Peaceful and Sustainable Development in the Northern Region
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:
- Training and education to give people new skills and techniques for coping with conflict causes, resolution and management, reconciliation methods, post-conflict reconstruction, and peace building
- Formation of social clubs and economic groups in communities and schools to bring together the different ethnic groups in mutually supportive ways. The women developed trade links and travelled to one another’s areas without fear of intimidation, while the youth from both the Adani and Abudu gates came together to exchange ideas and opinions without any concerns
- Around 200 local youth who failed their SSSE exams were funded to retake them. Funds were also provided to pay for tuition and books
- To help reduce food insecurity in their area, activities included: supplying farm tools and seeds, especially of leguminous crops; and providing shea butter and gari processing centres for the women to add value to their agricultural produce
- To help reduce poverty in the area, activities included: training women and youth in batik and tie-dye textile design; provision of micro-credit via a revolving ‘susu’ fund; workshops on business management and book-keeping; and providing bicycles with trailers for women to transport their farm and other produce to markets
- Boreholes in three communities to provide access to potable water
- Construction of a training centre and workshop facility including dressmaker training room and a computer suite
- Workshops for women and youth on women’s and child rights to build their capacity for participating in local decision-making
- To help reduce HIV transmissions, activities included: Formation of HIV/AIDS prevention youth clubs in schools; awareness raising about sexually transmitted diseases; provision of an HIV/AIDS Voluntary Counselling and Testing Centres; and training a project staff member in HIV/AIDS screening and counselling
- A pre-school built in Zabzugu for 150 young children of kindergarten school age each year. This enables the mothers to concentrate more fully on using their businesses learned during the projects. The school has been very popular and has been unable to accommodate the number of children eager to attend.
Particular successes of the project
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.