|Organization Name:||Ghana Rural Integrated Development (GRID)|
|Project Name:||Ghana Youth Initiative: Growing a Future|
|Purpose of Investment:||To pilot a sustainable income-generating and savings program for adolescents in NW Ghana using fish hatcheries in community ponds and gardens for agricultural produce.|
Ghana Rural Integrated Development (GRID) has partnered with Northern Empowerment Association (NEA), a Ghanaian NGO, for 30 years to successfully alleviate poverty in 160 of Ghana’s poorest communities where they are the only active NGO.
GRID-NEA are currently in Year 2 of a 4-year MNCH project with funding from Global GAC. Although this project is dramatically reducing newborn mortality, we have observed that newborns born to adolescent mothers pose a risk to the mother and the baby. To understand this, their team conducted interviews with adolescents. Two themes emerged from these: (1) adolescents are participating in risky sexual behaviour to escape poverty; and (2) adolescents lack education about the lifelong consequences of these behaviours. In response, they have launched adolescent reproductive health education in local schools. But to have real impact, the issue of adolescent poverty must be addressed.
This project will develop and test an innovative income-generating and savings program for adolescents to provide for a high school education. They would construct and stock a 3-4 acre fish pond, capable of producing 3,000 lbs of fish annually, in each of 4 separate communities. Surrounding each pond, 30 test gardening plots of ¼ acre each would be allocated to 15 female and 15 male JSS students from the community.
The ponds would be constructed so that the nutrient-rich water from the ponds can be used for garden irrigation. Youth co-ops would be formed in each participating community to teach them gardening skills, provide seeds and tools, and provide training in saving money. Each participant would be able to grow their own dry season garden and sell produce locally.
This project builds on successful innovative initiatives which form part of GRID-NEA’s experience:
- An aquaculture program currently producing over 100,000 tilapia fingerlings annually.
- An agriculture program that has reached thousands of households.
- Pond-building technology, necessary heavy equipment, and experience in establishing sustainable basic community fish ponds.
- Positive relationships with community leaders and adolescents.
- A successful savings training program that has empowered pregnant women to save for safe child delivery.
- A number of successful GAC-funded projects and a reputation for excellence.
This program will be introduced to 4 communities simultaneously since each will present distinct challenges and opportunities. The organization plans to learn from this initiative, adapt as needed, and scale up to reach up to 160 of our communities as funding becomes available from other agencies with a published interest in supporting adolescent health and education. As with all of our programs this will be made self-sustaining for future participants in large part from income generated from sale of some of fish from the pond.
- An initial test cohort of 60 male and 60 female adolescents enrolled in Junior Secondary School (JSS) will earn GHS 1200 each year through crop sales from dry season gardens created around four specially designed community fish ponds which will facilitate the irrigation of these gardens.
- An initial cohort of 120 adolescents with the support of their families save 60% of the income earned from their gardens for the purpose of attending high school.
- A community-based model for adolescent income-generating is tested and proven, ready for scaling up to as many as 160 villages in which we currently operate. GRID-NEA are very experienced at scaling up programs. The 160 communities in which we are currently conducting a Global Affairs Canada (GAC) program were scaled up from an initial 50 phase 1 communities upon GAC review and audit.
- A number of other longer term measurables involving adolescent nutrition, health, and education are also of strategic importance and will be measured.