Anemia in Ghana

In Ghana, a country nestled in West Africa, 66 percent of children aged six months to five years have moderate to severe anemia. While other conditions may garner more publicity, anemia in Ghana is widespread and debilitating.

Anemia is a blood disorder with which there is an insufficient amount of red blood cells. Since red blood cells supply the entire body with oxygen, anemia affects multiple organ systems. Background anemia is the most common form of micronutrient deficiency; it affects “over a quarter of the global population.”

Causes of Anemia

Although anemia in Ghana has several causes, a low intake of easily absorbable iron is a known leader. Other nutritional deficiencies, such as a lack of vitamin A, folic acid, vitamin B12 and zinc, also lower iron levels in the body.

In Ghana, the burden of anemia falls more heavily on women than men. Post-pubescent women are at increased risk for the condition due to monthly blood loss of menstruation. USAID studies find that 29 percent of women in Ghana are anemic.

Primary infections such as malaria, HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and those from parasites such as helminths can also lead to secondary anemia. According to UNICEF, 3.5 million people contract malaria every year in Ghana, making the country account for 4 percent of the global burden of malaria. Furthermore, UNAIDS reports that 330,000 people were living with HIV/AIDS in Ghana in 2018. The prevalence of these infections has increased the population’s exposure to anemia.

Consequences of Anemia

According to Mayo Clinic, those who are anemic may experience fatigue, shortness of breath, dizziness and chest pain. Left untreated, anemia can cause premature birth in pregnant women, which often leads to infant mortality. Young people who experience anemia can have “irrevocable cognitive and developmental delays and exhibit decreased worker productivity as adults.” Untreated severe anemia can additionally result in an irregular heartbeat, heart failure, and even death.

While the health ramifications due to chronic anemia are devastating, having a largely anemic population also has national economic consequences. For example, chronic fatigue from anemia in Ghana could mean an increase in lost workdays and diminished productivity at work. While these indirect costs can be difficult to quantify, they still deserve attention.

Preventing Anemia

To manage anemia in Ghana, the government is offering nutritional support through supplementation and education about iron-rich foods. However, it must also target the rise and persistence of these infections. A multi-focal approach has been and will continue to be necessary.

While the consumption of fruits and vegetables drastically lowers the risk of contracting anemia, generally, rural populations in Ghana have an increased risk of mild to severe anemia. One study suggests that women in urban areas consume more fruits and vegetables, which contributes to the lower incidence of anemia.

As mortality from malaria for children under five years of age has declined drastically from 14.4 percent in 2000 to 0.6 percent in 2012, so has the incidence of new HIV infections from its peak in the late 1990s. While the reduction in each of these primary infections is enough to celebrate, it also means a diminished risk of secondary anemia.

Ghana is hopeful. In 2014, the country achieved 93 percent iron-folic-acid (IFA) supplementation in pregnant women. This nearly ubiquitous IFA supplementation is a milestone because it will lead to less preterm labor and fewer neonatal disorders.

While this is by no means the end of Ghana’s struggle with anemia, the country has made strides toward combatting primary anemia from nutritional deficiencies and secondary anemia from widespread infections like HIV/AIDS and malaria. The future appears positive for anemia in Ghana.

– Sarah Boyer
Photo: Flickr

Drones Bringing Vaccinations

Over the past few decades, Ghana has been able to drastically improve its vaccination rates through education and communication with communities. Right now, vaccination rates for diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough are at 98 percent in Ghana, compared to 94 percent in the U.S. The child mortality rate in Ghana has dropped by 30 percent and is now at 5 percent.

Additionally, measles, which used to be one of the predominant causes of child mortality in Ghana, has now been nearly eradicated. This is due in part to the double-roll out in 2012, which was the first time any African country introduced two vaccines at the same time, the pneumococcal and rotavirus vaccines. It proved to be wildly successful, reinforcing Ghana as a model for neighboring countries.

Despite these improvements, one of the main roadblocks to increasing the coverage and effectiveness of vaccines in Ghana is accessibility. One promising solution to this roadblock is drones bringing vaccinations to Ghana.

Drones Bringing Vaccinations to Ghana

Planning to reach the remaining unvaccinated Ghanaians, the Ghanaian government recently launched the start of its partnership with Zipline, a company utilizing drones to deliver medical supplies to underserved regions. The technology increases the accessibility of essential medical supplies without having to wait for the costly infrastructure development of better roads and train access. Zipline is currently able to provide 13 million people vital medicine incredibly quickly. At the four distribution centers located throughout Ghana, doctors can place an order via text for any necessary medications and reliably expect a delivery within 30 minutes.

In addition, one of the primary challenges in increasing vaccination coverage is access to electricity for refrigeration. Zipline’s quick and reliable delivery system solves this issue as supplies are received still cold. This innovative battery powered medical delivery system is able to deliver goods pilotless, thus reducing emissions costs and medicine transport costs. This makes it an incredibly cost-effective mode of transport, aiding initiatives to offer free vaccinations to children in Ghana.

With dozens of hospitals relying on Zipline for emergency medicinal deliveries, access to life-saving medical supplies has already increased dramatically in hard to reach areas. In Rwanda, where Zipline has served for the past 3 years, maternal mortality rates are dropping drastically due to emergency drone deliveries of rare blood types.

Just a few decades ago, Ghanaians were in a statistically alarming situation. The introduction of Zipline is bringing medical supplies to Ghanaians who still lack access. With plans to eventually provide access to vital medical supplies all around the world, Zipline appears to be revolutionizing the world of medicinal accessibility for the world’s underdeveloped regions. As Zipline is a relatively new company, it’s too soon to have data determining long term impacts. However, given the rapid changes Zipline has brought to Ghana and Rwanda’s medical access already, it’s feasible to imagine a future where drones bringing vaccinations is commonplace.

– Amy Dickens
Photo: Flickr

Census Technology in GhanaGhana is a country with a complex history and a rich culture. Located on the west coast of Africa, it carries the distinction of being the first sub-Saharan country to achieve the milestone of halving their extreme poverty rates by the year 2015, the number one mission of the Millennium Development Goals plan proposed by the U.N. It has consistently been moving up the poverty index list as well, currently sitting at 133 out of 181 on the World’s Richest and Poorest Countries list in 2019.

Why Change is Needed

With the clear and strong strides that Ghana is making towards achieving economic stability, the country is developing innovative ways in which to continue the positive progression of change. One of their first and foremost goals is to achieve an accurate nationwide census by 2020. Census technology in Ghana has up to this point been nonexistent with data collection previously done through written surveys by hand. Hosting a quickly growing population of over 30 million people, the process has been tedious and error marked, leaving out up to three percent of the country’s citizens during every effort attempted.

It is impossible to assess a country’s population and effectively distribute help without knowing exactly how many people are in need of aid. Recognizing the true necessity of new census technology in Ghana, the country’s government has allocated a budget of $84 million towards the project and begun investing in brand new technology that will gather data about the population.

How It Will Help

The new census technology in Ghana primarily involves the use of tablets and satellite imagery to accurately survey residents. The information collected will provide a more accurate assessment of population demographics, a vital tool in poverty aid and assistance. In addition to information on age, gender and income status, the data will be used to assess general access to basic needs such as water, housing and educational resources.

This data-based development strategy will not only give Ghana more resources to fight extreme poverty but to hopefully tackle economic inequality as well. Accurate household financial data allows for government tax programs and welfare opportunities to be put into place, benefiting the country’s poor. Ghana’s Vice President Mahamudu Bawumia asserts the importance of balancing the population’s economic status overall, “We must count everyone, and make everyone accountable to pay their fair share in taxes that would be used to target assistance to those who may not have had access to critical social services previously.”

Census Technology and The Future

Census data and technology is slowly becoming a more prevalent tool in the fight against poverty. The U.N. Population Fund considers census data and population statistics to be a major resource, calling it “critical” in the development of remote countries. With access to a country’s statistical data, aid of all kinds can be more efficiently and effectively distributed. Census data is not only the wave of the future but a true testament to the good that can come from technology. Census technology in Ghana is one of the tech pioneers, finding a new and innovative way to fight—and hopefully end—the war on global poverty.

– Olivia Bendle
Photo: Flickr

The Impact of HIV on Women in GhanaIn Ghana, a nation in West Africa’s Gulf of Guinea, approximately 190,000 women and girls above the age of 15 are living with AIDS. This high number can be attributed to the lack of necessary resources and education. The social and gender norms for females in Ghana also put girls at a higher risk. In fact, women are two to four times more susceptible to HIV infection than men. Some organizations are working to educate and empower women in Ghana and reduce the transmission of HIV.

Gender Roles in Ghana

The expectation that women and girls stay apathetic and quiet about intercourse leads to their inability to speak up about safe sex. These stereotypes and expectations mean that women in Ghana have less access to education and information than men, which minimizes their ability to negotiate and argue the need for condoms and other forms of safe sex. Even if a woman has the necessary education, it is a stereotype that married women who want to use contraceptives are having an affair.

Symptoms of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are often asymptomatic for women even though they are not for men. The existence of an STD puts an individual at higher risk of HIV infection. So, when women go untreated they become more susceptible without being aware of it. Also, women have a higher surface area that is exposed to contact during unprotected sex than men, which leads to a greater risk of infection. These are just some of the reasons why education about safe sex is so important.

The impact of HIV/AIDS on women in Ghana also comes from their role as caretaker to those suffering from the illness. This is especially impactful when a family member becomes sick. When a woman has to spend much of her time caring for a family member with HIV/AIDS, this takes away from her work, household tasks, time for self-care and time that she could be spending with her children.

WomenStrong International in Ghana

A community of organizations, WomenStrong International, works with women and girls to end extreme poverty. Their goal is to “find, fund, nurture and share women-driven solutions that transform lives.” Women’s Health to Wealth, an organization within WomenStrong International, started a women’s clinic in Kumasi, Ghana. One of their goals is to deliver more information about reproductive and family health to women in Ghana. More information and education for women and girls would give them the ability to voice their wants, needs and opinions about their sexual health.

As one of the top diseases in Ghana, HIV/AIDS education and prevention is extremely important regardless of gender, but in the current climate, especially for women. Although leaps and bounds still need to be taken towards progression, there has been movement in the right direction through organizations such as Women’s Health to Wealth. With organizations fighting for equality and raising awareness, there is hope for improved health for women in Ghana.

Malena Larsen 
Photo: Unsplash

Tech Hubs in Ghana
Even with the challenges the country faces in establishing complete infrastructure, the positive influence of internet coverage in Ghana can be seen from the following data from 2016:

  • Over 18 different service providers offer easy access to the internet all over Ghana. These providers include BusyInternet, and Africa Online.
  • Over 2,900,000 of the Facebook users live in Ghana.
  • As of 2016, 28.4 percent of the Ghana population had access to the internet, opposed to a mere 0.2 percent in 2000.
  • The number of 7,958,675 internet users means that 20,074,700 people still live without internet access in Ghana.

Community-Influenced Tech Hubs

An African organization called Developers in Vogue provides a haven for Ghanaian women pursuing the education in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields. Women make up over 50 percent of the population in Africa but less than 20 percent of the science and engineering world in Africa. Developers in Vogue combats gender preconceptions on one level and lack of opportunity on another. Providing scholarships, training courses and a project-based curriculum for women seeking a STEM career, Developers in Vogue connects students with internship and jobs. Their aim is to inspire social impact through technology and problem-solving by using real-life cases from their communities in their curriculum.

Another company, Hopin Academy in Tamale, Ghana, works toward supporting students by connecting them to the courses most appropriate for their interests and skills. Through peer-to-peer development and local innovators, the tech hub connects Ghanaians from different backgrounds to practical niches in the local job market. One of the school’s students, Mercy Hammond, is studying BA in Development Education and had her secondary education at Aburi Girls’ Senior High School in the Eastern Region. She is the owner and director of Sparkle House Enterprise that was registered on June 28, 2017, and is involved in the production of jewelry made of both beads and soft metals.

Companies Partnering with Ghana Tech Hubs

As Christoph Fitih, Sales Director for Africa branch of Parallel Wireless states, African countries need to adopt new technologies to prevent further marginalization of Africa from the world economy and eliminate the widening of the current digital divide between Africa and the rest of the world.

Businesses in Ghana understand the time is ripe to create an online presence and even necessary as the world market starts to move more and more toward internet users. MEST, a Pan-African organization partnering with global tech giants, offers aspiring entrepreneurs a rigorous, fully sponsored 12-month program to top-graduates in several African countries including Ghana. Training includes business, communications and software development as well as hands-on project work, giving graduates the chance to pitch their final idea to the board and receive seed funding for their entrepreneurship. Academics and teachers from all over the world bring their experience to the company.

More internet coverage in Ghana means tech companies such as Hubtel and Rancard have become Pan-African brands and according to Nana Prempeh, co-founder and CEO of Asoriba, Ghana has great strengths when it comes to the tech ecosystem. MEST has been a strong backbone of the community. Other global companies partnering with Ghana’s many startups and tech hubs include Google, Amazon Web Services and Microsoft, all connected through MEST.

Ghana Technology Development Issues

Ghana’s comparatively stable electricity, security and internet infrastructure exists despite the series of damaging military coups the country went through before 1981. Even though fewer than 1 percent of African retail sales happen online, e-commerce will sky-rocket in Africa, according to the technology review Ghana’s Last Mile by Jonathan Rosen. He hopes issues with unpaved roads and confusing street-labeling will soon be solved through the same spirit of innovation that is already sweeping the nation.

Broader internet coverage in Ghana brightens its future in tech and the online market. There are obstacles of infrastructure to overcome and yet great hope for keeping up with world-wide tech hubs remains. Perhaps the country’s name, roughly derived from the words meaning Warrior King, gives a glimpse of the spirit of the country.

Investment from giants like Google and Amazon Web Services spearhead the beginning of partnerships with corporations all over the globe, as other companies begin to take notice of Ghana’s local hubs and competitive training. Most encouraging is seeing the hands-on training of MEST addressing communities and providing a stream of trained tech-students into the job market.

– Hannah Peterson

Photo: Flickr

Child Trafficking in Ghana
Ghana, as a country, represents an epicenter for a vicious cycle where many men, women and children are victims of trafficking. This topic is a huge challenge for the country. Countless of Ghana’s children are taken from their homes and brought to work in poor conditions, mostly in the fishing industry. These young children are then forced to work long hours and live in squalor.

It is more common for boys to be forced into hard labor that includes things as diving into the water to untangle the fishing nets, while girls are sent to the Middle East where they become domestic workers in households or prostitutes being obligated to sell their bodies. According to the Head of the Counter-Trafficking Department of the International Organization for Migration child trafficking in Ghana is actually a distortion of the old cultural practice of placement with relatives or townspeople.

Statistics of Child Trafficking

Three thousand children are victims of child trafficking each day worldwide. It is estimated that child trafficking is an industry that earns $10 million yearly, but what are the factors that can cause a child to be trafficked? One prominent factor is lack of education and this certainly is one of the causes of child trafficking in Ghana as 623,500 children in Ghana are not even enrolled in school.

Extreme poverty also plays an issue in child trafficking as families sometimes leave their children behind or give their children to the traffickers. There is a large number of street kids who are easy prey to the traffickers who offer them the allure of a better life. Over 40 million babies are born every year and fail to be identified. Invisible children or the absence of birth registration happens when a child is born and is never registered with the local government or council. These children are perfect victims for child traffickers.

Challenging Heights’ Work

One organization that is currently working as an advocate for the right to a safe and protected home for every child in Ghana is Challenging Heights. James Kofi Annan founded the organization in 2003 and advocates for children rights. Annan was a fishing slave himself and was forced to work for seven years before he escaped, got an education and became a bank manager.

Challenging Heights is an organization committed to ending child trafficking in Ghana, reducing child slavery and promoting children’s rights in the country. They are currently focused on child labor, especially in the fishing and cocoa industry. As many as 24,000 children are victims of worst forms of child labor annually in Ghana. Challenging Heights’ works on improving child rights through three types of agendas: rescuing, preventing and advocating.

Challenging Heights also works to economically empower the women of Ghana. One plan that this organization has implemented is opening a smokehouse where the women can preserve the fish caught by the fisherman. The women can use the smokehouses free of charge and then they are able to sell their fish within the community, helping them make an income for their families. Challenging Heights also offers youth empowerment Programs. These programs teach children a certain career skill and offer training programs to hopefully set the youth up on the right track towards obtaining an education or a job.

Lake Volta Actions

Many of Challenging Heights rescue missions take place at Lake Volta. The Lake was built in the 1960s and is one of the world’s largest man-made lakes. Lake Volta is a way of life for most fisherman and people in the country where about 40 percent of the population lives below the poverty line. Children are most often exploited by fishermen desperate to feed their families and eke out a living along the banks of Lake Volta. With help from locals in the community, Challenging Heights makes several recuses a year. The liberated children are taken back to Challenging Heights rehabilitation house and offered care. This care can vary from medical, psychological or emotional. Each child stays with the organization for almost a year while their families are interviewed and assessed in hopes that this will deter them from falling back into child trafficking.

Thanks to Challenging Heights, more than 1,500 children have been rescued and 400 children have been given proper care in the organization’s rehabilitation center. The overall goal for this organization is to end child trafficking in Ghana by 2022. Currently, 103,300 people in Ghana are trapped in modern-day slavery. Challenging Heights hopes to combat this number by advocating for the victims, partnering with the government and nongovernmental organizations all while having the goal of ending child trafficking in Ghana in mind.

– Jennifer O’Brien

Photo: Pixabay

sustainable agriculture in ghana
Ghana is a small country located in West Africa along the Guinea Bay. The country is rich in natural resources, especially oil and gold, but nearly 45 percent of the country’s population is employed in the agricultural sector and agriculture makes up 18 percent of Ghana’s gross domestic product (GDP).

Coca, rice, cassava, peanuts, and bananas are some of the top agricultural products grown in Ghana. Coca is one of the country’s popular exports, alongside oil, gold and timber. Despite being resource-rich, Ghana’s economy has been contracting. Its current growth is around negative 6 percent. Countries and organizations around the world, alongside Ghana’s government and people, have recognized this problem and are currently promoting sustainable agriculture in Ghana so that they can carve a brighter future for this recovering African nation.

Feed the Future Program

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has chosen Ghana, specifically Northern Ghana, as one of its focus nations for its Feed the Future Program. USAID reports that the majority of farmers in this part of the country own small farms that are often less than five acres. Much of this land is covered in pour soil. Due to climate change and the inherent climate of the region, rain is unpredictable.

These challenges mean that malnutrition is high amongst the population. USAID’s Feed the Future Program aims to increase the productivity of these farms that mainly produce corn, rice and soybeans and promote sustainable agriculture in Ghana. Since 2012, Feed the Future has helped supply 156 thousand producers with better farming equipment and educate them on sustainable farming techniques. These techniques have led to the alleviation of some of the malnutrition and poverty issues. They also earned the farmers a total of $40 million and $16 million in private investment.

Governments Role in Sustainable Agriculture in Ghana

This private investment is important to the government’s idea for the future of sustainable agriculture in Ghana. The Ghanaian Times reports that the government of Ghana recognizes the United Nation’s latest report about the future of food security. The government wants to do its part on the world stage and at home by promoting sustainable agriculture in Ghana.

Ghana’s Shared Growth and Development Agenda mention a few ways in which the country plans to do this. The government works with organizations such as the USAID and many programs based in Africa, such as the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program. Sustainable agriculture in Ghana is seen as a way to strengthen food security, alleviate poverty in the country and promote private sector growth.

Trax Ghana

Trax Ghana is a small nongovernmental organization that promotes sustainable agriculture in Ghana for all of the reasons mentioned above. Like the USAID Feed the Future Program, Trax Ghana operates mainly in Northern Ghana. It promotes the nitty-gritty of sustainable agriculture. It teaches farmers about the importance of soil management and how to construct proper animal pens. The organization also promote gender equality, teach business skills and farming skills to both women and men for over 25 years, since the organization was founded.

Attacking the issue of poverty from multiple fronts and with multiple allies, the future of sustainable agriculture in Ghana looks bright. Ghana’s government is in collaboration with USAID to set up the Ghana Comprehensive Agriculture Project to increase private sector investment into the agriculture sector. It will take time and there will probably be some setbacks, but with so many people dedicated the practicing and promoting the practice of sustainable agriculture, the country has a good chance of succeeding.

– Nicholas DeMarco

Photo: Flickr

Top ten facts about Girls’ education in Ghana
Education in Ghana has seen a rise in terms of enrollment. However, there are still issues that must be addressed in regards to girls’ education in Ghana, that the country’s government, the U.S. and the rest of the world aim to resolve and rectify.

In the article below, top 10 facts about girls’ education in Ghana are presented.

Top 10 Facts About Girls’ Education in Ghana

  1. On average, girls in Ghana stay in school for only four years, dropping out as a result of early marriage, pregnancy, poverty, sexual harassment and various other barriers. Adolescent pregnancy statistics from 2017 show that 14 percent of girls in Ghana aged from 15 from 19 have at least one child. Almost 52 percent of girls have endured gender-based violence whilst at school, that has deterred them from attending the school. In 2017, the gross ratio of female enrollment in tertiary education was 13.53 percent in comparison to 18.68 percent for boys. This shows that there are still significant improvements that need to be made in order to increase enrollment rates for girls in Ghana.
  2. There are many reasons why girls in Ghana miss out on their education, and one of these reasons is something they cannot prevent and have no control over, which is their menstrual cycle. Currently, sanitary pads are seen as a luxury as they are taxed by import charge of 20 percent. As a result, many girls often skip school during their menstrual cycle, as they do not have the materials to leave their house without feeling a sense of humility or shame. There are currently various petitions regarding the extortionate tax on sanitary pads since they affect the everyday lives of young women attempting to further their career through education.
  3. Many Ghanaian girls have experienced sexual violence during their time at school. According to ActionAid, 26 percent of girls in the country’s schools have reported sexual violence during their education. In July 2018, 10 female students reported sexual violence against eight teachers at a high school in Ghana, with only four being indicted for their crimes.
  4. In order to combat gender-driven violence in schools, Oxfam and the Ghana Education Service partnered up in 2008 to implement girls-only schools that were funded by local authorities. The first girls-only school was a junior high school in the northern province of Sawla, where 28 girls were enrolled from some of the poorest families in the region. The girls-only schools have expanded since, and more than a decade later, in March 2018, there were 44 schools in northern Ghana. The girls model schools have improved both safety in schools, as well as career prospects for more than 1,642 Ghanaian girls, out of which 95 percent graduated, with the majority continuing on to higher education.
  5. New styles of teaching are being implemented in girls-only schools in Ghana, which were previously inaccessible due to the lack of funding needed for teacher training. The changes include implementing computing, as well as more student-centered methods, which enable girls to reflect on their learning experiences during study groups. Since the groups are smaller, there is a better focus on the individual students, which improves their education as a whole.
  6. According to 2016 statistics from The Gender Parity Index (GPI), a significant increase in disparity between boys’ and girls’ education has been recorded. It now stands at a GPI of 0.997. This means Ghana has managed to somewhat eliminate gender disparity since 1971 when this index was 0.764. Disparity should continue to decrease, as more efforts are being made to make education inclusive for everyone.
  7. Since 1995, primary and junior high schools have been freely available to all children in Ghana, and in September 2017, Ghana’s President Nano Akufo-Addo announced the launch of cost-free secondary education as an investment that aims to improve workforce prospects in Ghana. The estimated expenditure for the first year of this initiative was $100 million, which the government will be using to pay for textbooks, meals, tuition, uniforms and various other school expenses.
  8. In April 2018, A2Z Firm Movement, a nongovernmental organization launched their Protect Girls’ Rights Campaign that is expected to run from 2018 to 2025. The aim of the campaign is to educate teenage mothers by encouraging them to take part in entrepreneurship activities under the girls’ rights support club. This not only provides them with an education but also the ability to an escape from the poverty they are currently facing.
  9. In October 2018, former first lady of the United States., Michelle Obama, launched Global Girls Alliance, a girl’s education program that aims to improve the education of adolescent girls. The program does this by offering the necessary resources and encouraging young people all over the world to work alongside girl-focused organizations, who can help create a brighter future for girls through focusing on better education.
  10. In 1998, the food aid incentive collaboration launched by The World Food Programme (WFP) and the Ghana Education Service. This initiative has been providing the necessary food for girls in education. Currently, the program has 17,000 girls enrolled in schools around Ghana, as a result of the food incentives that were introduced to address gender parity gaps.

These top 10 facts about girls’ education in Ghana have established both the positives and negatives regarding the school system in Ghana.

Although the improvements have been made to improve the girls’ education in the country, there is still room for improvement. There are many initiatives and projects in place that help girls in Ghana get the best education they deserve.

– Heather Barrigan
Photo: Flickr

Top 10 Facts About Living Conditions in Ghana
Situated in West Africa, Ghana is a developing African nation steeped in various cultures and tradition that date far back in history. Ghana faces many of the problems common amongst developing countries including lack of natural resources and a majority of the population that is living in poverty. In the article below, top 10 facts about living conditions in Ghana are presented.

Top 10 Facts About Living Conditions in Ghana

  1. People in Ghana rely on farming for survival. The country has a population of 25.37 million, and these people are distributed throughout the country’s 10 regions. Out of this number, 68 percent of people live in rural areas whilst the rest occupies the more urban areas. Agriculture accounts for 54 percent of the country’s GDP and for more than 40 percent of income brought in by exports. The country also relies on their agriculture as a major food source which caters for more than 90 percent of the people’s needs.
  2. The dry season in Ghana lasts for four months of the year and in that time, rain ceases to fall and plant growth is therefore limited. Farmers mostly choose not to farm at this time and would rather rely on food they would have stored from the previous harvest.
  3. People in Ghana are steeped in their culture and most of them would rather live in the village than in the towns. The main reasons for moving to towns is to find work and people usually stay strongly linked to their villages of origin. However, life in rural Ghana is quite primitive and there is a scarcity of running water and electricity. People still have to go and fetch water in clay pots from the nearest water source.
  4. In most of rural Ghana, the young girls have to wake up early in the morning before school to go to the nearest river to collect water. The nearest river can sometimes be 30 minutes away and the water collection process has to be done at least four times a day.
  5. Keshia, a Peace Corps volunteer, found a program funded by the U.S. foundation for African Development through a Ghanaian organization called New Energy. It was initiated in a neighboring community and involved a solar-powered filtration unit which provided clean, filtered water. Keshia spoke to New Energy and convinced them to extend the range of the filtered water to the village she was helping. The result is that water now runs in two kilometers long pipes and is reserved in two 10,000 liter tanks.
  6. In a northern region village, the farmers are faced with the challenge of fetching water, making three trips to water one bed in their 20-bed garden plots. The farmers dug wells as a source of water in dry months. Consequently, the task takes two entire days to complete and the men have to sleep overnight at their gardens in order to get the work done.
  7. In another Ghanaian village, there is no cell service and no electricity and the people have to get creative with their means of making a living. With the help of a volunteer, Joe, the villagers tried bee-keeping, palm oil distribution and a moringa project which was the most successful. The moringa leaf can be turned into a powder that fits a growing niche in the U.S. natural and green food market.
  8. Urban Ghana appears to be a much more conducive living environment. There is clean water for 93 percent of the population living in the towns compared to rural areas where only 35 percent of the people have access to clean drinking water. This fact comes as no surprise especially as most villages still rely on the water in nearby rivers. Although different organizations are working in various communities to help the issue, they cannot impact everyone at once and as a result, there are many villages still living without clean water.
  9. Infants and children born in towns are more likely to survive and live a full life than those who live in the villages. There are better medical facilities in the towns that are easily accessible. In comparison, two villages usually share one clinic. Because of the distance and expenses, villagers hardly ever go to the hospital and would rather rely on medical salesmen who sell antibiotics and painkillers on a bicycle to provide medication when they or loved ones are ill.
  10. In the villages, there is far less opportunity for an education and the curriculum is limited with available resources. In urban villages and towns, there are several teachers, concrete school buildings with roofs, desks and chairs. In the rural areas, one or two teachers have to teach in tumble-down huts and leaking thatched roofs. Children have to walk large distances to get to classes that only last a couple of hours and they usually finish only primary education. Only about two-thirds of people in Ghana are literate.

While life in Ghana may seem tough, the continuous work is being done to improve the situation. The organizations such as Peace Corps and U.S. Aid are active in the country and are trying to better the communities. While the people of Ghana enjoy their rural lifestyle, these top 10 facts about Ghana presented above show that this has to change in order for education and poverty reduction to improve.

– Aquillina Ngowera
Photo: Pixabay

Remembering Kofi Annan: A Leader in the Fight Against Global Poverty
In his ten years as the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan was a beacon for diplomacy, peace and unity in the international community. Annan held this already highly scrutinized position in a time when global terrorism and political instability were occurring in almost every corner of the world.

As head of a United Nations’ peacekeeping operation that failed to prevent genocides in Bosnia and Rwanda, Annan erroneously received personal blame and scrutiny throughout tumultuous times in his career. Yet, the manner in which he carried himself and pushed forward to fix his shortcomings, mold the institutional legitimacy of the U.N.

His work on curtailing the global poverty and human rights abuses earned him unprecedented praise from world leaders and representatives of poor and rich nations, as well as a Nobel Peace Prize in 2001.

Remembering Kofi Annan’s fight against global poverty is very important since it serves as a model of the amount of commitment, patience and humanity that are needed to make a difference.

Early Years: The Birth of an Advocate

Annan was born in what is now Kumasi, Ghana, in 1938. Being that he was the grandson and nephew of Asante chiefs, rulers of his home nation of Ghana at the time, Annan’s exposure to the world of politics came at an early age. His formal education also coincided with the Ghanaian independence movement that saw the nation become the first nation in Africa to gain independence from Britain.

The independence movement left many people in Ghana feeling that anything is possible. His vision of what the world could be, but most importantly, his pursuit of that vision demonstrates that he bought into this idea as well.

Millennium Development Goals

During his tenure at the United Nations, Annan was responsible for instituting some of the most pivotal developmental reforms priming the organization for the role it now holds in international affairs. Annan changed the United Nations from an institution that was once passive into the one that now promotes the norm of humanitarian intervention and advocacy. His advocacy and reforms often manifested themselves to protect those facing extreme poverty.

One of the most notable projects in Annan’s fight against global poverty was the Millennium Development Goals, at the forefront of which was the goal of halving extreme poverty, defined as people living on income less than $1.25, by the year 2015.

“For many countries, it will be necessary to take concrete steps to ensure that faster and more pro-poor economic growth is achieved between now and 2015 if they are to have a real chance of meeting the 2015 target,” Annan said back in 2001.

But he did not simply urge member countries to solve the problem. Rather, he presented a framework that would allow states to embed poverty reduction strategies into their plans for national development and policy. He also used his political prowess to bargain and incentivize richer nations to increase spending on development aid to 0.7 percent of their national incomes, a portion that can be described as low even today.

Annan’s United Nations also pushed for innovative ways to reduce poverty, including increasing access to renewable energy. Ultimately, the Millennium Development Goals would be dubbed as the most successful anti-poverty movement in history, just barely missing out on a goal of reducing extreme poverty levels by half.

Remembering Kofi Annan’s Impact on the Fight Against Poverty

Annan was a champion of world development and poverty reduction, particularly in his native continent of Africa. He was a chairman of the Africa Progress Panel after his second and final term as United Nations Secretary-General. The Panel, now subsumed by the Africa Progress Group, advocates for the equitable and sustainable development of African nations through international collaboration and engagement in global politics.

Annan helped to establish the annual Africa Progress Report that, among many things, analyzed and reported on the progress that African nations were making toward the Sustainable Development Goals.

He also founded the Kofi Annan Foundation that served as a catalyst for lasting peace and inclusive governance by anticipating looming threats security, development and human rights.

Kofi Annan’s commitment to the world’s poor never faltered throughout the duration of his career. As Secretary-General of the United Nations Annan faced many difficult and discouraging moments. But the spirit that emboldened Annan’s vision of a more effective United Nations and a more equitable world allowed him to carry on.

Annan’s fight against global poverty was immense. He showed the world what it means to be a dedicated advocate. But most importantly, he showed us that no vision is too big to be attained. Remembering Kofi Annan and his efforts in eradicating the world’s poverty are very important to cherish. Annan’s legacy lives on through his family, The Kofi Annan Foundation, the Africa Progress Group and the United Nations.

But it also lives on through the people that continue to dedicate themselves and their lives to the fight against global poverty.

– Isha Kakar
Photo: Flickr