renewable energy in Ghana
As technological advances increase and non-renewable sources depreciate, more countries have started investing in less conventional forms of renewable energy — including the extraction of wave energy. This is the case for an Israeli-based company, Yam Pro Energy (YPE), that works to increase the amount of renewable energy in Ghana.

There is a large range of wave energy technologies that each rely on different mechanisms to harness energy; three of the methods are as follows:

  1. Oscillating Water Column
  2. Oscillating Bodies
  3. Overtopping

Oscillating Water Columns use a horizontal front-to-back motion that extracts energy using a roll rotation, while the Oscillating Bodies use a side-to-side motion to extract wave energy using a pitch rotation. The last technology is overtopping, the mechanism used by YPE, that uses a vertical up-and-down motion to harness the energy.

 

Advantages

The main advantages of these systems are its simplicity, reliability and power, which make each option a promising investment. While Europe is still the main lead market for wave technology, other countries have followed the trend; for instance, Ghana works with Yam Pro Energy to bring hydropower plants to its shorelines.

Yam Pro Energy is a long-time supporter of wave energy and works to provide millions of people with clean, efficient energy and eliminate global dependency on fossil fuels. YPE accomplishes such actions with the erection of their wave-energy-harnessing plants, also known as Sea Wave power plants.

YPE recently created a prototype that harnesses the energy from crashing waves and uses it to produce renewable energy that does not harm the ecosystem; the plant is set to be built on the coastline of Ghana’s capital city, Accra.

 

Efficiency

This prototype is more efficient than other devices, such as buoys that can easily be destroyed and can sink in rough seas, and are easily accessible. This means that maintenance issues can easily be addressed without sending out scuba divers or boats. These machines do not emit pollution or harm wildlife, and can easily withstand the harsh environment of the sea, making them a valuable investment.

Zeev Peretz, Yam Pro Energy’s CEO, says that wave technology, specifically when using YPE’s Sea Wave plants, is more efficient as it creates up to 65 percent of energy per year compared to other sources that create between 22 and 24 percent.

According to The Solutions Project and Standford University, the top sources of renewable energy in Ghana are as follows:

  1. Commercial and government rooftop solar, which accounts for 23.7 percent
  2. Residential rooftop solar, which accounts for 19.9 percent
  3. Onshore wind turbines, which account for 17.8 percent
  4. Offshore wind turbines, which account for 14.8 percent
  5. Concentrating solar power plants, which account for 11 percent
  6. Hydropower energy, which accounts for 8.4 percent

Of note, Mark Jacobson from The Solutions Project explained that wave technology is the least utilized source of renewable energy in Ghana. By 2050, it is projected that hydropower will contribute to almost 15 percent of Ghana’s renewable energy, as water energy is meant to complement other renewable energy sources rather than be a source of its own.

With its optimistic future of endless possibilities and success, it is only a matter of time before hydropower acts as a major pillar of renewable energy for Ghana.

– Chylene Babb

Photo: Flickr

mental healthcare in ghanaGhana’s healthcare system deals with many obstacles relating to disease and discrimination. The West African country faces many diseases common in Africa, such as malaria and HIV/AIDS, which plagues some of its 27 million population. It is the poor access to mental healthcare in Ghana, though, that has set it apart from its sub-Saharan neighbors.

A 2012 study showed that the Ghanaian government spent $0.12 per capita for mental health treatment. This is less than half of the average expenditure of other lower-middle income countries. It is roughly two percent of spending toward mental healthcare by upper-middle-income countries.

Challenges to Mental Healthcare in Ghana

Unfortunately, a lack of spending is not the only hindrance to receiving adequate mental healthcare in Ghana. A number of other challenges have prevented Ghanaians from receiving help, including a lack of qualified professionals. A scant 18 psychiatrists practiced in Ghana in 2011.

The number of mental healthcare outpatient clinics is far greater. However, the majority of these clinics are located in Accra, Ghana’s capital. Rural areas of the country have far fewer resources, such as the Ashanti region. There are only 12 outpatient services available to its population of 4.8 million.

Introducing the Mental Health Act

The international recognition regarding poor mental healthcare in Ghana forced the country to look more closely at its practices. To this end, Ghana introduced the 2012 Mental Health Act.

The goals of the scheduled 5-year plan were to create a baseline to ensure quality reform and to compare it to the performance of other countries. The poor access to treatment in rural areas of Ghana was also addressed. Programs were initiated to bring awareness of mental health programs and resources all over the country.

With the support of the World Health Organization, the Mental Health Act implemented previously ignored practices. Furthermore, it ensured the rights of people with mental disabilities. Mental health in Ghana has always been highly stigmatized, and the Act sought to create anti-discrimination provisions and safeguards for the vulnerable.

In the years since the approval of the Mental Health Act, Ghana has taken a number of steps to increase access to mental healthcare. This has included steps to decentralize programs and integrate them into the general healthcare system. Ghana is also beginning to downsize its three largest psychiatric hospitals in order to spread access to mental healthcare throughout the nation.

Ghana’s mental healthcare system has seen incredible progress. The country recognized the need to transform the highly underfunded and stigmatized system. Now, the system offers patients better access to treatment that is free of discrimination and negative consequences. Challenges remain, but the steps taken to reshape its future have already made a difference to mental healthcare in Ghana.

– Eric Paulsen

Photo: Flickr

Infrastructure in GhanaTechnological advancement, especially regarding mobile phone development and access, has revolutionized the way Ghanaian people are learning, both in and out of African school systems. As mobile phone access becomes more readily available throughout Ghana, app developers are revolutionizing distance education and mobile e-learning programs. According to a report published by the GSM Association, the countries of Sub-Saharan Arica experienced a 58 percent increase in the number of mobile health services available to the public that make access to health information and training programs far more accessible

With e-learning programs on the rise, Ghanaian adults now have access to college-level courses, skill development training sessions, and even medical school examination prep courses. Increased dissemination of m-learning – mobile phone learning – programs and software may serve to promote literacy and education in areas of Africa where academic infrastructure is lacking. Additionally, African colleges can utilize these learning programs to augment pre-existing programs so as to better prepare Ghanaian college graduates for employment or further education.

Stakeholders and app developers have made great strides in establishing a public health approach that utilizes online education to counter the public’s access to certain aspects of healthcare.

One particular e-learning platform, skoool HE, seeks to promote greater access to midwifery education in an effort to reduce the maternal mortality ratio, which lies at approximately 350 deaths per 100,000 women. The application, funded and developed by Ghana’s Ministry of Health, delivers an interactive learning platform wherein students are taught emergency preparedness and neonatal delivery procedures on a case-by-case basis. As a large proportion of practicing midwives approach the mandatory retiring age of 60, the Ghanaian government is utilizing educational technology to establish a new workforce to fill the impending gap.

Stakeholders involved in the sustainability of skoool HE are facilitating the development of additional learning modules and are coordinating with local communities that use the technology in an effort to augment the educational infrastructure in Ghana.

Another application supplementing healthcare education in Africa, MedAfrica, essentially mirrors the fundamental components of Web MD. This application is available to the general public free of cost and provides information regarding diagnoses, symptoms, and treatment options for multiple diseases and infections.

As Ghanaian e-learning programs continue to increase public access to college courses, healthcare information, and skill development training to adults and children, scientists are now interested in improving educational infrastructure in Ghana that promote faculty curriculum training and development.

Matthew Boyer

Photo: Flickr

Humanitarian Aid to GhanaThe need for proper nutrition and health professionals has driven the success of humanitarian aid to Ghana. Within ten years, Ghana witnessed a decrease in their poverty rate from 52 percent to 28 percent in 2016.

Nutrition

As of 2016, 1.2 million Ghanaians still experienced food insecurity and chronic undernutrition. Furthermore, there is a high prevalence of stunting, recording 37 percent of children in the Northern Province alone. There are also many reported cases of wasting, particularly in the Upper West area of Ghana.

To combat these issues, Ghana joined the national Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Movement in 2011 to improve nutrition among its population. With USAID’s support and donations, Ghanaians focused on improving the country’s nutritional funding and the way in which rations are measured and prioritized.

Furthermore, USAID’s Feed the Future targets the northern, impoverished regions of the country. It hopes to make the food value chains affordable, strengthen vulnerable communities and improve the nutritional state of women and children.

In 2014, USAID applied three Feed the Future chain projects to lead the success of humanitarian aid to Ghana:

  1. The Systems for Health project reduces the levels of stunting, wasting and anemia in women and children in five of Ghana’s more vulnerable sectors.
  2. The Resiliency in Northern Ghana (RING) project targets poverty and malnutrition in vulnerable households.
  3. The Strengthening Partnerships, Results and Innovations in Nutrition Globally (SPRING) project is concerned with alleviating stunting and anemia in children under five.

Data between 2008 and 2011 indicates progress among all Ghanaian children under the age of five. The total prevalence of stunting decreased from 28 percent to 23 percent, while wasting dropped a total of 3 percent. The occurrence of anemia among children dropped more significantly from 78 percent to 57 percent. With USAID’s new programs, these numbers are predicted to decline even more drastically.

Health Professionals

UNICEF fights to break the Ghanaian norm for mothers to give birth at home, without a health professional. According to a study done in 2012, only 57 percent of births were attended by a midwife or health clinic professional.

A Ghanaian birth attendant named Kasua Musah works alongside UNICEF and the Ghana Health Service to break tradition and advocate for in-clinic deliveries.

Together, they utilize the community radio, along with street theatre and home visits to promote safe birth. The combination of these methods reached out to around 360 communities, including four of the more destitute regions.

As a result, they altered tradition within the Central Region and increased the number of patients in the maternity ward sector of the region’s largest hospital. Even further, the radio empowered those who had negative experiences with the clinic staff, enforcing improvement and new training methods.

Further training was provided for midwives, ensuring the betterment of at-home births. Overall, Ghana improved the patient-to-nurse relationship.

Lowering the child and female mortality rates through improved birthing processes, but also through augmenting nutritional programs, is what propelled the success of humanitarian aid to Ghana.

– Brianna White

Photo: Flickr

Women's Empowerment in GhanaUnfortunately, in many countries around the world, women are not treated as an equal to men. Ghana is not an exception, as women are more likely to live in poverty, have less land, are excluded from decision-making, and make minimal income. These existing hardships make it hard for women’s Empowerment in Ghana.

Violence against women is a major issue that women face in Ghana. Women and young girls often face widespread violence, sexual harassment, and abuse in the areas that they populate, which includes their homes, workplaces, the streets, and on public transportation. In many circumstances, women have to constantly live in fear of being attacked and this can lessen their likelihood of living a full life.

The lack of control that women in Ghana have over their own bodies is also extremely harmful. Women and girls are forced to endure dangerous practices that bring great suffering to them. One of these practices is Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). At the young ages of 10 through 12, young girls are forced to go through this mutilation. In addition, they may be forced into marriage, sex-selective abortion, dowry-related crimes, honor crimes, and other harmful practices.

An organization, act!onaid, is a global movement that is working in Ghana to help improve rights and reduce poverty. Some of the issues they are working on are bringing awareness to violence against women and girls, bringing women to the forefront of decision making and leadership opportunities, and harnessing women’s economic empowerment and economic justice. They are working to include women’s rights as a priority in developmental policies and advocating for spaces where women’s voices, especially those from poorer backgrounds will be heard.

Dealing with women’s education in Ghana, there are major inequalities when it comes to women’s access. The country is nearing gender parity in primary education, but the gender gap in post-primary education level remains a challenge, although there was a marginal improvement in percentage of girls in senior high school and technical vocational education and training.

To bring about women’s Empowerment in Ghana, act!onaid has adopted strategies and interventions to promote gender equality and women empowerment. They have established the Ministry of Women and Children’s Affairs through Executive Instrument. They will be initiating and coordinating formulation policies to monitor and evaluate the execution of policies in place to ensure the promotion of gender equality and empowerment.

Additionally, the organization plans to implement gender-responsive budgeting. They plan to use a strategy using the government’s fiscal policy to achieve gender equality and to implement the gender-responsive budgeting in three sectors of the economy; education, health, and agriculture. In addition, they plan to mainstream justice as a policy area for gender equity. The legal reforms will include Constitutional provisions for gender equity under the law to criminalize harmful tradition practices against young women and girls.

The country of Ghana has the help of organizations and a government making changes to alter the hardships the women are facing. If these ideas are put into place, women’s Empowerment in Ghana can exist and these women can live full lives.

– Chavez Spicer

Photo: Flickr

Five Things to Know About Healthcare in GhanaGhana, a country in West Africa, gained its independence in 1957 and now has a population of 28.2 million people. Though it has been considered one of the most stable countries in the region since 1992, Ghana still faces issues, one of which is the health of its population.

For men and women in Ghana, the life expectancy at birth is 64 and 66 years, respectively. These life expectancies are both below the global average, which, in 2015, was reported to be 71.4 years when considering both men and women.

Ghana faces a multitude of health issues that affect its population’s life expectancy. Below are five things to know about healthcare in Ghana.

  1. Accra, the country’s capital, is one of the centers of Ghana’s medical system. This city, which is one of the largest cities in Ghana, has a population of about 2 million people. Accra is where the Ghana Health Service is located, thus making it an important city for health in Ghana.
  2. HIV/AIDS is one of the top ten causes of death in Ghana. This virus killed 10,300 people in Ghana in 2012, which was 4.9 percent of the country’s population. At this rate, HIV/AIDS was ranked as the fifth leading cause of death in Ghana, in 2012, by the World Health Organization (WHO).
  3. In 2012, Malaria killed 8.3 percent of Ghana’s population. At this rate, Malaria ranked higher than HIV/AIDS, at number three, in the leading causes of death in Ghana, as reported by the WHO in 2012. When considering children under five, Malaria was the leading cause of death, killing 20 percent of this group in 2012.
  4. As of 2016, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has trained 125 people in Ghana to better monitor and evaluate the spread of infectious diseases. The CDC is working with Ghana to help citizens better recognize, treat and prevent infectious diseases.
  5. The education system for medicine and health in Ghana has improved over the last few decades. Many institutions that focus on educating Ghanaians in medicine have been founded since 1976. The Ghana College of Physicians and Surgeons (GCPS), which was founded in 2003, trained approximately 300 residents in 2014.

Though HIV/AIDS and malaria continue to be two of the leading causes of death in Ghana, the country’s work with the CDC and its improved education in medicine have certainly made progress towards improving healthcare in Ghana.

– Haley Rogers

Photo: Flickr

Free High School in GhanaIn February 2017, the president of Ghana, Nana Akufo-Addo, stated that the government will begin to fund the cost of public Senior High Schools (SHS) for everyone who qualifies beginning in September. According to The Herald, President Akufo-Addo stated, “By free SHS, we mean that, in addition to tuition which is already free, there will be no admission fees, no library fees, no science centre fees, no computer laboratory fees, no examination fees, no utility fees; there will be free textbooks, free boarding and free meals and day students will get a meal at school for free.”

President Akufo-Addo has followed through on this promise. The equivalent of over $90 million has been set aside by the government with the goal of aiding 424,092 students for the 2017-2018 school year. While the program for free high school in Ghana is for incoming freshman only, it is already a great improvement, as in 2014, only 37 percent of students were enrolled in secondary education.

President Akufo-Addo has been quoted recognizing the importance of education both in general and in terms of developing countries. VOA News reports Akufo-Addo saying that the, “economy for over a century has been depending largely on the production and export of raw materials. This cannot and will not create prosperity for the masses of Ghanaians.”

Though there have been concerns expressed about if free SHS is a sustainable program, if the system will be overburdened or if it will harm the private schooling sector, the worries are thus far unfounded. The beneficiaries of this maiden program will be under the policies of the program until their third year, which gives time for the policies to be further developed and corrected.

The private schooling sector was not affected when free primary school was initiated over a decade ago. In fact, they remain among top performing schools in the nation. Therefore, the same result is more than likely to be expected with the beginning of free high school in Ghana.

As for if the school system will be overburdened with congestion of students and a subsequent drop in the quality of education, the prime minister of education is not concerned. VOA News quotes Minister Matthew Opoku Prempeh claiming, “the government based its calculations on data from headmasters and on the total number of students who passed the entrance exam…We should be able to place everybody.”

With a new and still improving focus on education, the future of Ghana from both an economic standpoint and a more holistic level has room for growth more than ever before.

Gabriella Paez

Photo: Flickr

Sanitation Leads to Education for Girls in Ghana
Every year, millions of girls all around the world experience their first period. To many, it is a moment of pride as they enter womanhood. For many others, the experience is significantly disruptive. This is especially true for school girls in Ghana, where the start of their period is simultaneously the start of missing 30 to 50 school days each calendar year. Inevitably, these young girls are falling behind in their education quickly. Education for girls in Ghana loses much to this.

One of the greatest obstacles for young girls in Ghana is acquiring sanitary supplies. For those who cannot afford the supplies, choices are limited. Many are left to fend for themselves by using scraps of clothing, fabric or even mud. Due to the risk of being exploited by their needs, many girls choose to stay home and simply avoid the embarrassment. According to a study in 2012 by WaterAid, upwards of 95 percent of the girls surveyed choose against attending during their period each month.

Fortunately, some non-profit organizations have begun tackling this issue of lacking proper sanitary supplies for the young girls in Ghana. The Educational Empowerment Initiative (EEI) has since been distributing free disposable sanitary supplies to school-aged girls within the school systems. As a result, schools have reported a drastic reduction in the number of period-related absences. All it took was distributing feminine hygiene supplies to show the fact that sanitation leads to improved education for girls in Ghana.

Moreover, the program has also sought to provide basic healthcare and reproductive educational classes to the girls as well as train teachers to talk to their students when they may have questions about their seemingly new bodies. Education concerning periods is just as crucial as general studies for girls in places like Ghana. A UNICEF study in 2013 revealed that nearly 48 percent of young girls were completely unaware of menstruation until they had their first experience.

UNICEF and Ghana Education Services (GES) are also pushing for research and improvements through Ghana. These two organizations have partnered together in order to conduct project research on the myths that haunt Ghana’s people regarding menstruation. For example, many believe menstrual blood to be a bad omen and that women are impure during their menstrual cycles. UNICEF and GES are seeking to use their finding to improve ongoing Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) programs in schools. Specifically, UNICEF is focusing on advocating for better Menstrual Hygiene Management throughout the country, hoping it will improve girls’ attendance and retention.

Another real concern for all students in Ghana—not just the girls—is the overall lack of access to sanitation facilities. For some schools, like the Adusa Municipal Assembly Primary School, a couple of pit latrines and one makeshift, semi-open structure is all the students have to use to relieve themselves. Due to the extremely poor conditions of the facilities, many of the students report that they “hold it,” but admit to being unable to concentrate during class. The Ghana WASH project has specifically mentioned that institutional latrine improvements will address some of the girls’ absences, too. A simple extension of privacy and a brief excuse from class allows young girls to take care of themselves without missing a whole day of school.

The entrepreneurial young woman behind EEI, then-15-year old Winnifred Selby is a part of a global movement recognizing how important it is to aid young girls and women in fulfilling their basic needs. By helping the girls and women remain in and prioritize school, the chances they eventually enter and contribute to the workforce grow. Education is a powerful tool that enables people around the world to develop and participate in their local, national and international workforces and communities. Investing in educating women is an investment in improving society. Therefore, what is happening in Ghana is not isolated to Ghana. Improving sanitation is a greater concern for the world at large. As shown by some of the actions of EEI, UNICEF and the WASH projects, improved sanitation often leads to improved education.

Taylor Elkins

Photo: Flickr

Free EducationPresident of Ghana Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has shown full support for the Government’s Free Senior High School (SHS) program, which launched on September 12, 2017. The initial implementation of this policy was held at West Africa Senior High School (WASS) to officially integrate free senior high school education.

The Ghanaian government’s decision to implement this program was based on the desire to educate at a faster rate to encourage national development and progress.

“By free SHS, we mean that in addition to tuition, which is already free, there will be no admission fees, no library fees, no science center fees, no computer laboratory fees, no examination fees, no utility fees. There will be free textbooks, free boarding and free meals and day students will get a meal at school for free,” said President Akufo-Addo.

The program covers topics including agricultural, vocational and technical studies at the high school level, which will prepare students to be successful members of the community.

With free education opportunities, more children throughout Ghana will be able to attend school, especially girls who struggle with increasing teen pregnancy and teen marriage rates.

Students interested in the free SHS program need to apply, and the most eligible candidates are granted access. Girls, for aforementioned reasons, are prioritized in the decision process in an attempt to increase the number of educated Ghanaian females.

All applicants are fairly reviewed for the free education program, and so far over 420,000 young Ghanaians have applied. Out of these, 267,327 applicants have been accepted and placed in schools. When students are denied initial acceptance into the free SHS program at the school of their choice, they are placed on a waiting list and provided a selection of schools with vacancies.

The free education program has been fully supported by the Ghanaian government, and the opening ceremony at WASS was attended by the President, Vice President of the Republic, Minister for Education, Minister of State for Education and several officials from the Ministry of Education.

The work done by the Ghanaian government to provide free SHS opportunities will open the door for several young students who would otherwise remain uneducated with slim to no future career prospects.

“The coming into effect of the free SHS policy is vital for the transformation of the Ghanaian economy,” President Akufo-Addo said.

Kassidy Tarala

Photo: Flickr

Ghana's Prison Music ProgramIn celebration of his 40 years in the music business, gospel singer Yaw Sarpong has brought the Prison Project to life. The Prison Project’s main purpose is to teach Ghanaian prisoners how to express themselves through gospel music.

The Prison Project is a collaboration between the Yaw Foundation and Ghana Prisons Service, which intends to build music centers throughout Ghana’s prison system, beginning with Ankaful Maximum Security Prison. According to Joy Online, the Yaw Foundation is dedicated to transforming the lives of the prisoners with music. The Ghana Prisons Service wants to use this program to certify prisoners in music and other skills.

Ghana’s prison music program not will not only focus on music education; the Prison Project’s project and fundraising coordinator Esther Tettekuor Quayson states that the program will focus on other outreach programs as well. She also discusses how an education in music can lead to a desire for education in other areas – which is clearly a benefit to both prisoners and society as a whole.

Beyond education, the creators of Ghana’s prison music program hope to instill in Ghanaian prisoners leadership qualities. Quayson discusses in Ghana Web how she envisions prisoners becoming new leaders within the country.

What about the personal benefits of Ghana’s prison music program to the prisoners? According to Quayson, music gives them the opportunity to express the issues that they are dealing with. It also builds up their confidence and drive to succeed in their lives after they leave prison. Thus, the program is designed to assist with the prisoners’ ability to successfully re-enter society. Quayson states in Ghana Web that “There is therefore the need to provide solutions and programmes that will help society understand the plights of our prisoners and ex-convicts and take up their roles in shaping their lives to fit into society.”

Ghana’s prison music program is already off to a strong start. The Prison Project currently has an advisory board and a passionate group of young people willing to work with the program. Yaw Sarpong’s church is also planning a soccer game and a concert in support of the project. The Prison Project illustrates a commitment to rehabilitating prisoners in ways that will benefit the prisoners themselves and their society.

Cortney Rowe