Female Farmers In Ghana
Ghana has endured volatile floods and droughts over the last decade. Detrimental weather is especially harmful to countries like Ghana as many of its citizens depend on farming to make a living. Only 10% of the northern half of the country is able to sustain itself without agriculture. Estimates have determined that up to $200 million has disappeared annually from the country’s earning potential. This is due to frequent floods and droughts in the last few years. These unstable swings in weather greatly compromise farmers’ ability to grow crops. This instability often hits female farmers in Ghana the hardest. It is often difficult for them to find other avenues of income during periods of erratic weather.

As a result, an international relief fund called the Adaptation Fund has channeled a portion of its money to teach female farmers in Ghana how to turn crops into finished goods. Finished goods allow the women to have an array of products to sell when floods and droughts occur.

Milling Machines

The milling machine is perhaps the most useful piece of machinery that the Adaptation Fund introduced. Milling machines make popular products like flour, cereal and granulated sugar. In Ghana, many women use milling machines to make shea butter, soy milk and kebabs.

When weather conditions prohibit the harvesting of crops, women can work at milling machines to minimize wasted time and maximize income. Milling machines make it possible for women to earn higher margins on their products. A bottle of shea butter will sell for more than raw shea since it is a finished good. All of the labor and cost of the machinery factor into the final price.  Thus, women actually have the potential to earn a little more when selling finished goods.

The Progress

More than 7,000 women have gained access to milling facilities with the Adaptation Fund’s contribution. Women are able to earn more money and diversify their diets. A lot of the women choose to bring some of the products home so that their families can experience a wider range of food than was available to them before the milling facilities. Moreover, white rice and corn are popular milled goods in Ghana.

The Adaptation Fund has also introduced farmers to other special skills and techniques for when the weather is not ideal. For example, volunteers offer courses on how to process honey and farm fish. By opening up new opportunities, women become more confident that they will be able to provide for their families.

The Importance of These Projects

As weather patterns continue to change, projects like the Adaptation Fund are crucial in ensuring a smooth transition into a new world. Traditional methods of making a living, such as farming, are no longer sufficient for people to earn an adequate wage. As the name suggests, it is critical to teach workers across the globe how to adapt to a constantly changing planet.

The Adaptation Fund has pledged almost $800 million to projects just like this since 2010. Fortunately, more than 100 projects are currently aiding people. Overcoming the challenges ahead will not be easy, but like female farmers in Ghana, every human is capable of adopting and implementing new solutions.

– Jake Hill
Photo: Flickr

solar-powered sink
The Ghanaian government was quite successful in controlling the spread of the coronavirus. Some individuals took on innovative measures to combat the spread of the virus as well, such as how a man in Ghana created a solar-powered sink.

When Ghana reported its first cases of COVID-19 on March 12, 2020, Ghanian president Akufo-Addo was quick to announce the relief plan that would go on to make Ghana one of the most well-adapted countries to fight the pandemic. This relief plan included containing the virus spread, implementing lockdowns, mitigating social and economic impacts of the pandemic and expanding medical facilities. The country paired this quick response to the virus outbreak with efficient testing and contact tracing. It featured pooled testing, a method where samples from multiple individuals undergo testing together to expand testing abilities. In addition, his plan used contact tracing apps to using drones to transport COVID-19 samples.

COVID-19 in Ghana

However, as the first peak of COVID-19 cases came and went and Ghana lifted safety guidelines, cases rose again. In turn, the Ghanaian government implemented the original relief plan. This brought about a short respite in the major Ghanaian cities. Yet, it was unlike the first bout of COVID-19 cases that infected the cities in the early summer of 2020. This new influx of cases largely afflicted the remote and rural parts of the country. In these regions, populations neither had access to the medical resources present in the large cities nor the economic means to quarantine away from their jobs. Consequently, cases in remote areas have soared. President Akufo-Addo explained how Ghana “treatment centers have gone from having zero patient to now being full because of the upsurge in infections,” and how the influx has resulted in the healthcare facilities being overwhelmed.

Sustainable Solutions

To combat the rapid spread of COVID-19 in the vulnerable, rural regions of Ghana, one young man took action. He saw a lack of accessibility to basic hygiene care and an ever-increasing amount of land pollution in his rural village. As a result, Richard Kwarteng Aning decided to solve two issues with one sustainable solution. By gathering used metal barrels, recycled plumbing materials and motion sensors, Mr. Aning was able to invent a solar-powered sink! His invention allowed those without hygiene necessities to cleanse their hands, destroy bacteria and mitigate the spread of COVID-19. This invention hugely benefited Ghanaians living in rural areas who would otherwise not be able to have proper cleaning resources. Anning invented his solar-powered handwashing sink to “help solve the COVID-19 problem.” He believed that the sink “will attract people to wash their hands” because placing sinks throughout villages makes them easily accessible to all.

How it Works

Anning’s solar-powered sink ingeniously solved both a need to combat the pandemic and a need to be more sustainable. He composed the sink out of solely recycled supplies and solar energy materials. The sink receives power through a solar panel disk located at the top of the sink; meanwhile, motion sensors control it. When the motion sensor detects a nearby hand, the first of two taps releases antibacterial soap. Seconds later, an alarm alerts the user that water will soon come out at a constant rate for 25 seconds. Since the sun powers the sink and people can handle it without any direct contact, the sink further mitigates any surface spread of the virus.

Government Support

Anning’s solar-powered sink quickly drew the attention of the Ghanian government and Ghana’s Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation offices. They patented the invention so that people can produce and sell it throughout Ghana and all of West Africa. President Akufo-Addo acclaimed the invention as stating that the “Ghanaian sense of enterprise and innovation is beginning to be felt” as a result of Anning’s hard work.

Caroline Largoza
Photo: Flickr

Power to Africa
In the digital age, access to the Internet has become a barrier to entry for much of society. Nowhere is this lack of access more prevalent than in Africa. Roughly two out of three Africans lack access to electricity, let alone the Internet. To address this staggering disparity in privilege in an age that the widespread use of electricity characterizes, several NGOs are working to bring power to Africa through a combination of innovative technology and locally-led distribution campaigns.

The Honnold Foundation

Founded by renowned rock climber Alex Honnold, The Honnold Foundation aims to promote equitable access to power worldwide. While the organization does work both domestically and abroad, many of its projects in Africa have focused on the distribution of solar lanterns and pay-as-you-go energy programs. These programs provide power to remote, off-grid communities. Through generous grants The Honnold Foundation has awarded to organizations such as The Solar Energy Foundation and SolarAid, the Honnold Foundation has provided clean, renewable energy sources to 12.3 million people. This has not only lit up a large swath of Africa but also eliminated the need for expensive and environmentally-harmful alternatives such as kerosene lamps. Additionally, the Foundation has provided solar power to 165 Ethiopian schools and 35 health centers, as well as more than 2,000 households.

Sustainable Energy for All

Sustainable Energy for All, or SEforAll, is an independent international organization. In partnership with the United Nations, it works to promote access to sustainable energy across the world. In Africa, SeforAll’s “Electricity for All in Africa” program is using a top-down strategy to alleviate regional energy poverty. SEforAll’s focus is threefold: first, it advocates for policy reform centered on the promotion of sustainable energy access for all, in conjunction with meeting sustainable development goals. The organization also utilizes a neutral platform to promote investment in sustainable energy in Africa. In addition, it accelerates the market for private sustainable energy companies and facilitates communication between companies and the public sector. In Africa, 44 countries have joined SEforAll’s initiative, with drastic long-term improvement expected in nearly all of them as more companies buy into the clean energy industry and countries adopt policy reforms.

Africa ICT Right

Many organizations are pushing valuable initiatives to bring electricity to remote and impoverished African communities. However, NGOs tackling the disparity in Internet access are less common. Africa ICT Right (AIR), is a nonprofit addressing the lack of Information and Communication Technology – or ICT – in Ghana. Some of AIR’s programs include projects to equip schools with computer labs and STEM teachers, programs to offer technological tools and learning opportunities to high school girls and innovative technological reforms in rural medical centers to reduce infant and maternal mortality. Above all, AIR based its mission on the following idea: not only does it benefit less affluent communities to have access to these technological tools, but it also allows the inclusion of diverse voices from areas such as Ghana.

Power for All

Power for All is an NGO that has dedicated itself to bringing power to Africans in rural areas through decentralized renewable energy sources. Rather than prioritizing one form of renewable energy, Power for All strives to promote a combination of different strategies to tackle increasing overall energy efficiency and availability. In addition to this goal, Power for All lobbies governments to reduce taxes on renewable energy sources. Furthermore, it incentivizes investors and banks to earmark funds specifically for the promotion of sustainable power sources.

ACRA

The Milan-based NGO ACRA is also spreading the benefits of electricity throughout several African countries through a variety of sustainable solutions, including the construction of small hydroelectric plants in rural areas. Organizations in Tanzania applied this strategy to a high degree of success. Plants turned over to local leadership and paired with education initiatives in the locales they power. What is particularly remarkable about ACRA’s programs is that it tailors them to the region in which they implement them. For example, ACRA’s hydropower programs in Tanzania work well in that region. However, in Senegal, ACRA has seen an even greater potential for the installation of solar panels to power remote communities.

The Push to Bring Power to Africa

The actions and goals of these NGOs point to a greater global appreciation for the value of integrating Africa. The work of these organizations will likely prove invaluable in bringing power to Africa. By incorporating Africans into the global economy, they better global communication networks with new and diverse perspectives.

Kieran Hadley
Photo: Flickr

The Success Story of Ghana's Electrical System Ghana’s electrical mini-grids have made the country a leader in capacity and access to electricity in sub-Saharan Africa. Ghana’s government and international institutions like the World Bank have worked together for over two decades to bring light to more than 30 million people. A major part of the success in the region is due to its focus on increasing reliability, distribution and renewable resources. Ghana is an example of what is possible when international forces come together to give aid to developing nations, transforming the countries into industrialized global partners.

Electricity in Sub-Saharan Africa

As of April 2020, USAID found that Ghana had 4,3999 MW of installed energy capacity. However, only 2,400 MW of energy is available due to Ghana’s reliance on hydroelectricity, fossil fuels and ailing power infrastructure.

On the other hand, Cameroon only had 1,558 MW of installed electrical capacity in 2017 and a population of more than 25 million. Moreover, Cameroon’s electricity access rate was only at 61.4% at this same time. Urban regions and rural regions have a massive disparity in access with 93.2% and 21.3% respectively. As such, Ghana’s electrical grids are improving at a much faster rate than those around them.

Creating Solar Mini-Grids in Remote Communities

In 2007, Ghana, in partnership with the World Bank, approved the Energy Development and Access Project. As of January 2021, the project has financed more than $210 million to Ghana. By September 2020, 1.73 million people in Ghana have gained access to electricity. The 2022 target is for a total increase in access for 1.95 million people. The international resources provided have helped Ghana’s government implement its national electrification plan and is the reason for its successful electrical system.

The Ghanaian government in 2018, through its National Electrification Scheme (NES), identified 11,000 communities connected to the national grid. The Ghana Ministry of Energy in 2019 stated that it cost $2 billion to reach this number. The Ghana government also estimates that about three million citizens lack access to the electricity grid.

What it Takes to Create Solar Mini-grids in Remote Communities

Ghana and its partners have been successful in providing more than 90% of Ghana with electricity access. However, funding has been a challenge. Extending electric grids to connect the remaining communities could cost up to $900 million. The country also faces a shortage of funding due to “strict conditionalities of development partners and the rising cost of borrowing.” In order to deal with this issue, the government has established a unique initiative.

Mini off-grid electricity was implemented by NES to meet the rising cost of connecting rural communities to the national grid. This initiative brought light to these remote regions by installing 20 mini-grids in 2019. The average cost of connecting a household to a mini-grid is $2,000 and have set aside funds for many more.

The Benefits of the Mini-Grid

Ghana’s infrastructure, which its national energy grid relies on, is often unreliable in remote areas. While Ghana’s electrical mini-grids have more upfront costs, it offers more reliable electricity. Pediatorkope is a small island town in Ghana and one of the first regions to receive a mini-grid in Ghana. The World Bank’s report outlined that while the costs of the grid were more significant than if they had connected the town to Ghana’s national grid, the solar mini-grid provided a more reliable system for the town. Ghana’s national grid is under a lot of stress. These mini-grids offer reliable energy distribution systems for remote communities, providing tangible benefits to Ghana’s rural population.

The World Bank stated that mini-grids would “provide wider economic benefits to the community.” Solar power is one of the renewable resources that play a significant role in these mini-grids. Native Ghana companies, international energy corporations and governmental agencies supply, maintain and operate these mini-grids.

Naomi Dagrey, a Ghanaian citizen with a mini-grid has been financially saved by her community having consistent access to electricity. “Once we got connected to electricity, I invested in a refrigerator which I use [for] frozen beef and chicken,” she stated in a World Bank promotional video. The success of Ghana’s electrical mini-grids has changed the way people are able to live and has opened the doors for future possibilities.

– Jacob Richard Bergeron
Photo:Flickr

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