There are hundreds of agencies, non-governmental organisations, businesses, charities and government departments involved in development work in Ghana. All have the best intentions to do the right thing but there is a risk of duplication and some agencies are more effective than others. So how do we make sure that our work in Tolon fits into this complex pattern to tackle poverty in an impactful and efficient way?
Tzedek’s Country Director in Ghana makes connections and develops networks. Tzedek’s strategic approach in Tolon enables our Country Director to find out who is doing what and where. Our strategy highlights the areas in which we work; improving the quality of education in schools, leadership development of the emerging youth leaders and working in partnership to develop the livelihoods of the poorest and most disadvantaged. It also sets the geographic focus for our work.
Ghana is country of many tribes, languages and faiths. There is marked and increasing inequality in infrastructure, wealth and health between the north and south of Ghana. There has been more development and business growth in the south, leaving the northern regions behind. A recent United Nations report (2018) confirms that the income gap between north and south is widening . The north of Ghana is huge with three regions and dozens of districts. Tzedek’s development team strategically decided to focus our efforts into one geographical area in the north, to maximise the impact of our work. This is in line with the approach of the Sustainable Development Goals ensuring ‘no-one is left behind’.
The Tolon District in which we work is one of the poorest in Ghana, with some 40,000 people estimated to be living in extreme poverty. Educational attainment is consistently poor. Unemployment amongst young people is a big challenge. They have received enough education to know they do not want to live a subsistence life of farming like their parents, but with no new employment prospects available they rapidly become disenchanted with some turning to drugs and crime.
We are currently undertaking a systematic review of partner organisations working in the Tolon district in our areas of expertise, tackling the problems at a local level. This means many meetings with the District Assembly staff, reaching out to the big international NGOs like US AID, World Vision and Oxfam and making direct contact with dozens of small NGOs who are all trying to do the right thing. These connections can lead to future funding partnerships, some to information sharing and some to collaborations on future projects. The web of connections is complex and ever-changing. Several big projects in the Tolon District have recently finished, leaving a void – and an opportunity. Being small, we are agile, able to develop relationships that can rapidly lead to new partnerships and new projects. As a result of our approach, we have been able to form five new grant-funded partnership projects in the last twelve months. Our network and connectivity in the Tolon region is growing all the time.
1. United Nations Development Programme (2018). Northern Ghana Human Development Report 2018. Bridging the Poverty Gap and Fostering Socio-Economic Transformation and Empowerment to contribute to Human Development for All