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

Why Poverty ExistsPoverty has causes deeply rooted in evolving human interests. In today’s society, the interpretations for why poverty exists have become intertwined in history, politics and the economy. The big question being asked—are people suffering needlessly?—deserves an answer.

A Lack of Resources

The World Health Organization reports that nearly 700 million people in the world lack access to safe water. According to The World Food Programme, nearly 800 million, or one in nine people, lack the food and nutrition necessary to live a healthy and active life.

Water and food are becoming an increasingly large concern as the world population is expected to reach between nine and 11 billion by the end of the century. However, the world already produces enough food to feed 10 billion people. Furthermore, with desalination and water recycling technology, supplying safe drinking water to even the driest areas of the world is possible with enough energy and money.

Despite the rising population, there are currently more than enough resources to nourish everyone, and there exists a significant incentive to disperse these resources. Every U.S. dollar spent on water and sanitation returns $4 to the global economy. Likewise, every dollar spent on proven nutrition interventions returns $16, as adequately nourished children go on to have higher IQs, increased education and better salaries.

On the right track, Congress recently passed the Global Food Security Act, which provides a platform and allocated funding to develop a global nutrition security strategy. Many developed nations have similar programs, but despite the economic incentive to provide water and food security, not enough funding is provided for these programs. There have been steps taken to end resource poverty but not at the necessary scale.

A Lack of Education

At the heart of many narratives, and perhaps a symptom of the larger issue, individual shortcomings are the reasons why poverty exists. Those who are unable to compete in the market do so because they lack skills relative to the population at large.

For many, disadvantage takes the form of fewer opportunities for education and economic growth. More than 72 million children of school age are not in school, and 759 million adults remain illiterate and unable to better their living conditions.

For others, disadvantage begins with conception. Prenatal malnutrition, drug use, environmental toxins and even stress can lead to poor brain development in the womb. Poor development begets poor performance as well as inadequate skills to compete economically. A lack of skills and education becomes the cause of one generation’s poverty, and a symptom of that of the next.

Many steps in the cycle of why poverty exists are easily preventable. Over 16,000 children under the age of five die of preventable causes, and 800 women die everyday related to childbirth and pregnancy. The Reach Every Mother and Child Act, which has been introduced to the House and Senate, aims to help save the lives of 600,000 women and 15 million children by 2020, and will help to ensure healthy development. Healthy, well-nourished children are much easier to educate.

Social v. Economic Reasons

Institutionalized inequalities create cycles of poverty exacerbated by lack of resources, education and opportunity.

Political systems that favor the wealthy may not have the interests of the working poor at heart. Corrupt governments prevent aid from reaching those in need. Social structures may prevent movement between classes. Historical exploitation of a country’s resources may have long-lasting effects, and oppression of a population leads to large income disparities. One does not have to search far to find documented examples of each of these depravities, and they even point to a larger problem than just a lack of resources or skills.

If we are in fact past our colonial era, then our involvement in developing countries should be in the interest of cultivating a global economy–one that works for all countries involved. Allocating funds to foreign aid and growth is a step in that direction. Domestic and foreign interests need not be mutually exclusive.

Successful poverty reduction exists but could be improved and expanded with more time and resources. The U.S allocates only 0.19 percent of its gross national income to foreign aid. Only six countries have ever met the target laid forth by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, which sits at just 0.7 percent of GNI. Not only will aid help improve the global economy, but also many developed countries play a role in creating the political and social inequalities listed above. With economics and ethics on the side of the poverty reduction, is 0.19 percent cutting it?.

In a fair world, choice will be the only reason for why poverty exists, and at that point it can be deemed inevitable, but at present, the suffering of many stems from causes, if not within our control, then within our reach.

Lia Ferguson

Photo: Pixabay