Young people constitute over 30% of Ghana’s population. The Upper East Region is the second poorest region in Ghana with about 70% of the population living on less than a dollar a day, but many living on less than $10 a month.
The region has one rainy season from May/June to September/October. The mean annual rainfall during this period is between 800 mm and 1100m. There is a long spell of dry season from October to mid May, characterized by cold, dry and dusty Harmattan winds until February, and then evolving into extreme heat between February and May.
About 90% of the population are peasant farmers and the crops mainly cultivated include peanuts, yam, millet and some vegetables. The most common economic trees are the sheanut, dawadawa, baobab and acacia. Farmers use primitive tools such as the hoe and cutlass to farm.
There are few prospects for youth so young people migrate a to the southern portion of the country to search for menial jobs such as bar tendering and waitressing (which are not lucrative as they can be in western nations), “kayayoos” (girls who carry heavy loads on their heads in markets) or as farm labourers on cocoa farms. Many girls and women also enter prostitution in the major cities.
- Create an environment that will provide constructive, affirmative, and supporting relationships that are sustained over time with successful adults and peers.
- Create opportunities that will enable youth to develop their skills and talents and get engage as partners in their own development and the development of their communities.
- Engage young people as partners, and not mere recipients of project handouts, to identify their needs and respond with solutions that meet their needs.
- Find opportunities for youth to participate in community building activities and workshops on a Ghana-wide level.
We have already begun to involve the youth groups in tree planting activities with great success. As tree planting expands, we intend to recruit workers from among the youth group to assist us as field workers to maintain the planted trees.
We also intend to involve the youth closely in new income generation programmes we have in development such as opening a shop in Bolgatanga and Cape Coast and also possibly opening a restaurant in future which will train unskilled youth in hospitality and help them find jobs in this field—a field which is growing in this region.
Ghana is not engaged in conflict on a nation-wide scale however there are pockets of violent conflicts across the country. These conflicts are mostly disputes over land or stool/skin titles. About 23 violent conflicts took place in the northern part of Ghana between1980 and October 2002. The consequence of these conflicts has been broken or fragile communities characterized by a sense of resentment, hatred, a culture of violence, and loss of lives and property.
The impacts of these conflicts have been most severe on the vulnerable groups such as women and the youth. Women and young people face distinct risks in these violent conflicts. They are more likely to become targets for sexual violence, need reproductive health care, contract sexually transmitted infections (STIs) including HIV, be forced to generate livelihood for themselves and others, and lose educational opportunities because of conflict.
Women are often involved in dealing with the practical challenges of these conflicts such as reorganizing families, tending to the wounded, providing safety nets for family members, and providing for the general up-keep of the family. Women also have different needs and desires from men in both conflict and peace times and these are affected by violent conflicts.
Women must be involved in conflict resolution and management, peace building and human rights promotion in order to establish a culture of peace and ensure sustainable development.
Foster a culture of peace and nonviolence, respect for human rights and dignity through education, psycho-social counseling for victims and perpetrators, and provision of income generating opportunities for women and young people.
- Peace education
- Awareness creation
- Conflict resolution/management and life skills training
- The promotion of reconciliation
- Advocacy for the involvement of women and youth in local and national peace building initiatives
We also believe that when families can put food on their tables they are less likely to engage in conflict within the home and outside the home which is why our income generation programme is vital to conflict prevention.
Meaningful connections between young people and caring adults are widely acknowledged to benefit youth. When young people have the opportunity to engage with successful adults that they look up to it gives them the desire to succeed and the confidence to keep trying, even when life becomes difficult.
Adult-youth engagement is a necessary component of any mentoring experience. Unfortunately there are few formal channels for youth and mentors alike to form such meaningful relationships in Ghana.
- Provide youth with an opportunity to learn personal development skills through focused interaction, such as workshops and one-on-one training, with outstanding community members leading accomplished lives.
- Career planning: Expose youth to a variety of fields which may expand their minds to the many life and career paths available in the 21st Century by explaining what they need to succeed in those fields and the educational paths to success.
- Provide youth with entrepreneurial mentors to enable them learn, grow and develop into successful entrepreneurs.
- Match youth with a mentor for an agreed period of time. We aim to identify potential mentors from among the immediate community, train those mentors in assisting the youth to identify their goals and help them with personal challenges.