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My First Day In Ghana

Blog by Sarah Blizzard, Development Writer, CARE

After several days of traveling to and within Ghana, I finally reached the community of Yaroyiri in the Northern Region of the country. To get to this community, I took three flights and a several-hour drive. The community of Yaroyiri is extremely rural and most people make their livelihood through subsistence farming.

At first, this community seems very typical of a rural African village – women with beautiful children carried on their backs, strong men, older children running around with bare feet, grandparents, friends, mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers – but after talking to the members of the Climate Adaptation Committee for just a few minutes, I realized what makes this community different: CARE.

As the population in this region of Ghana has increased, crop production, which is the main source of income for the people living here, has not increased to keep up with the population. As the leader of the Climate Adaption Committee, Clement Kofichira explained to me, “Before CARE, we used to not worry about the consequences of farming actions or cultural agriculture practices and we did not work together as a community.’

Today, the members of the committee have gained education and resources to help change things around. The committee”s seven women and six men have learned about the process of conservation agriculture and are supporting each other and their community to increase crop yields. Conservation agriculture practices include minimum soil tillage, ending the process of field burning, rotating crops and planting trees, which all help decrease erosion and increase natural fertilizers in the soil that results in healthier plants and larger crop yields. Changing long-held farming practices has not been easy, but is paying off! The group is creating economic opportunities for themselves and their community, and they are able to better feed their families and afford to send their children to school.

The Climate Adaptation Committee is not only proud of improving their agriculture techniques, but also of their achievements working together as a committee. Women have long been excluded from farming decisions, but groups like this one are empowering women and men to work together to make good decisions for the entire families and communities. As Clement explained to me, “Now my wife does not hide issues, she openly discusses problems and we solve them as a team.’ It was really wonderful to see first-hand how CARE”s conservation agriculture work is really making a difference.

In Yaroyiri, I also had the privilege of meetings members of two village savings and loan groups, of which several members are also involved in the Climate Adaption Committee. The first group has 16 women and 2 men as members, while the second group is made up for 21 women. When CARE staff approached the women about joining the group, they were excited to learn, share and support each other.

Each woman contributes one Ghana Cedi per week (about 65 cents). This may not sound like a lot of money, but the women only make around 2 Cedis per week during the harvest season and have no income during the dry or “hungry’ season that lasts about four months out of the year.

Talking with these women, I experienced their strength and willingness to improve their livelihoods and prospects for their children. The village savings and loan group lets women take out loans so that they can improve their income during the “hungry season.’ The loans are used to start small businesses growing and processing shea butter and local spices, which the women sell in the market. At the end of my visit, the women performed an energetic song and dance to show their thankfulness for CARE”s work. They also expressed their willingness to continue to diversify their livelihoods, especially for those members who do not own land. The women asked me to pass along a message to CARE”s supporters: “We are very happy and grateful for CARE and hope that you will continue your efforts to support our village savings and loan group.’

Annan is a member of the Climate Adaptation Committee, along with her husband Babayagidea. Through CARE's support they have increased their crop yields and their income. Now they are able to provide food for their children during Ghana”s hungry season and send them to school.(© Sarah Blizzard/CARE)

Posted by webmaster on Jul 10, 2009 4:11 PM US/Eastern

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