Women and Youth Economic and Social Empowerment for Sustainable Development in the Volta Region of Ghana (2006)
While FoE-Ghana was completing some activities in the Volta Region, a part of the primary school in Tafi Mador collapsed during the rains. The Chief and elders asked for support from FoE-Ghana to build a new school. By collaborating with the Polish Green Network, FoE-Ghana was able to raise funds from the Polish-Canadian Development Cooperation through the Education for Democracy Foundation. The project encompassed youth and women’s economic empowerment activities, HIV/AIDS awareness raising and training, provision of a primary school, and an information campaign in Poland about the project and the development needs of African countries.
The Tafi Mador school was in a very poor state of repair. Lack of windows and doors meant the children were exposed to the rains, and the sand floor resulted in spiders and insects invading the classrooms. Children had to bring their own tables and chairs because the school didn’t have any, and children who couldn’t afford them had to sit on the sand floor where the insects bit them. The poor state of the school and the lack of facilities meant teachers didn’t want to work there.
HIV/AIDS is also a concern throughout Ghana, so awareness creation is important. Poverty levels are high, and is also linked to the spread of HIV/AIDS. Women are disproportionately affected by both.
To address some of the issues, the project aims were towards: the economic and social empowerment of women and youth in the Vakpo traditional area; awareness raising about HIV/AIDS; and provision of a new school for the children.
- One hundred unemployed women and youth were trained in batik and tie-dye fabric design during two 2-week long training sessions
- Training over one hundred youth (around half were man and half were women to ensure gender balance) as peer educators to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS within their communities. They learned about how HIV can be transmitted, strategies for prevention, care of HIV/AIDS patients, voluntary counselling and testing, and public awareness strategies, communication, sensitisation and media support. Trainees were given materials such as awareness leaflets and condoms to distribute in their communities
- Establishing two pineapple farms, one organic, for the women to produce pineapples for the nearby fruit juice processing factory
- We organised public awareness activities on the risk of sexually transmitted diseases. These included durbars; drama performances by schoolchildren about the stigma that HIV/AIDS can cause; speeches in churches and mosques; and leaflets and posters distributed in communities
- Rebuilding a six-classroom primary school for 180 children aged 6-11. The knock-on effect is a better future for the children, and more time for the mothers to engage in their income generating activities while the children are at school. Teachers are willing to teach in the new school. Equipment was also provided including desks, cupboards and blackboards
- Awareness campaign in Poland about the project and the development needs of African communities was also organised. This included preparation of a documentary, photographs and briefing notes by the Polish Green Network which was published on their website, and the documentary was shared via DVD.
The project was very successful in giving unemployed women and youth new economic opportunities. They have formed producer groups to ensure the marketing of their products is more successful. When women have an income they able to ensure the education of their children.
Training the peer educators ensured the messages of HIV/AIDS awareness were shared throughout their communities, reaching thousands of people. People attending the community durbars also shared their new knowledge with their friends, families and neighbours helping to spread the messages further.
The new school continues to provide education to new and existing students every year, and will give them a good start in life and opportunities they otherwise would not have had.