Ghana: Eight New Epicenter Buildings Near Completion in Eastern Region

International Women's Day -Kwaboadi-2009 021a.jpg

Update to the Global Board
(April 2009)

Overview

In line with The Hunger Project's (THP's) objective to increase food production and security, farmers have been supplied with 3,884 kg of maize seeds and 834 bags of NPK (Nitrogen, Phosphorous, and Potassium) and ammonia fertilizers to cultivate 485.5 acres of maize farms, which are expected to yield approximately 252,460 kg.

A total of 976 women received GHC 76,360 (US$60,126) in loans for the expansion of income-generating activities, particularly farming as compared to 595 women receiving GHC 46,800 (US$36,850) in the previous six months under the African Woman Food Farmer Initiative (AWFFI) microfinance program. The extension of the credit scheme to new epicenters in the Eastern Region largely accounts for the increase in the amount disbursed and the number of recipients.

Construction of the eight "year three" epicenter buildings (i.e. epicenter buildings to be completed during the third year of our grant from the Robertson Foundation) is progressing satisfactorily and is expected to be completed by June 2009. Some of the buildings have reached window level while others are even at the lintel level.

The expansion of THP-Ghana's activities under the scale-up program has resulted in the training of many more animators who are themselves reaching out to an increased number of people in the communities. For example, the number of people who participated in Vision, Commitment and Action Workshops (VCAW) increased from 8,916 in the previous period to 22,835 in the current reporting period. The Women Empowerment Project (WEP) animators also reached 12,400 people as compared to 9,568 in the previous period while the HIV/AIDS animators sensitized 12,837 people compared with the 11,387 previously reached.

The number of children attending child welfare clinics for weighing and immunization increased from 3,806 in the previous period to 4,616 as a result of the increasing number of epicenter clinics, especially in the Eastern Region where the scale up program is being implemented. A total of 98 babies were safely delivered compared with the 60 in the previous six months. The 12 epicenter clinics recorded 3,865 out-patients as compared to 2,828 in the previous period.

One of the key challenges has been the limited capacity of the District Health Management Teams (DHMTs) to provide health personnel, drugs and equipment to all the new epicenters that have been completed. Therefore, they can not ensure efficient delivery of health care services at the epicenter clinics. However, efforts are being made to overcome this problem through strengthening of THP's collaboration with the Ghana Health Service at the national level.

Details on Progress

Food Production and Security Improved

As the next major farming season approaches, the Agricultural trainers of trainers (TOTs) have educated 5,944 farmers (2,963 males and 2,971 females) in 142 partner communities. The farmers were educated on pest control, application of fertilizers and weedicides, as well as effective maize storage techniques with the aim to promote increased food production and security.

A total of 2,435.5 bags of 100 kg each (243,550 kg in total) of maize was harvested from 480 acres of farm cultivated by the partners with input support from THP during the farming season in 2008. Maize production per acre increased from 4.02 bags (402 kg) in 2007 to 5.2 bags (520 kg) as a result of the improved methods of farming being adopted by the farmers. A total of 3,884 kg of maize seeds and 834 bags of NPK and ammonia fertilizers have been supplied to partner farmers for the cultivation of 485.5 acres of new maize farms this year, which are expected to yield approximately 252,460 kg.

The existing 18 epicenter food banks were stocked with a total of 221.5 bags (22,150 kg) of maize.

Epicenter Buildings Constructed

The eight epicenter buildings earmarked for construction in the third year of the scale up program are ongoing at different stages of construction and are expected to be completed by June 2009. The buildings are being constructed at the following epicenters: Osonson, Dorminase, Otuater, Anyansu, Asenema, Abehenase/Atobriso, Darmang and Kokobeng.

The mobilization of eight communities for the construction of epicenter buildings in the fourth year is in progress.

Awareness increased through VCAWs

Community-level VCAWs were organized in 378 communities, which covered 22,835 people comprising 11,289 males and 11,546 females.

District-level VCAWs were organized in the three remaining new districts in the Eastern Region (Akwapim South, Yilo Krobo and Kwahu North), which covered 400 people from 112 communities.

VCAW animator-initiated projects supported

During the reporting period, the following communities were supported to complete kindergarten school buildings that they had initiated: Afabeng, Akotekrom, Otaipro, Zevor, Dademantse, Besease and Ofoasekuma, all in the Eastern Region.

HIV/AIDS awareness increased

Thirty-one new HIV/AIDS animators were trained, bringing the total number of animators trained so far to 162. The trained animators reached 12,837 people, including 7,181 females (54%) in 146 communities, educating them on the causes and prevention of the disease and highlighting the role of gender inequality in its spread. The number of people targeted to be reached was exceeded by 8%.

Gender awareness increased (WEP)

The WEP Animators carried out education on the civic, legal and reproductive health rights of women. They also organized education programs to enhance voter knowledge on the nuances of elections under the "We Know Politics Project," which was implemented in partnership with Women in Law and Development in Africa (WILDAF). The animators reached 12,400 people (5,076 males and 7,324 females) in 257 communities. The animators exceeded their target by 71%, mainly due to the voter education programs that were organized. Forty-four new WEP Animators, as compared to 40 that were targeted, have just completed the second in the series of three training workshops.

Partner communities assisted to improve their incomes through microfinance

A total loan of GHC 76,350 (US$60,118) was disbursed to 976 women as compared to GHC 21,389 (US$16,842) that was disbursed to 397 men to support increased income generation under the microfinance program. About 90% of the loans were disbursed to farmers to enable them to expand and intensify their farming activities.

Maternal and child mortality reduced

Child Welfare Clinic attendance recorded at 12 epicenter clinics was 4,527 comprising 2,393 females and 2,134 males. The children were weighed and immunized against the childhood killer diseases (i.e. polio, measles, TB, diphtheria, whooping cough, tetanus, hepatitis ‘B' haemophilus, influenza type ‘B' and yellow fever). Ninety-eight babies (51 females and 47 males) were safely delivered at the clinics. The epicenter clinics recorded 687 ante-natal patients during the reporting period.

Malaria and other diseases reduced

The epicenter clinics recorded 3,865 out-patients, of which 45% were malaria cases. This represents a 5% drop in reported malaria cases at the clinics as compared to the previous reporting period.

Partnerships

  • In an effort to strengthen THP's partnership with local government and to advocate national recognition of the Epicenter Strategy as an effective approach to rural development, the Country Director (CD) met with the Minister for Local Government and Rural Development. The CD briefed the Minister on THP's activities and how they are impacting the lives of people in the rural areas. The Minister expressed interest in collaborating with THP, which would the leverage required to take forward the partnership agenda.
  • In accordance with the existing partnership with the Ghana Health Service (GHS), Health Personnel, some equipment and drugs were supplied to the new epicenters in the Eastern Region including Supreso, Nkawanda, Ankoma, Wawase, Akotekrom and Kyeremase. As part of THP's effort to strengthen partnership with the GHS, the CD met with the Director General of the GHS to brief him on our development activities generally and the Community Health Improvement Program in particular. They also discussed priority areas of collaboration based on the challenges facing the Health Program which include the limitations in the supply of Health Personnel, equipment and drugs to the new epicenters that are being constructed.
  • During the period under review, THP collaborated with the following government departments and NGOs to train new animators, especially in the Eastern Region where the scale up program is being implemented:
    • Planned Parenthood Association of Ghana (PPAG) - for the training of 31 HIV/AIDS animators;
    • Women in Law and Development in Africa (WiLDAF) - for the training of 44 WEP animators; and
    • Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) - for the training of 40 Agricultural TOTs.

Broader Awareness and Advocacy

  • A feature article was published in the Daily Graphic, Ghana's most read newspaper (October 16, 2008) on the "We Know Politics Projects" which was implemented in partnership with WILDAF, Gender Center, CoWIG and FIDA-Ghana. The article covered an interview with the CD on the objectives of the project. The project aimed at increasing the participation of women in Ghana's 2008 general elections and to ensure that the concerns of women were taken on board by the Presidential and Parliamentary aspirants.
  • A campaign that was organized in Matsekope Epicenter on "Violence Against Women" was given coverage by a local FM station (Radio Ada) on December 11, 2008, highlighting the various types of violence against women and their effects. The campaign was organized as part of the worldwide celebration of "16 Days of Activism on Violence Against Women" by women and gender activists.
  • A delegation of the Ghana Chapter of Women in Law and Development in Africa (WiLDAF), which included the CD of THP, met with Ghana's newly elected President to congratulate him on winning the election and to discuss critical issues affecting women. The President assured the delegation that he would empower the Ministry of Justice and the Attorney General's Department to review laws and practices that are inhumane and discriminate against women. He also reaffirmed his government's commitment to appointing 40% of women in his administration. The meeting with the President was reported by the print and electronic media including GTV and the Daily Graphic on February 5, 2009.
  • The Daily Graphic, published a feature article entitled "Combating Violence Against Women - The Role of The Hunger Project" in the March 10, 2009 edition. This article highlighted the campaigns organized by THP in the Matsekope and Kyempo Epicenters to mark the worldwide celebration of "16 Days of Activism on Violence Against Women" in December 2008.
  • On March 16, 2009 the Daily Graphic reported on a durbar organized by THP in the Kwaboadi Epicenter to mark the celebration of International Women's Day. At this durbar, the CD, Dr. Naana Agyemang-Mensah called for behavioral change, particularly among men, to end the culture of violence against women.
  • The CD held two important meetings with key government officials during the reporting period. The first one was with the Director General of the Ghana Health Service (GHS) on March 17, 2009. The objective was to brief the Director General on THP's Community Health Improvement Program. The second meeting was with the Minister of Local Government and Rural Development on March 24, 2009. The CD briefed the Minister on THP-Ghana's activities and their impact on people living in rural communities in Ghana. She highlighted partnership with local government as one of the key pillars of THP's work. The two government officials were impressed with THP's work and achievements in Ghana.

Recent Innovations

The fast growing number of epicenter buildings, especially in the Eastern Region, has resulted in an increased demand for health personnel, drugs and equipment, which has strained the local authority's capacity. Having realized the difficulty in getting the DHMTs to respond adequately to our needs, we have decided to extend our partnership with the GHS beyond the district level to the national level. It is in light of this that the CD met with the Director General of the GHS to brief him on THP's programs generally and the Health Improvement Program in particular with the view to seeking his assistance in staffing and equipping the epicenter clinics.

Impact Assessment

The main focus of the monitoring and evaluation (M&E) process during the period was to analyze the data generated by our trained village-based M&E animators. These trained animators had, in the earlier reporting period, collected a wide range of data through household surveys; conducted focus group discussions; held key informant interviews; and collected data from institutions like schools, clinics and the village-based TBAs. This generated a lot of data, and we began a manual process of analyzing the data. A simple software program was designed to facilitate data entry with the help of volunteers at the head office. The data entry process has been completed and the analysis has begun in order to arrive at conclusions that will be fed into the global M&E system/website.

The M&E officer plans to organize further training for the project officers, their assistants and secretaries to enter all data from the field in the data entry software so that the work at the M&E department at the head office will be expedited in the process of data entry, analysis and reporting. Data collection instruments have been revised and, in the coming quarter, arrangements will be made to give refresher training to all the animators to begin another round of major data collection.

In terms of building partnerships, the project officers are collaborating with personnel at the health institutions to regularly provide relevant health data as part of the data collection process. Reporting formats have been designed to enable the health personnel to provide relevant data.

Future Plans

The following objectives will be pursued in the next six months (April-September 2009):

  • The construction of eight "year three" epicenter buildings completed;
  • The construction of eight "year four" epicenter buildings initiated;
  • 14 epicenter clinics provided with health personnel, drugs and equipment;
  • Review workshops organized for TBAs (68), Agric TOTs (135), WEP animators (80) and HIV/AIDS animators (90);
  • VCAWs organized to train 23,000 people;
  • 9,500 people reached with HIV/AIDS education;
  • 10,300 people reached with WEP education; and
  • Refresher training organized for M&E animators and program staff on the M&E processes.