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President Mahama Fights to End Poverty
John Dramani Mahama is the President of the Republic of Ghana where over than 26 million people reside. Of note, with approximately 4.5 million of Ghanans currently live in poverty.

While this number sounds overwhelming, President Mahama has been focused on ending extreme poverty within his country. His most recent undertaking has been the Savannah Accelerated Development Authority or SADA.

The mission of SADA, according to its website, is to “catalyze the transformation of the NSEZ through citizens’ mobilization, strategic planning, successful coordination and collaboration and facilitation (CCF) for effective public sector delivery and private sector investment.”

The President met with World Bank leaders, including Dr. Jim Yong Kim on Oct. 16, urging them to support the SADA program.

In this meeting, President Mahama said that “although Africa had made some giant strides in reducing extreme poverty, there were still millions of people living in that condition, and expressed the hope that extreme poverty could be eradicated by 2030.”

Ghana has already implemented the following:

  1. Structural transformation
  2. Investment in education
  3. Creation of more jobs with growth

Despite the success thus far, President Mahama continues to push for further improvement to reach the goal of ending extreme poverty by 2030.

Through the SADA program, Ghana hopes to increase sustainability, professionalism, integrity, respect for diversity and trust for all stakeholders. In order to achieve this, it has outlined three main objectives:

  1. Providing strategic vision and planning to the government consistent with the national plan but one which will ensure accelerated, integrated and comprehensive development of the Northern Savannah Ecological Zone in consultation with stakeholders.
  2. Mobilizing human, financial and other resources for the implementation of the accelerated development strategy.
  3. Coordinating existing and future development and related policies affecting the Northern Savannah Ecological Zone with a view to ensuring coherence in policy-making and implementation.

With all of this in mind, President Mahama has expressed high hopes of success.

“Through the bank’s new guarantee scheme… we should be able to come out with another groundbreaking program to help put some real and concrete programs in place behind the call for eradication of poverty by 2030,” Mahama said in the meeting with the World Bank.

As of right now, the World Bank has agreed to support the program with the hopes that Ghana will continue to show improvements in terms of ending extreme poverty.

Katherine Martin

Sources: Rural Poverty Portal, Sadagh, Graphic
Photo: Flickr

Ghana
The president of Ghana announced at a ceremony earlier this month that the West African nation’s government has signed new grants with Global Fund, an international financing organization that invests around $4 billion a year to support programs fighting AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis (TB).

The seven new grants, totaling $248 million, come from many supporters, including the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, the U.K. Department for International Effort, the European Union, Denmark, Korea, UNICEF, UNAIDS and WHO, among others.

The primary objective of the grants is to increase how many people receive protection and treatment for HIV, malaria and TB. Specifically, the key targets address certain aspects of prevention and treatment and aim to complete the goals by 2017.

Among the goals of the grants are for 140,448 people to be assured antiretroviral treatment to control HIV, as well as increase coverage for an additional 32,246 pregnant women.

The funds will also aim to expand services to protect key affected populations from HIV, including 65 percent of female sex workers, 88 percent of homosexual men, and 80 percent of inmates, in addition to providing annual testing services for 20 percent of the general population.

In terms of malaria, the funds will be used to secure treatment for 80 percent of children under five, as well as have mosquito nets in 70 percent of households.

For TB, the goal is to double case notification rates to 103 per 100,000 and make sure 100 percent of drug-resistant patients on second-line treatment are covered for treatment, up from 42 percent in 2013.

Additionally, Ghanaian officials want to use the funds to better integrate treatment for HIV and TB in community health clinics.

The government of Ghana also plans to use domestic funds to cover the expenses for antiretroviral drugs for 22,000 current patients and 11,000 new patients.

The nation was the first to sign a grant with Global Fund, doing so in 2002, seeing advances in overall health as a result.

Since 2010, there has been a 43 percent decrease in new HIV infections, and between 2009 and 2014, there was a 51 percent drop in new infections in children. The percentage of coverage dealing with preventing mother-to-child transmission is now at 81 percent, up from 32 percent.

Successes have also been seen in preventing and treating malaria and TB, as government officials and other organizations have distributed a combined 19 million mosquito nets, as well as detected and treated 76,000 new TB cases and having 88,000 people currently in antiretroviral therapy.

Matt Wotus

Sources: AllAfrica, The Global Fund
Photo: Pixabay

z1 splash

The Global Health Watch Report (GHW), a report focused on monitoring and evaluating global health, launched in Accra, Ghana late last month.

This year’s report, the fourth edition, was launched with the theme: “Watchdogging an Essential Element to Ensuring the Right to Health.”

The purpose of GHW is to create a voice in favor of alternative dialogue when it comes to global health. The report combines analysis, alternative proposals and stories of those struggling to obtain sufficient levels of health care.

The launch of the report comes at a time when health care in Ghana remains underfunded and health officials are fighting for justice and equality for health care.

The government of Ghana is still dealing with issues such as poor sanitation and open defecation, which it spends $290 million and $79 million on, respectively, each year. Additionally, the delivery of health care sees an annual cost of $54 million.

By improving sanitation and hygiene, Ghana can help decrease the burden it sees from the spread of disease. Health officials are also calling for funds to assist with promoting and sustaining behavior changes in regards to sanitation and hygiene practices in local areas.

When it comes to the delivery of health care, health officials are calling for joint efforts to make sure citizens have universal access to sexual and reproductive health. They also want to see improved and equal distribution of resources for such care.

Eighty experts from around the world made contributions to the report, which also addresses issues seen in health systems and looks at how social, political, economic and environmental factors play a role in health care.

Matt Wotus

Sources: AllAfrica, Global Health Watch
Photo: Flickr

Chocolate Company Creates Jobs for Women in Ghana

Divine Chocolate is a Fair Trade chocolate company partially owned by Kuapa Kokoo Limited. Kuapa Kokoo is Ghana’s leading farmer’s cooperative for chocolate, dedicated to quality both in their products and in the lives of the members.

The Fair Trade aspect of the company prevents large organizations from taking advantage of the small-farm cocoa farmers. This allows the farmers to receive a fair income and reduces the chances of child labor and forced labor.

One of the more important aspects of Divine Chocolate is the emphasis on the empowerment of women. Approximately 32 percent of the Kuapa Kokoo cooperative is made up of women. Women are given the opportunity to learn business skills, reading and writing skills, and even new trades through the Divine Chocolate’s Women’s Cocoa Farming Training program and the Kuapa Kokoo Women’s Fund.

The lack of education among women farmers in Ghana makes it easy for others to take advantage of them. The additional education helps protect the women from those who may cheat them and also increases their ability to run efficient farms and produce quality cocoa.

Women in the co-op who have higher levels of education are encouraged to become leaders. Those who have learned other skills have the opportunity to take out microloans from the Kuapa Kokoo Credit Union to start their own businesses. This allows them to receive a secondary income, especially when cocoa beans are not in season. Christiana Ohene-Agyare was the first woman to be nominated president of the Kuapa Kokoo cooperative in 2010.

“Being a member of Kuapa Kokoo has taught me that whatever a man can do, a woman can also do and even better,” said Ohene-Agyare to Divine Chocolate.

Kuapa Kokoo and Divine Chocolate are changing the view of women in Ghana through their innovative structure. Women are given the opportunity to learn, lead and make money through the training program and the Kuapa Kokoo Women’s Fund. The extra income earned by the women allows them to send their children to school as well.

Ghana is the second-largest producer of cocoa behind the Ivory Coast.

Iona Brannon

Sources: Divine Chocolate, Fair Trade USA, Fair Trade, Good News Network
Photo: The News

World_Bank
Ghana’s Sankofa Gas Project will soon be getting help from the World Bank in the sum of $700 million. It is the hope that with such an infusion of funds, Ghana will be able to address its serious energy needs through development and affordable domestic natural gas production.

The Republic of Ghana is a small African sovereign nation situated off the coast of the Atlantic Ocean and in the Gulf of Guinea. With a population of approximately 25 million, it has enjoyed a growing economy and is anticipated to be the first African country to become developed between 2020 and 2029.

“Ghana Vision 2020,” as their economic plan is called, also projects it to be a newly industrialized country between 2030 and 2039. However, in recent years, despite its energy-rich natural resources, the nation has suffered macroeconomic shocks partly due to challenges being faced by the country’s power sector.

Ghana is believed to have between 5 billion barrels and 7 billion barrels of petroleum in reserves, which is the fifth-largest in Africa and the 21st to 25th largest proven reserves in the world. It also has up to 1.7×1,011 cubic meters (6×1,012 cubic feet) of natural gas in reserves, which is the sixth-largest in Africa and the 49th largest natural gas proven reserves in the world.

Yet, public resources have been significantly drained in recent years. The government has spent millions in fuel subsidies as water shortages for hydropower, erratic gas supplies from external sources and delays in the development of domestic gas resources and new power plants have led to frequent power outages mostly affecting the poor. The new project is meant to help offset these issues with the development of the vast natural energy resources Ghana has.

Recently, the World Bank’s Board of Directors approved a unique combination of two guarantees for the Sankofa Gas Project—one from the International Development Association (IDA) and another from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD).

The IDA payment guarantee of $500 million will support timely payments for gas purchases by Ghana National Petroleum Corporation and an IBRD Enclave Loan guarantee of $200 million will enable the project to secure financing from its private sponsors.

Together, the guarantees are expected to mobilize $7.9 billion in new private investment for offshore natural gas, representing the biggest foreign direct investment in Ghana’s history.

The Sankofa Gas Project and its exploration and commercialization of the gas, located 60 kilometers (37.37 miles) offshore will fuel up to 1,000 megawatts of clean power generation, replacing polluting and expensive oil-burning electricity.

The Sankofa field is expected to begin production in 2018, and, once operational, Ghana will be able to reduce its oil imports by up to 12 million barrels a year and cut carbon emissions by 1.6 million metric tons of carbon dioxide annually.

The energy project will be crucial in securing Ghana’s natural gas resources and a more affordable reliable power supply. It will also be essential for economic development and a boost in the quality of life for Ghanaians and the rest of Sub-Saharan Africa.

– Jason Zimmerman

Sources: The World Bank, Bloomberg, Graphic
Photo: WAdr

RING_project
Ghana halved the number of people living in extreme poverty before the 2015 Millennium Development Goal (MDG) deadline, but many of the challenges remain in certain parts of the country. In the northern region, poverty needs to be reduced by 11.7 percent to meet the target; in the upper west region, it needs to be reduced by 41.8 percent.

Since 1996, the proportion of undernourished people in Ghana has dropped from 23.5 percent to 2.9 percent. However, the prevalence of underweight children under five years of age hasn’t changed much since 2007.

In July, seven District Chief Executives decided to join the USAID project “Resiliency in Northern Ghana” (RING), for one year. RING is a $60 million contract and is a part of USAID’s Feed the Future Initiative. The goal of RING is to reduce poverty in Ghana and improve nutrition in vulnerable populations.

USAID will focus on the lives of rural families by improving livelihoods and nutrition, with a goal to improve the nutritional status of children under two years as well as women. In return, the RING project will increase income for households, access to credit, community safety nets and output from agricultural activities.

By 2017, there will be a 20 percent reduction in stunted, wasting and underweight children.

Agricultural production is important in order to reduce poverty in Ghana. About 88 percent of livelihoods in northern Ghana rely on the production of crops, and 63 percent of all northern citizens live below the poverty line.

Other USAID projects focused on improving the quality of life in Ghana are the Systems for Health project and the Strengthening Partnerships, Results and Innovations in Nutrition Globally (SPRING) project.

Systems for Health is committed to reducing the number of underweight children and the rate of anemia in women and children in Ghana by 2019. The SPRING project is committed to reducing stunting and anemia in children under five years of age by 2017.

Feed the Future strategizes these projects by linking agricultural production to income. It acts by improving production methods to reduce harvest loss and bettering output for rural farmers, specifically in the northern regions where farming is more prominent.

USAID has reached more than 324,000 children and has improved their nutrition in order to reduce stunting and child mortality.

Reducing poverty in Ghana was achieved by lowering the national rate from 52 percent to 28 percent. Due to regional disparities, poverty is more prevalent in the north and needs sustainable agricultural methods to increase food security and catch up with the rest of the country.

Donald Gering

Sources: Business Ghana, Knoema, UNDP, USAID, WFP
Photo: USAID

cocoa

In Ghana, the cocoa bean sector is the second-largest economic sector behind gold. Accordingly, the welfare of the workers takes on heightened importance because of their magnitude and the importance they play in the Ghanaian economy.

In 2010, cocoa accounted for 8.2% of Ghana’s GDP and 30% of total export earnings. Cocoa production in Ghana is based on smallholder farms, which grow 90% of the cocoa. In total, in a country of roughly 26 million, around 700,000 households grow cocoa, and the livelihood of about 6 million people depends on the cocoa sector.

Beginning in 1947, Ghana’s government stepped forward to tightly control the cocoa trade. In the 1990s, this control slightly loosened at the behest of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund in order to provide loans for “structural adjustments.” This loosening led to the liberalization of internal marketing and privatization of the input market. Ultimately, relative to other cocoa producers in the world, Ghana still has a controlled marketing system.

In Ghana, there are many steps in the supply chain to get the cocoa beans from the farm to the manufacturer. According to the Cocoa Initiative, there are 7 to 10 steps, but in essence, the farmers sell their cocoa to a private buying company, which sells it to the Ghanaian government cocoa marketing board, which sells it to international buyers.

These extra steps in the supply chain move the producer farther from the consumer, siphoning the profits that the farmer would make if he or she sold directly to international buyers, to other actors in the supply chain. Looking beyond Ghana, Oxfam America estimates that cocoa farmers around the world make about three percent of the price of a chocolate bar.

Some global chocolate companies such as Nestle, Hershey and Mars have recognized the unsustainable aspects of cocoa farming in places such as Ghana. These companies, along with nine others, have joined the World Cocoa Foundation’s “CocoaAction” sustainability strategy. The strategy, comprised of educational opportunities and teaching farmers productivity-increasing farming methods, will affect 100,000 farmers in Ghana by 2020.

Ghana’s cocoa farmers have not sat idly by, either. To combat their disempowerment at the bottom of the supply chain, some farmers have turned to certification. Certification is a model in which farmers are awarded a premium, in addition to the price they receive for their cocoa when they work with certified chocolate companies.

Other Ghana cocoa farmers have created co-operatives, most notable of which is Kuapa Kokoo, meaning “good cocoa farmer.” Founded in 1993 and Fair Trade certified in 1995, the co-operative is a democratically run organization that brings its farmers into direct relationships with Fair Trade buyers. The Kuapa Kokoo co-operative made a historic move by forming its own chocolate marketing company, Divine, in 1999. This addition to the organization removes another actor from the supply chain, further facilitating the flow of money from the international buyers to the farmers who grew the cocoa.

By 2013, the co-operative had grown to hold over 87,000 members, of which 32% are women. Beyond dealing with the private sector, the co-operative has enough clout on village levels to leverage much support from the government, such as scholarships, credit and development resources.

These supports will prove crucial in improving the bargaining position of cocoa farmers and also allow them to educate their children. These benefits are the goal of arrangements such as certification and co-operatives, which have proved themselves to be effective in empowering the disempowered in Ghana.

Connor Bohannan

Sources: Cocoa Initiative, Divine Chocolate, Fairtrade, FAO, Ghana Cocoa Board, NBC, Papapaa, WIEGO
Photo: Flickr

medical_supportU.S. based Newmont Mining Corporation has partnered with Denver-based NGO Project C.U.R.E. to deliver $8 million in medical supplies and professional training for health providers in developing countries.

The contributions will be made in $200,000 installments over a three-year period and will help to facilitate the exchange of health care knowledge, experience and contacts in countries including Ghana, Indonesia, Peru and Suriname. The partnership is the newest installment in Newmont’s efforts to improve health care infrastructure in developing countries; so far the company has channeled $1.2 million into global health care initiatives.

“Newmont is proud to continue its support for the life-saving work Project C.U.R.E. does in developing countries around the world,” said Newmont Executive Vice President for Sustainability and External Relations Elaine Dorward-King. “Our two organizations are aligned in purpose, and our partnership gives us the means to improve lives by equipping health care professionals, tools and training necessary to help people in need.”

Earlier this year, Newmont launched the Helping Babies Breathe (HBB) program in Eastern Ghana in an effort to provide training to health personnel working to reduce infant mortality. The program teaches techniques for treating the effects of birth asphyxia, one of the conditions that have led to Ghana’s 12 percent infant mortality rate.

Project C.U.R.E. is the largest provider of donated medical supplies and equipment in developing countries and strives to provide the health care infrastructure and resources necessary for countries in the early stages of economic development. Support provided by the organization since 2004 includes medical supplies and training, protective gear and isolation facilities and supplies for wound care and medical examinations during Haiti’s recent cholera outbreak.

“This partnership has really been a full integration of both of our organizations,” said Project C.U.R.E. president/CEO Dr. Douglas Jackson. “The goal is to create infrastructure improvement, so that the whole system gets better. We want the employees at Newmont, the stakeholders and all the communities around the mine sites to be healthy.”

Many players in the mining industry have made conscious efforts to combat the social and environmental consequences that often result from their activities in developing countries by making economic development, environmental protection and social cohesion a part of their business models. In recent years, mining companies have integrated community support into their development contracts, which provide services including NGO support, community leadership training and mentoring and investments aimed at increasing business opportunities for local farmers.

In light of recent revelations regarding the implications of corporate activity on local communities – in Tanzania, for example, hydropower contracts have resulted in the displacement of hundreds of smallholder farmers – Newmont’s efforts are a reminder that corporations owe thanks to the communities in which they are permitted to operate. Programs such as Project C.U.R.E. enable them to contribute to the plight of rural communities and establish relationships that improve business conditions for American companies and generally improve the perceptions of American activity abroad.

Zach VeShancey

Sources: African Business Review, Mining Global 1, Mining Global 2
Photo: Mining Global

malnutrition_in_ghana

Ghana is one of the most successful countries in the Sub-Saharan Africa region in combating hunger and malnourishment. The proportion of undernourished people went from 23.5% in 1996 to 2.9% in 2013, allowing them to achieve the first Millennium Development Goal (MDG1) target for halving the proportion of people suffering from hunger.

In northern Ghana, 63% of the population lives in extreme poverty, and most rely on crop production. Most of the service and industrial industries are in the south, where poverty is less prevalent.

School feeding helps keep malnutrition low: every day, 368 million children around the world eat a meal at school. The World Food Programme (WFP) provides monthly rations to families who send their daughters to school, and they provide scholarships for secondary school to those who complete the program with an 85% attendance rate.

Over 1.7 million children every day are fed through the Ghana School Feeding Program. The Partnership for Child Development (PCD) is collaborating with the government to link nutrition with school meals and community training. One way the PCD is developing nutritious school meals is through the use of an online meal planner.

The web-based planner allows the user to create and add the costs from local ingredients. It links prices from local markets and displays the total cost of each meal. Only 12.3% of the population has access to the Internet, so for those who do not have access, the PCD developed an offline meal planner.

“By coupling high-tech digital resources such as the meals planner with low-tech engagement, integrated school feeding and health programs are vital if governments are to tackle the malnutrition crisis facing the next generation,” said Dr. Lesley Drake, executive director of PCD.

PCD is also combating malnutrition in Ghana through community meetings and 400 community-based champions of health and nutrition in order to convey the importance of proper nutrition and hygiene.

Feed the Future is fighting for food security in Ghana by focusing on rice, corn and soybean production to help farmers where poverty is most prevalent. The agricultural industry needs more support in order to do more research for crop-yielding and improve irrigation infrastructure.

USAID is committed to sustaining agricultural productivity by managing natural resources. Feed the Future and USAID activities support Ghana’s goals of reducing poverty and increasing food security.

Malnutrition in Ghana is declining due to programs like the online meal planner and the work of organizations like Feed the Future and USAID. Undernourishment and hunger continue to decline, but since 2007, the prevalence of underweight children under the age of five in Ghana has only dropped 0.5% after declining 11.8% between 1997 to 2007. Today, 13.9% of children under five in Ghana are underweight.

Donald Gering

Sources: HGSF, Impatient Optimist, Knoema, Social Progress Imperative, UNDP, USAID WFP 1, WFP 2
Photo: Modern Ghana

General Electric Grant to Pay University of Ghana Students' Tuition
A mere three percent of Ghanaians ages 18 to 21 are enrolled in some form of higher education. Nearly 80 percent of Ghana’s population survives on less than $2 per day, and university tuition is far from affordable for most.

However, thanks to a $100,000 General Electric grant, tertiary education will become a little more accessible for impoverished students in Ghana.

The University of Ghana, one of the country’s top-ranking institutions of higher learning, is the recipient of this grant. With 29,754 current students, the University of Ghana is both the largest and oldest public university in the country. It is one of six public tertiary educational institutions in Ghana, which, along with the 11 private post-secondary schools, make up Ghana’s university offerings.

According to the University of Sussex in Ghana, “46.6 percent of the nation’s income/expenditure is enjoyed by the richest 20 percent of the population, whereas the poorest 20 percent have access to only 5.6 percent of national income/expenditure.”

Access to education, especially secondary and post-secondary schooling can often become a luxury of the wealthy, entrenching patterns of poverty. Herein lies the importance of scholarships designated for financially disadvantaged students.

A well-instructed population benefits developing countries on a variety of levels. Education gives individuals a tool for socioeconomic mobility while also developing a knowledgeable and skilled workforce resource. This “human capital” is exactly the sort of resource Mr. Leslie Nelson, CEO of General Electric, Ghana, hopes to foster through ongoing partnerships with Ghanaian universities.

Education is an important part of development for impoverished countries. In Ghana, primary school enrollment is on the rise and literacy remains comparatively high for the region with youth literacy rising above that of adults. Although poverty still remains prevalent, these statistics offer a heartening glimpse of future developments.

Emma-Claire LaSaine

Sources: UG, AllAfrica, Sussex
Photo: How Africa