Name of the project
With poor soils, erratic rainfall and one of the highest population densities, Ghanas Upper East Region is the countrys most impoverished area. In 1987, 97% of residents in the area lived below the poverty line; frequent droughts and high food insecurity forced many men to migrate south seeking work as seasonal labourers. One clear solution, to achieve greater food security and allow farmers to earn a living from their land during the dry season was to use low-lying lands as reservoirs by building dykes and dams.
Many water-capturing structures were built during the fifties and sixties in Ghana. However, despite rehabilitation works financed by the World Bank between 1977 and 1985, by 1989 most had again become inoperative due to lack of maintenance. Thus, from the onset, IFADs Upper-East Region Land Conservation and Smallholder Rehabilitation Project (1991-1997) was mainly concerned with mobilizing communities to sustain the results of rehabilitation and to actually manage the use of water in the long term.
Consulting with area residents and traditional community leaders, the project identified the sites to be rehabilitated as well as the future beneficiaries to take part in the work and assume responsibility for their maintenance in the future. As work progressed, water user associations were created (and whenever possible, built around informal structures already in place) at each dam site to take over all aspects of project management in the long term.
Today they meet regularly to decide on water distribution within the irrigated areas, what work needs to be done on structures, canals and surrounding replanted areas and to assign tasks among members. They draw up by-laws that are submitted to the district assemblies and they collect water levies for future repairs. Through the associations, members receive training in technical and organizational skills.
By improving water resources and their use, IFADs project allowed farmers to remain and invest in the land, increasing local food security and reversing the cycle of neglect and land degradation that was ensuing.
The evaluation concluded that a number of project activities building on traditional mechanisms, community-based livestock services, and formation of water user groups have good replicability potential.
This project was closed at the end of 1997. A second phase has been approved for implementation. It is seeking to increase and sustain the farm incomes of poor rural families through irrigation, improved technology and income generating activities. It will also develop social infrastructure with a view to improve their living conditions and environment.
IN THE WORDS OF OUR CLIENTS
The interviews were conducted in November 1999, by the BBC World Service, the Vatican Radio and the Italian television RAI.
Nineteen years old Adelaide Attekora, is a woman who characterises the new generation of Ghanaian entrepreneurs: determined, self-assured and female. She took a loan from IFAD and since going into business with traditional hand dyed fabric, her brightly coloured batik has become a huge success. ''I want to expand the business so that in future when Ill get married, my family will be happy,'' she says during her very first meeting with a group of international journalists in the remote upland areas of Kumasi, a few hours north of Accra. ''The loan provided by the project in 1988, has helped me a lot. I was even trained in how to manage my business. I am very happy with this change. Because I now have my own independence.'' Adelaide was a seamstress until the time she got her first loan. She dyes the material and uses the same to make clothes. In fact she now employs two young women and is hoping to open a better workshop.
''Women are a major vehicle of change for development in Ghana. You help one woman to walk out of poverty, you have helped a whole family'' says Franciska Issaka, a gender consultant serving development projects in Ghana. Asked whether women wanted change, she says: ''Ghanaian women are very proud. They just want opportunities and not to be discriminated against. Even at the lowest level, in rural areas, they want equal opportunities so that they can earn their own living. Turning a blind eye to women in development projects means reducing the countrys potentials for growth by 50 percent. Without the Ghanaian womens contribution nor the family neither the economy can move.''Akwesi Amperatwum lives in Techiman. He ran a one-man welding business until he got a small loan from an IFAD sponsored rural bank in Kufi Assi near Kumasi. ''I was a shoe shiner, working single-handedly nearby Kumasis main train station, until I learned about IFAD.'' He received his first loan after attending a training programme in shoemaking and learning basics of business management in Accra. ''That loan enabled me to purchase welding equipment and develop my business.'' He now employs and trains, about 15 workers, some of whom have started their own businesses in nearby towns.
Developing a local infrastructure capable of supporting agricultural activities is another thrust of the IFAD financed project. Frances Divine Asari is head of the Techiman technology centre - a workshop and training unit at nearby Techiman. The workshop also makes oil presses and other small agricultural items which at the same time training local boys and girls in the skills needed to make and maintain the hardware.
''In Ghana rural poverty is almost synonymous with small food crop famine,'' says Dr. Samuel Dapaah, Chief Director of Ghanas Agriculture Ministry. IFAD is addressing the issue through provision of funds for crop diversification. In Asaam for instance, a group of women got a loan to produce shallot onions. Asaam is a small village; homes are made from sticks and baked earth, alongside the road that leads to the nearest traditional commercial hub, some 40 kilometres away. The town looks like a traditional village. There is however a subtle difference here. The crop is new. The shallots are part of the initiative to diversify from Ghanas traditional crops in a bid to find better profits. Emma Erudu is the project officer responsible. Like the rest of the staff running the IFAD scheme on a day to day basis, shes from the area and knows the people and their problems. The shallot group, she says, demonstrates the success of IFADs work.