home and bearing the extra burden of upkeeping a happy home life. This can be very difficult as both an entrepreneur and housewife, however, hopefully, their partners can be more understanding, creating a more balanced home life. However, traditional values still remain strongly-rooted in Ghanian culture. As a result, community cooperation programs for mothers to provide meal sharing and child care within the vicinity of each other might be of great assistance for mothers starting out at their new respective jobs.

Malnourishment and Food Insecurity in Ghana

Malnourishment is an issue that goes hand-in-hand with food insecurity in Ghana. This is especially a problem specific to the rural areas where food insecurity is disproportionately higher than in metropolitan areas. As many know, bad dieting can lead to a slew of health complications and a higher mortality rate. Therefore, diet literacy is a crucial aspect for women who are the ones typically preparing the food in Ghana. Women also have the ability to spread the word in these small villages as community is a key part of Ghanian culture.

Encouraging Diet Literacy Among Lower-Income Women

Studies have occurred regarding lower-income women in rural areas, but they are few in numbers. A well-documented and successful study occurred in Winneba, Ghana on high school students. The program included food selecting skills, preparation and food management. The results indicated a positive correlation between diet literacy programs and diet behavior, however, there is a lack of data on a larger pool of women. Having data on women from different demographics like diverse age groups, socio-economic class and education could give more accurate results on the viability of diet literacy programs.

Cross-comparative studies from abroad on low-income women indicate a high success rate of these diet literacy programs in Ghana. The government needs to be more proactive in its implementation of these programs in Ghana as empowering women will have an impact on entire families and villages. In order to reach Ghana’s no hunger goal, it should start with educating women on healthy behavioral practices.

The Potential of Backyard Farming

Additionally, observations have determined that backyard farming could be of great help to alleviate the disparities in food security between rural and metropolitan regions. The different climates between the North and South bring about different crucial staples for Ghanian cuisine. The process of truck farming helps to transport food items to different regions where grocery stores, restaurants and street markets can supply different food for purchase. Small-scale domestic backyard farming is very easy and makes healthy foods very accessible, encouraging healthy eating while alleviating rural hunger. These practices will aid women in becoming self-sufficient as well as increase food security in insecure regions, further empowering women in Ghana.

Ghana is making progressive steps in empowering women: this is especially occurring in the work sector with women owning almost half of the businesses in Ghana. This, coupled with more business incentives and diet literacy programs could really help the country reach its SDG goal number two of zero hunger by the year 2030. Women have proven (through various case studies as this article identifies above) that their ambitious involvements in the workforce have proven to be helpful, overall empowering women in Ghana by giving them autonomy and independence that they have never seen before. Economically, it helps alleviate the pressure on men to be the sole breadwinner; rather, men and women disperse the roles between them creating a more symbiotic relationship where both parties can financially contribute to the family.

– Mina Kim
Photo: Flickr

Ending Child Labor in cocoaGhana and Côte d’Ivoire are responsible for collecting around 70% of the world’s supply of cocoa beans and the industry as a whole is worth over $100 billion. However, despite the economic importance of cocoa farming for these nations, there has been controversy surrounding the people doing the farming. A large proportion of those working at these cocoa farms are children, some as young as 5 years old. These children are subjected to health and safety hazards in the form of unsafe pesticides and dangerous tools. They are also exploited and paid less than adults doing the same job. Additionally, this practice pulls children away from possible education. In a broad sense, this issue of child labor in cocoa production has gone unsolved and ignored by the governments of Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire as well as the companies profiting off of the work. The World Cocoa Foundation has asserted its commitment to ending child labor in cocoa production.

Child Labor in Cocoa Farms

According to a recent study done by NORC, the number of children working in cocoa farms has not been improving and could possibly have increased in the past few years. It found that nearly 45% of children living in agricultural homes of Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire work in cocoa production. This adds up to about  1.5 million children. The same study found that in the last decade, the proportion of child labor in cocoa production has increased from 31% to 45%. As the cocoa industry continues to rapidly grow, there are no signs that child labor will decrease unless there is immediate and substantial intervention.

Past attempts to eradicate child labor in cocoa production have been poorly implemented. In 2001, a number of the largest producers of African cocoa agreed to end 70% of child labor by 2020. Significant progress toward this goal has not been achieved. A similar pledge was made in 2010 but has seen the same shortcomings. When asked of past failures in these areas, the president of the World Cocoa Foundation, Richard Scobey, said that targets were set “without fully understanding the complexity and scale” of issues of poverty and child labor in these African countries. With studies by the NORC and other groups, it seems as though the issues are better understood now than they were in past decades.

Response by the World Cocoa Foundation

In October 2020, the World Cocoa Foundation responded to the situation of child labor in cocoa farming. The Foundation came out strongly against the practice of child labor in cocoa production and set new goals to deal with the issue. Focused on Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire, the first goal set is an increase in the availability of anti-child labor monitoring to 100% of locations and farms by 2025.

The World Cocoa Foundation has also announced other efforts to combat child labor that include efforts from companies, the governments of Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire and other stakeholders. Firstly, the Living Income Differential pricing policy is expected to provide $1.2 billion in additional revenue for cocoa farmers. For children specifically, the government of Côte d’Ivoire will launch a $120 million pooled funding facility for primary education that aims to reach five million children, with $25 million expected from the cocoa industry. Additionally, to boost household incomes and yields, leading companies will supply training, coaching or farm development plans to local farmers.

The Road Ahead

Past attempts to end child labor show that the situation in the cocoa industry is severe and complicated and therefore must be prioritized. As the World Cocoa Foundation recommits to ending child labor in cocoa production, collaboration and commitment will serve as important factors for the success of the endeavor.

– Matthew McKee
Photo: Flickr

Human Trafficking in Ghana
Human trafficking is a wicked global business that involves kidnapping people for slavery, forced labor or exploitation, robbing millions of people (largely women and kids) of their homes. Many children experience human trafficking in Ghana.

Human Trafficking in Ghana

Human trafficking in Ghana is a nationwide affair but is more prominent in the Volta region and the oil-producing Western region. Research from August 2016 reported that 35.2% of households consisted of trafficked children with 18% working in the fishing industry, 10% in domestic servitude and a few reports of early and forced marriage.

Since 2002, the International Organization for Migration (IOM), along with several NGOs and international organizations, has aimed to combat human trafficking in Ghana. These organizations mainly work towards rescuing, sheltering and rehabilitating victims.

The Importance of Community Outreach and Education

International Organization for Migration (IOM) organizes programs in the Volta, Central, Greater Accra and Brong-Ahafo Regions of Ghana to strengthen the ties between communities to effectively condemn and prosecute traffickers, provide intensive care for distressed victims and prevent trafficking altogether. The programs intend to educate the villagers about the dangers of child trafficking, international and national legislation on child rights and human trafficking as a culpable offense.

Traffickers do not always realize the immorality of keeping the kids away from their parents and schools. “For instance, Benjamin Tornye, a fisherman for 15 years, used to visit parents and ask them if their children could help him with his work. As he said, “children are good fishers.” He would teach them how to use the boat, swim and dive, and he believed he was doing the right thing.”

Therefore, rescuing trafficked children is much more than just freeing them from the clasps of exploitation. To make a real impact, the authorities must sensitize and educate people about human-trafficking; and create and maintain a peaceful environment for the well-being of the children.

Rehabilitation and Reintegration

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) and APPLE, a Ghanaian NGO founded in 1977, both rescue children from trafficking and bring them back to their families. Rescued children first go to a government-run shelter for up to three months before they reunite with their parents. At the shelter, they receive medical checks, health treatment, psychological counseling and basic education.

Additionally, a clinical psychologist inspects the victims to identify the ill-treatment that they have experienced which informs the creation of a personalized plan for rehabilitation. Next, the children attend school or undertake an apprenticeship with the necessary supplies. Otherwise, if they are fortunate enough, they go back home to their parents.

The children who return to their parents get to fulfill the fundamental right of all the children in this world: to grow up with a family. The authorities organize a background test and a compatibility test to ensure that the caretakers are suitable before handing over the child.

The development of the kids –in the family environment, school and apprenticeship– receives monitoring over a period of 2.5 years to ensure the safety and well-being of the child. Further, watchdog groups and surveillance teams have merged to prevent re-trafficking of children. Parents also receive livelihood assistance upon the homecoming of the children.

International Organization for Migration (IOM) educates the locals, national government officials, and the traffickers about the appalling effects of human-trafficking on a child. Further, it raises awareness on the issue and encourages a shift in the mindset of the people.

Accomplishments

With these wonderful initiatives and generous donations by people and organizations from all over the world, the International Organization for Migration (IOM), along with its partner NGOs, has been able to help victims of human trafficking in small ways.

As of now, IOM has rescued 732 trafficked children in Ghana and rehabilitated and reintegrated them into their respective communities. Additionally, of these children, 690 have been able to attend school with 20 graduating high school. Moreover, 10 have completed apprenticeships and are supporting themselves now, while 191 children have been able to reintegrate due to the sponsorship of private donors.

Beyond the apparent benefits to child victims of human trafficking, IOM has aided in other ways as well. In fact, it has granted education regarding trafficking to 130 communities and 48,533 community members. It has also benefitted 468 parents/guardians of trafficked children with micro-business assistance.

Finally, IOM has offered training to 50 social workers in the rehabilitation of child and adult victims of trafficking. It has also provided technical assistance in capacity-building on human trafficking issues to 150 government officials from the Police, Immigration, Naval and Judicial Services.

Government Support

The Government of Ghana introduced several policies, legislation and programs to address the main grounds of human trafficking. Consequently, to set up an all-inclusive approach, the government devised the Human Trafficking Act, 2005 (Act 694), providing a robust authorized framework to prevent human trafficking, prosecute the perpetrators and protect the victims.

The government of Ghana and the NGOs have had a modest impact in curbing the enormity of human trafficking by implementing preventive strategies. The government successfully established a capable board and conducting training sessions for law enforcement, immigration officials and the citizenry. Despite the best efforts to eradicate human trafficking and persecute domestic and international offenders, the number of human trafficking cases remains disappointingly high.

– Prathamesh Mantri
Photo: Flickr

Women's Rights in Ghana
People have explored the topic of gender rights for many decades as women’s conventional role in modern society drastically changed. This evolution changed how genders interacted with one another and challenged the conventional norms of patriarchy that went unchecked for centuries. Women’s rights in Ghana is important socially and economically. Although ahead of its neighboring counterparts economically, politically and developmentally, there is still a wide gender gap that needs bridging.

Beginning of Women’s Independence

Ghana is a West African country located on the Gulf of Guinea and enjoys a tropical climate. Ghana gained independence from British colonial rule in 1957. There is no denying the role of Ghanaian women’s benefaction to the outcome of this freedom, as it segued into the establishment of the National Council of Ghana Women in 1960. The council’s intent was to empower and benefit women’s rights in Ghana by developing vocational training centers and daycare facilities.

Efforts to propel women to the forefront of the country’s progression were lacking. The numbers show how far behind women were in comparison to their male counterparts. Ghana is “in the bottom 25% worldwide for women in parliament, healthy life expectancy, enrolment in tertiary education, literacy rate, and women in the professional and technical workforce.”

Enrollment in Tertiary Education

Tertiary education illustrated the gender gap in Ghana best. Looking at the reasons separating women from pursuing higher learning exposes the patriarchal ideology woven into society. In general, keeping girls in education raises a country’s GDP. According to a report by Water.org, increasing accessibility for children in Ghana “on a global scale, for every year a girl stays in school, her income can increase by 15-25%.”

Impact of Literacy Rates

The impact of literacy is as severe as reducing a country’s GDP. However, with such devastating numbers related to the gender gap in Ghana, the sinking literacy rates had to be addressed. Women in Ghana do not necessarily obtain the ability to read and write from receiving a formal education due to the consequences of the quick development of schools in low-income countries such as Ghana. There is a current disruption in educating students due to the exponential growth within education systems, which impacts the school’s full potential. However, the literacy rate for women in Ghana has made significant progress over the years. According to the World Bank’s data report in 2018, the literacy rate for females aged 15 or older is 74.47%. While the literacy rate for females aged 15 to 24 years old is 92.2%, increasing young girls’ independence.

Women’s Employment and Labor Force

Currently, 46.5% of the labor force in Ghana is female. However, these women participate in domestic labor, such as in the agricultural field, without any pay, which limits their independence. Despite the rights Ghanaian women have gained since the 1960s, the country has recognized that economic growth does not necessarily reduce gender-based employment and wage gaps.

Contrary to the women who receive no pay, women who earn a subsistence wage through agriculture are at risk of significant health issues due to the physically demanding nature. Ghana is a traditional-based society explaining gender-based roles. However, one nongovernmental organization defending women’s rights in Ghana is Womankind. The organization emerged in 1991 with the goal of ending violence against all women in Ghana. This can help increase their social rights and political power within the government. Over 600 women in Ghana received recognition for their professional training experience to construct their own political decisions within the last five years. The secondary school leadership roles consist of 30 young girls who studied management within the organization. As a result, this increases the chances of independence and rights for women in Ghana.

Developing Women’s Rights in Ghana

Women and men are legally equal in Ghana, and women’s rights in Ghana have made significant progress. However, multiple aspects of traditional society affect gender equality, impacting their rights as women. With educational empowerment and recognizing that economic growth does not necessarily mean women are receiving the same job opportunities as men, gender equality will be more promising in Ghana.

Montana Moore
Photo: Flickr

Efforts to Eradicate PovertyOn July 29, 2020, Ghana released its Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) report, which outlines the various conditions that contribute to poverty in the country. Instead of using a monetary metric, the report looks at education, health and living standards to interpret the rate of poverty and determine the efforts to eradicate poverty in Ghana.

Using data collected between 2011 and 2018, the report found the rate and severity of multidimensional poverty have reduced across Ghana, with significant improvements in electricity, cooking fuel and school attainment.

Overall, Ghana reduced its incidence of multidimensional poverty by nine percentage points from 55% in 2011 to 46% in 2017. This indicates that poverty itself has been reduced and the experience of the impoverished has improved.

Each dimension examined in the report is measured through specific indicators relevant to poverty in Ghana. The government then prioritizes the country’s needs by examining the various deprivations that the poor experience most.

The report concludes that the indicators that contribute most to multidimensional poverty are lack of health insurance coverage, undernutrition, school lag and households with members that lacked any education.

The report also reveals stark differences between poverty in rural and urban populations, with 64.6% of the rural population and 27% of the urban population being multidimensionally poor.

Based on the results of the report, it is paramount that resources must be allocated to the health and education sectors to improve the quality of life for the most at-risk members of Ghana, particularly in rural areas.

Efforts to Eradicate Poverty: Healthcare

The USAID is addressing the need for comprehensive healthcare reform through a multi-pronged approach to improve care for children and women in rural Ghana.

Since 2003, the Ghanaian government has developed and expanded the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), which provides residents with public health insurance. The program has provided many improvements to the healthcare system, but systemic barriers continue to limit the quality and accessibility of care.

In particular, a 2016 study published in the Ghana Medical Journal found that rural hospitals’ lack of personnel, equipment and protocol put women and children at the highest risk. This is attributed to poor nutrition, inability to seek neonatal care and lack of health insurance.

To address barriers to healthcare, the USAID first compiled a network of preferred primary care providers to allow healthcare workers to communicate, educate and synchronize their standards of quality care.

“The networks help connect rural primary health facilities with district hospitals, enabling mentoring between community health workers and more experienced providers at hospitals,” the USAID stated.

The second prong was providing training to government staff and frontline healthcare workers to better understand health data and its uses for maternal and child health decision-making. By using the network of providers and standardizing data, doctors are better equipped to determine whether patients need a referral to a specialized caregiver.

The USAID reports that these improvements have resulted in a 33% reduction in institutional maternal mortality, a 41% increase in the utilization of family planning services and a 28% reduction in stillbirths.

As the healthcare sector has grown stronger and poverty has decreased, the USAID and other outside support have scaled back aid to allow the network of health providers to operate autonomously.

This is a positive indication that the country is moving in the right direction to end poverty and improve the quality of life in the coming years, but it is also a critical moment in its development. The Duke Global Health Institute warns that the country must secure a robust medical infrastructure for the transition to independence to be a success.

According to the Duke Global Health Institute, if global aid is removed too early, the poor will suffer the most. Therefore, they state that it is essential that the government has a firm grasp on funding and organizing principals before they move away from outside aid.

Efforts to Eradicate Poverty: Education

The level of deprivation of education is also heavily dependent on rural or urban residence. The educational dimension is measured by school attendance, school attainment and school lag. In rural areas, 21.1%, 33.9% and 34.4% of the population is deprived of each respective indicator. In contrast, the deprivation is only 7.2%, 10% and 12.8%.

To combat education deprivation, the current government has vowed to make secondary education free in an attempt to retain students who cannot afford to continue their education past primary schooling.

Before secondary school was made free in 2017, 67% of children who attended elementary went on to secondary school. In 2018, the ministry of education reported that attendance had increased to 83%.

To promote education in rural areas, this past March the ministry of education presented over 500 vehicles, including 100 buses, to secondary schools throughout the country.

Efforts to Eradicate Poverty: Living Standards

Deprivation of proper sanitation ranked highest out of all indicators for living standards, health and education. The report stated that sanitation deprivation affected 62.8% of the rural population and 25.8% of the urban population.

Although more than 75% of the country lacks access to basic sanitation, little improvement has been made. Between 2000 and 2015, access only increased from 11% to 15%.

To encourage private investments in the sanitation sector, the ministry of sanitation and water resources hosted a contest between public and private entities to design liquid waste management strategies for different localities throughout the country.

In 2019, nine public and six private partners were announced as winners of a total prize of £1,285,000 and US$ 225,000 respectively – for excellence in the implementation of urban liquid waste management strategies.

Winning strategies included an aquaponic system that sustained vegetable growth with treated water and the rehabilitation of a treatment center to raise fish.

Overall, the competition provided education about sanitation to rural communities, increased access to private toilets and spurred economic interest in developing the sanitation system in Ghana.

Sophie Kidd
Photo: Flickr

Living on Less
The term “extreme poverty” is often used in political and humanitarian discussions. However, what does it really mean? About 734 million people around the globe live in extreme poverty. This means they live on $2 or less every day. It can be difficult for many people to grasp this concept. As a result, discussions about extreme poverty often focus on statistics in order to rationalize the issue. To truly comprehend what living in extreme poverty is like, statistics are not the only important information to take into consideration. Anecdotes and firsthand accounts from people living in this type of poverty are necessary for comprehensive understanding. They are the ones who can truly tell about their experiences and everyday lives as people living on less than $2 a day.

Serin Dossa of Lagos, Nigeria

Serin wakes up every day and begins making Koko, or porridge, to sell throughout the day. She makes the equivalent of $1.12 each day. Her husband does not have a job. Consequently, she has to take out loans to feed her family, including her young children. Although she works to save her money, it is difficult to do so when her family members fall sick so frequently due to unhygienic living conditions. She is the provider for the family like so many other Nigerian women in communities like hers.

Lal Mohammed of Kolkata, India

Lal pulls people and packages behind him on his rickshaw every day not because he likes to, but because it is the only stable job he can find. He supports himself, his wife and their three children. Lal takes the bus into the city every day where he then picks up his rickshaw and begins his long day of work. He sometimes walks up to 10 kilometers in just one day. Lal hopes his children will grow up to have a better education than himself. However, their family simply cannot afford to have any savings.

Akolgo A. of Salpiiga, Ghana

Akolgo is a peasant farmer, and his only source of income is his crop yield. In 2017, he put all of his money towards his farm crops in hopes of raising money to rebuild his home that was falling apart. Although he raised enough money to do so, his house flooded later that same year. His family has been homeless ever since. He receives $26 every three months from his government, but this is far too little money to rebuild his home how his family needs it to be.

Devli Bai of Rajasthan, India

Devli works as a day laborer doing manual labor. She takes the bus into the nearby city each day and waits for a contractor to hire her for the day. Her most common tasks include shoveling rocks and carrying rocks on her head at construction sites. She typically earns a little more than $2 each day, but the cost of her daily bus tickets dwindle that amount down so that she is living on less than $2 a day. She is divorced from her husband and raising her two children alone.

Who is Helping?

Although these stories are upsetting, they are crucial in understanding what living on less than $2 a day really looks like. The good news is there are several organizations doing great work to help those who live in extreme poverty. With over 70 years of experience, Oxfam International works with over 90 countries across the globe. In 2019 it directly helped 19.5 million people with their programs. It focuses on collaboration with communities who need help the most and long-lasting solutions driven by innovation.

The Organization for Poverty Alleviation and Development is another nonprofit organization. It is currently working on 31 global projects across several countries. One of its aims is to tackle issues one at a time in whichever community needs its help the most at a given time. It also has well-established emergency relief and response programs to prepare for the unexpected.

Another nonprofit fighting extreme poverty is Concern Worldwide. Its reach extends to 23 countries and its initiatives in those countries are guided by six central themes of poverty. In 2019 alone, Concern Worldwide helped 11.5 million people through their emergency response programs and 15.1 million people through their long-term development programs.

Living on less than $2 a day is something no human should have to endure, which is why nonprofits like these are so important in our contemporary global community.

Natalie Tarbox
Photo: Flickr

African supply chains
USAID recently announced its plans to invest $15 million in the development of a state-of-the-art research and training facility in Ghana that aims to improve African supply chains. Supply chains constitute the path that goods take as they go from a mere idea to a concrete purchase. Goods move through supply chains from companies to manufacturers and finally to buyers. Supply chains often operate on a global scale as communication and technology have progressed. Struggles to join capital-building and international supply chains prevent many African economies from experiencing serious growth.

According to Arizona State University research, healthy, efficient supply chains are essential for economic development. Furthermore, healthy supply chains are crucial to providing widespread access to necessary goods such as medicine and sanitary products. To grow African economies and expand access to resources, USAID is sponsoring a groundbreaking research and training facility in Ghana. It will be named the Center for Applied Research in Supply Chain-Africa. This facility aims to strengthen supply chains across the African continent.

A Research and Training Facility Rooted in Innovation and Education

The Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and University Technology in Ghana and Arizona State University, who have successfully partnered on projects in the past, will spearhead the Center for Applied Research in Supply Chain-Africa, also called CARISCA. Accordingly, the research and training center will function as a facility to “connect African researchers, practitioners, and businesses to supply chain assets around the world.” Additionally, the partnership between Kwame Nkrumah University and Arizona State University is a facet of USAID’s BRIDGE-Train program that seeks to connect American and African institutions in order to strengthen international relationships in education. Thus, the training center will not only connect business professionals but students and educators as well.

The Center for Applied Research in Supply Chain-Africa intends to boost economic autonomy in African countries. As a result, it focusses on providing marginalized populations with the opportunity to join expanding supply chains. USAID has committed itself to investments that will stimulate long-term growth. These will consequently reduce global poverty and decrease the need for international aid.

An African Free Trade Agreement

With the establishment of the African Continental Free Trade Area in 2019, the research and training facility in Ghana will likely prosper. The agreement will permit free trade between 28 African countries. Moreover, it will remove barriers that previously hindered movement through African supply chains. In 2016, only 18% of exports were intra-regional, meaning that relatively little trade is taking place between African countries. Researchers believe that by increasing intra-regional trade, many African economies could grow in order to make the whole continent a more dynamic force in international markets.

The development of the Center for Applied Research in Supply Chain-Africa in Ghana is a major investment in African economic growth. It will hopefully provide opportunities for innovation in African businesses.

Courtney Bergsieker
Photo: Pixabay