By: Helena Selby
There have never been many professions and careers like the world has today. Inventions and research by geniuses and intellectuals to help develop the world is more visible in this 21st Century than ever.
Despite these inventions, professions and careers development, there has never been satisfaction in the standard of living of the people of this world, due to rapid population growth, which tends to exceed the existing job opportunities in the world.
The frequent increase in goods and services, coupled with lack of employment opportunities, has intensified the rate of poverty in every part of the world, especially, those in the rural communities.
In Ghana, about 51% of Ghana’s poor population can mostly be found in the rural areas, so far, the poorest regions in the country are the Upper West, Upper East and Northern regions. However, there are other existing poor communities in the Volta Region, where about 85% of the population are below the poverty line.
Tafi Mador is one of the communities which can be found in the Volta Region of Ghana. Gone were the days when the people of this community solely depended on agriculture for their survival.
Poverty in Tafi Mador
Tafi Mador is situated along the main Hohoe-Golokwati road, and falls under the Hohoe District of the Volta Region, with a population of about 1,500.
Although Tafi Mador is blessed with rich vegetation and soil, it has not seen much development, in terms of infrastructure. This is because about 85% of the population are very poor, and depend on subsistence farming for their livelihoods. They cannot farm large acres of land, and therefore, do not earn much from the agriculture produce they sell.
Tafi Mador is one of the four Tafi communities that make up the Tafi Traditional area. These are, Tafi Atome, Tafi Agome and Tafi Abuife. Many of the people in the Tafi Mador community, as a result of the poverty level, live on less than GH¢1 a day, their level of poverty might make way for the vicious cycle of poverty to reign in the region, if care is not taken.
Project in the district
As part of the social responsibility of the Southern Sector Youth and Women’s Empowerment Network (SOSYWEN), supported by Friends of the Earth (FoE), and funded by the Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA), the organisation undertook a project which will help in the living conditions of the people. The project was initiated to enable the people have a proper educational environment, proper learning ability, and kinds of vocations for their social and economic lives.
This initiative is to motivate their wards to attend school, make the people more abreast with what is happening, in terms of health aspects, and moreover help them attain activities which would help improve their living conditions. Some of the major activities under the project involved the construction of a three-classroom pre-school facility, organising HIV/AIDS awareness raising campaigns, as well as awareness creation in the communities on the sustainable use of forest resources.
It was during the course of the project that the Primary School building serving the community collapsed after a heavy rainstorm, leading to an appeal being made by the chief and elders for help to construct a new school block. Fortunately, a proposal for such a project, presented by FoE – Ghana to the Polish-Canadian Development Cooperation, was accepted for funding.
When the people realised that the project was meant for their own good, they did not hesitate to help with the little they had. They were aware that the initiative of SOSYWEN and its supporters would increase their standard of living for the better, presently, and in the future. Knowing this, in Tafi Mador, the youth provided voluntary labour at the construction site for the Primary School block.
The women and girls fetch water, while the men and boys carry cement blocks, sand, and stones. The construction of one of the classrooms was one of the things the people really expressed gratitude for, as previously, the nature of the school building was no encouragement or motivation in the academic performance of the pupils, and their urge to attend school.
Apart from the construction of the classrooms, the project, as well, involved the training of 100 unemployed women and youth in textile design, namely batik and tie-dye making; training for 80 youth in peer education on HIV/AIDS, as well as awareness raising campaigns and durbars for the Tafi communities on the HIV/AIDS pandemic.
After two weeks of the project, the organisation was able to train 50 unemployed women and youth in Vakpo Todzi in batik – tie and dye. Moreover, 50 unemployed women and youth in Tafi Mador were also given the opportunity to undertake the tie and dye course.
The organisation by further helping those who had completed their course in the in batik tie and dye, made preparations to provide initial raw materials for the trainees, as a way of supporting them start production on their own.
This, according to the organisation, would help them not to solely depend on agriculture for their daily incomes, but other alternatives such as what they had learnt to improve their standard of living.
Even though the activities of SOSYWEN are not enough to help save the whole district from poverty, its efforts would go a long way in helping the lucky beneficiaries, which might lead to the prevention of the vicious cycle of poverty in the district.
It is up to the individuals of the district to work hard and put the amenities and knowledge acquired into good use, to raise their standard of living. It is also up to the government to make the progress of the economy, not only to appear on paper, but in the economic lives of the people.
According to statistics, the Ghanaian economy has grown at an average annual rate of 4.5 per cent over the past two decades. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth was 6.3 per cent in 2007.
The agriculture sector, which contributed 34 per cent of GDP in 2007, remains the country’s major engine of economic growth.
The benefits of economic progress are dramatically evident in the fact that national poverty rates have been cut almost in half, from approximately 51.7 per cent in 1991-1992, to 28.5 per cent in 2005-2006.
Poverty decreased by about 17 percentage points in urban areas, and by 24 points in the rural areas. Ghana’s growth and poverty reduction rates are probably the best achieved in all of sub-Saharan Africa over the past 15 years.
Pix: The school building after it was hit by a storm during its construction. (inset) Some of the youth in the process of learning how batik-tie and dye vocation