Global Communities Poverty in Ghana
A non-profit organization called Global Communities works to end poverty in Ghana with a 5-point plan in conjunction with USAID’s Multi-Sectoral Nutrition Strategy.

The non-profit organization works in more than 20 countries around the world, with Ghana being a focus of the recent programs. Global Communities, created about 60 years ago, works with the private sector, governments and local communities to provide the “means and ability to live and prosper with dignity,” something it ensures under its organization’s vision.

The Maryland-based organization paired with USAID in support of the Multi-Sectoral Nutrition Strategy to be implemented over the years 2014-2025. The program’s goal seeks to reduce chronic malnutrition by 20 percent over those 11 years. Global Communities has put forth these five goals in hopes of accelerating the fight against malnutrition in Ghana.

1. Provide more opportunities for economic growth through microfinance

Individuals who do not have access to the capital provided by large financial services corporations can gain access to funds through various microfunding institutions. These smaller companies allow a more intimate relationship between the lender and the borrower. Global Communities works through Boafo Microfinance Services in order to provide low-income Ghanaians with the money for new businesses, education and homes.

2. Build a more “resilient” Ghana by improving the nutrition in local diets

In order to reach this goal, Global Communities has partnered with the USAID/Ghana Resiliency in Northern Ghana (RING) program to “reduce poverty and improve the nutritional status of vulnerable populations.” The introduction of the sweet potato in local Ghanaian farms was a successful implementation of the partnership. Both USAID and Global Communities hope to educate communities on the importance of good nutrition instead of just providing temporary relief.

3. Create pathways for urban youth to become financially independent

Global Communities has joined the Youth Inclusive Entrepreneurial Development Initiative For Employment in opening up the construction sector to Ghana’s youth. In five of the biggest cities in Ghana, the initiative hopes to “reach more than 23,000 youth” by teaching them the skills for employment. Because Africa’s youth makes up a majority of the population, targeting this demographic is the most effective way to reducing poverty in Ghana.

4. Improve access to clean water and sanitation

Working with both the public and private sector, Global Communities is working to enhance the current water and sanitation infrastructure. With focus on “slum communities” in three cities, the non-profit seeks to optimize every individual’s condition while constructing water and sanitation services that can be sustainable. These efforts are paired with USAID’s Water Access Sanitation and Hygiene for the Urban Poor (WASH-UP) and USAID’s WASH for Health (W4H). An important part of the relief is affecting a change in behavior which can help create a poverty-free society that operates without relief.

5. Upgrade local neighborhoods and reinforce political and social institutions

After the basic needs of food, water and shelter are met, a society can begin to upgrade its political, economic and social conditions. Global Communities, with the Bill & Melinda Gates SCALE-UP program, echoes this idea as it reinforces educational and financial institutions for residents in the low-income communities of Accra and Sekondi-Takoradi. The expansion of government services, such as female inclusivity and public transportation, in those regions is being implemented through the Our City, Our Say project.

Global Communities is just part of a larger non-profit coalition fighting against global poverty in Ghana. The process includes numerous programs with funding from various foreign governments, each generating results through their focus on different parts of the Ghanaian society. Readers can follow the various programs and outcomes on the Global Communities website.

Jacob Hess

Sources: Global Communities 1, Global Communities 2, USAID 1, USAID 2
Photo: Borgen Project

Global Communities Empowering the Vulnerable
Global Communities, an international nonprofit headquartered in Silver Spring, Maryland, works in over 20 countries around the world to bring about sustainable change for some of the world’s most vulnerable. In order to improve the lives of the poor, Global Communities engages with governments, the private sector and non-government organizations to work with communities and not just provide services for them.

Global Communities was founded in 1952 as the Foundation for Cooperative Housing and has expanded its work to Africa, Asia, Europe and the Caucasus, Latin America and the Caribbean, as well as the Middle East. Its work is founded on the principle of “bringing together complementary strengths and shared responsibilities to work toward common goals,” and focuses on empowering entire communities to become healthy and self-sufficient.

Global Communities boasts expertise in the following areas: Economic Development, Micro/SME/Housing Finance, Infrastructure and Construction, Governance and Urban Management, Civil Society and Capacity Development, Global Health, Humanitarian Assistance, Working With Women and Youth and Food Security and Agriculture. They apply these expertise to communities around the world to solve complex problems and strengthen weak systems.

To begin a new project, Global Communities engages a new community by holding a community-wide council meeting where local leaders direct the decision making and prioritization processes for future work. Throughout the entire process of development, community leaders are closely involved with the project to help ensure a higher likelihood of sustainability.

Once projects are complete, they are often maintained by the local government, an important reason for local government to be involved from the start. When communities do not have positive relationships with their government, for example, in post-conflict situations, Global Communities works to teach these two parties to interact constructively.

In regard to other partnerships, Global Communities works to build the technical capacity of local organizations as they tackle a problem together and advises businesses in the private sector. All the while, the goal is to eventually make the work of Global Communities unnecessary—that is, empower the community to undertake their own development without outside help.

Global Communities’ financial approach is accountable, efficient and effective, with 89.6 percent of its funds spent on programs. Each dollar is accountable to the donor, whether that donor be an individual or a government. Progress for each project is managed by donor’s standards, and regular updates are given on the Global Communities website as well as in publications. They have repeatedly won the MIX Transparency Award for their work in micro-finance as well as many awards throughout the years. Find an exhaustive list here.

After 60 years of work, Global Communities understands that the world is continually changing and always will be. These changes are acknowledged, but Global Communities will continue to thrive as an organization that recognizes its core purpose amid a changing world- to “empower the vulnerable and help them be leaders of their own development.”

– Madisson Barnett

Sources: Global Government, Charity Navigator
Photo: The Artrium

Founded in 1952 as a domestic organization, the Foundation for Cooperative Housing (FCH)  built homes for people in need. In the 1960s, FCH spread its model to Central America, working with native communities to meet their housing needs. By the 1980s, FCH began working entirely internationally and shifted the focus from housing to other community needs, such as sanitation, health, and food safety. In 2012, FCH changed its name to Global Communities to acknowledge, not only the changes in the international realities of the twenty-first century but, the core intent of the organization to empower local communities towards change and economic development.

Global Communities operates according to four core values: being genuine, committed, connected, and purposeful. Accordingly, their mission is “to be a catalyst for long-lasting positive change in low- and moderate- income communities around the world, helping them improve their social, economic, and environmental conditions. Our reputation is built on the strong relationships we have with the communities we serve – engaging and involving them throughout the development process to keep control and ownership in their hands.” Global Communities ‘areas of expertise’ include: economic development, infrastructure and construction, governance and urban management, civil society and capacity development, global health, humanitarian assistance, food security and agriculture, working with women and youth, and micro-, SME, and housing finance.

Global Communities is funded by US government bodies, international development agencies, corporations, major foundations, loyal supporters and even the private sectors of the local communities where they operate. Although individual corporations and organization may find it difficult to effectively disburse aid, Global Communities brings all of this funding together to create more effective programs. Most importantly, Global Communities’ spends less than 10% of all aid on administrative and fundraising expenses, an extremely low rate among international NGOs.

Global Communities encourages community-led development by first engaging communities in community-wide meetings, which later create elected community councils. The council then leads all decision-making and prioritizes the community projects sponsored by Global Communities. Once the projects are completed, the council signs off on the project before receiving ownership. According to Global Communities, involvement and ownership translate into long-term sustainability. Although the projects must be maintained by the local government after completion, the governments are involved in the earliest stages of design. In most areas where Global Communities operates, interaction between the local government and the population is traditionally low, especially in conflict-affected regions. Accordingly, Global Communities provides training to both the population and the government on how to interact effectively.

Additionally, Global Communities works towards ‘capacity building,’ or improving a country or community’s ability to meet its needs effectively. The most effective capacity building takes place when local knowledge is combined with outside expertise to find innovative solutions which were once unavailable, if not unimaginable, to the community. Hence, Global communities operates utilizing 95-100% of local staff on any one project. The expatriates are not always American, but more often than not, regional experts. Throughout the course of the project, the local staff become trained expatriates for the region or the country at large and are capable of spreading their knowledge to nearby communities. As the local capacity is built, the number of outside experts are downsized and the projects are run entirely by regional or national staff.

After more than 60 years in the field, Global Communities is a knowledgeable and effective organization working towards more than just community betterment. According to chairman Robert A. Mosbacher, “…growth of private sector investment presents a powerful tool to lift people out of poverty. It is an opportunity that needs to be understood and seized. If those of us, who want to see stable, peaceful world economies and a reduction in poverty simply rely on the traditional donor-recipient framework of foreign aid, we will miss a great opportunity to make a difference.” Ultimately, Global Communities sees more than just helping communities out in a time of need – for the organization, it is about developing sustainable communities which will thrive as emerging economies.

Kelsey Ziomek

Sources: Global Communities
Photo: Rock Harbor

Global Communities is an international non-profit that works to bring about sustainable changes to the lives of vulnerable people. They work with community members to determine the needs to the community. They utilize a multi-faceted approach by mobilizing the communities, governments, the private sector and NGOs to work together. They bring together complementary strengths and shared responsibilities of given organizations to work toward a common goal.

Global Communities was previously named CHF International. Founded in 1952, they currently work in 20 countries in Africa, Asia, Europe & the Caucasus, Latin America & the Caribbean and the Middle East. Their mission is “to be a catalyst for long-lasting positive change in low- and moderate-income communities around the world helping them to improve their social, economic, and environmental conditions.” They strive to be genuine, committed, connected and purposeful in every project they pursue.

Their funding comes from governments, foundations, local groups and the private sector in order to maximize impact and effectiveness. They try to create self-sustaining organizations that can withstand crises and work well and efficiently on their own.

Global Communities implements innovative housing techniques to help the most vulnerable of populations. They work to make living conditions more stable and desirable in the developing world. One such population is the Nairobi community in Kenya. The slums there feature some of the most-at-risk populations in Kenya with high unemployment, cramped living spaces, and marginalization from mainstream society. There are also ethnic, religious, and political tensions present.

Global Communities’ project in Nairobi is funded through USAID and is called the Kenya Tuna Uwezo program. This program aims to reduce politically motivated conflict in the area. Global Communities is strengthening social networks of community members and civil society groups. They are working with PeaceNet and Kituo Cha Sheria, partner organizations, to engage young people with the goal of reducing resistance within and between identity groups. They are also fostering communication between ethnic lines while also ensuring technical and organizational capacity of partners to ensure the program can be sustained.

Global Communities has projects all over the world focusing on a range of topics including economic development, micro, SME and Housing Finance, infrastructure and construction, governance and urban development, civil society and municipal development, global health, and emergency response. Global Communities is an important ally in providing development assistance to countries in need, and one that can provide an important link between USAID funding and actual on the ground development and progress.

– Caitlin Zusy 
Source: Global Communities