The Northern Region has suffered tribal conflicts, persistent poverty and out-migration of the youth. Following the Nanumba/Kokomba conflicts and the 2002 Dagbon Chieftaincy crisis in the north of Ghana, the area became more unstable and people were very wary of one another. Preparations for senior school exams were disrupted for many students and failure rates were high. Poverty and food insecurity were also high in the area, and economic opportunities were limited. Women’s participation in decision-making was minimal, and concern over the spread of HIV/AIDS was on the increase. With funding from the Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA), FoE-Ghana led two projects in the area to address these major concerns.
The projects sought to: encourage peaceful relations between the different ethnic groups; assist the senior school children to complete their studies; improve food security in the area and broaden livelihood opportunities for women; increase women’s participation in local decision-making, and broaden the awareness about HIV/AIDS. Some of the achievements and outcomes of the two projects include:
The students who retook their SSSE exams all passed, giving them the opportunity to continue their studies the following year which they otherwise would not have been able to do. Food security in the area has improved with the production of beans and groundnuts, and the capacity to process food has allowed long-term storage so there is food during the hungry gap. There is also less wastage and improved profits for farmers. More children are now attending school because of the women’s increased incomes, and the level of girl child participation in education has increased.
The boreholes have provided access to clean potable water in communities where guinea worm is endemic. The new water sources also reduce the time women and girls take to fetch water, which means women have more time for to use their new income generating skills, while the girls can get to school promptly. A small fee for the water is paid towards borehole maintenance.
Women’s access to credit is traditionally very difficult because they do not own land or other resources as collateral to approach banks and other loan providers. The rotating ‘susu’ micro-credit scheme has enabled trainees to access credit for establishing their own businesses and sometimes even take on trainees.
Women’s groups have been formed based on traditional structures with the Magazia, or women’s leader, as the chairperson. The Magazia is being supported by other group members to speak on women’s affairs at local meetings to ensure women’s concerns are addressed in decision-making.