Residents in Mframafaw, Ashanti Region, Ghana, say they have transformed their farming town following participation in a Cash for Work initiative. Community members earned a daily wage for building a culvert, or small bridge, that ensures the road to their community remains passable year-round. With the local market once more within reach, some residents have invested their wages in their farms, purchasing cattle or hiring threshing machines and tillers in a bid to boost incomes further.
With Mframafaw once again linked to the rest of the district, the community is opening up to economic opportunities that were non-existent only a few months back. For the first time anyone can remember, residents are able to hire and transport a corn thresher into the town to de-husk their locally grown corn. The thresher de-husked the community’s total corn harvest in 30 minutes – a process that was previously done by hand and took over two weeks to achieve.
“Thanks to the bridge economic activities in Mframafaw are at the highest they have ever been in the town’s history. We’re able to earn more from our labour since we can now farm on a larger scale. Thanks to the culvert, it’s possible to hire tractors [for] our farms to assist with the weeding and harvesting of crops,” said Ahmed Issah, a resident, farmer and Cash for Work participant who has lived in the town his entire life.
“Previously we had to farm only what we could physically carry as it was impossible for trucks to access the farms to pick up the crops,” he said. “Whatever excess crops we had would be left to rot.”
The Cash for Work initiative is part of the Boosting Green Employment and Enterprise Opportunities in Ghana project, or GrEEn Project, a four-year action from the European Union, the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Ghana, SNV Netherlands Development Organisation and the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) that is funded by the European Union Emergency Trust Fund (EUTF) for Africa, SNV and UNCDF. GrEEn aims at creating greater economic and employment opportunities for youth, women and returning migrants by promoting and supporting sustainable, green businesses in the Ashanti and Western Regions of Ghana.
The GrEEn Project applies the Local Climate Adaptive Living (LoCAL) mechanism to channel finance to local governments for locally led adaptation to climate change. Using LoCAL, local authorities receive performance-based climate resilience grants through the country’s own intergovernmental fiscal transfer system. Adaptation investments are identified following community consultations and planning, overseen and supported with technical assistance for the UN Capital Development Fund.
The harsh realities of climate change are being felt all over Ghana and for rural communities like Mframafaw that have limited resources to dealing with the impact, the effects are devastating. Mframafaw, in the Offinso North District of Ghana’s Ashanti Region had been bearing the brunt of the effects of climate change for years. Economic activities in the town had all but died due to periodic and sudden flooding, which made the unsealed road linking the community impassable, making it impossible for farmers to send their produce to market.
Before the construction of the culvert began, another resident of Mframafaw Ms Sulemana some months ago, described the state residents found themselves in as dire.
“The situation has gotten so bad that we leave the fruits to rot in the farms since we do not see any point in harvesting them when we know there’s no way to get them to market” said Ms Sulemana, speaking before the construction of the culvert. “In the past I used to make enough money from my farm and was even able to save but now I barely earn enough to feed my family.”
Cash for Work is proving to be an effective means of tackling the impacts of climate change while also addressing some of the underlying limitations of rural communities in Ghana
Six months down the line and thanks to the intervention of the GrEEn project, the situation of residents of Mframafaw has significantly improved. As part of the implementation of the GrEEn project, Mframafaw community was selected in one of the four districts in the Ashanti Region and received two projects, a climate resilient culvert and a borehole. Locally based NGO, SOS Children’s Village, provided skills training to community members to help them have the confidence and skills to grow small businesses and seek out economic opportunities, operating in Ashanti Region and GrEEn’s other project sites in Western Region.
“From SOS I have learnt how to become a better entrepreneur through trainings on topics such as how to identify business opportunities in my town, how to maintain proper bookkeeping, how to raise capital to invest in my business, how to be disciplined as an entrepreneur, how to be accountable to myself among others,” said Steven Kwesi Amisah, one of the GrEEn Project Community Facilitators in Ahanta West Municipal in Ghana’s Western Region.
“We also received practical training on climate change and how to operate a green and sustainable business operation. For instance, because of the lessons we received on recycling, some of the women in the community are now into the business of collecting plastic waste and selling them to recycling operators,” he added.
As well as the skills training, residents were also invited to help identify the adaptation investments their community needs through a community consultation process. Once priorities were identified, residents were offered the chance to sign up to a Cash for Work scheme and receive a daily wage to work as labourers on the construction project – in this case a culvert.
Mr Issah earned the equivalent of US $2 per day – a competitive daily wage for unskilled work – and has added his earning to existing savings to start a cattle farm.
“I saved the money I earned and bought a cow to start a farm. Other residents in the town also invested their funds into their farms to purchase seeds and fertilizers to improve yields. Others used the wage they earned from the Cash for Work programme to hire tractors for the weeding of their farms and threshers to de-husk their corn,” he said.
“Since we now have easier access to the market, we’re able to store our crops during bumper harvests and sell them at better prices during the lean season,” said Mr Issah, who also worked as one of the labourers on the culvert construction. “We no longer have to sell at whatever price buyers dictate.”
As significant as the impact of the culvert has been the investment in a nearby borehole, designed to provide access to clean drinking water year-round. Residents of Addaikrom, another small community a few kilometres from Mframafaw, now have access to potable water for the first time. Previously they had to fetch water from a stream which was also used to water animals or travel a distance to Mframafaw. According to Dorcas Abugri, a resident of Addaikrom community who requested for the construction of the borehole at community consultations, her day-to-day life has improved significantly.
“It was always a struggle getting clean water to drink and cook as our only source of water was the stream. The stream was regularly polluted by animals, and we had no option but to use the same water. I also had to rely on my children to get me water due to the distance from my house to the stream but with the borehole so close to my house, I am self-sufficient and able to achieve more during the day,” said Ms Abugri.
Recruitments for Cash for Work teams are currently ongoing in Western and Ashanti Regions of Ghana, with more people applying to take part than the projects can accommodate. With a further round of recruitments planned for later in the year, it’s hoped that everyone that is interested in contributing to the resilience of their community while earning a daily wage, will have the opportunity.
“Cash for Work is proving to be an effective means of tackling the impacts of climate change while also addressing some of the underlying limitations of rural communities in Ghana – namely lack of jobs and access to funds coupled with the local authorities’ limited resources for investment in climate-proof infrastructure,” said Angela Yayra Kwashie, Technical Specialist (Local Government Finance) UNCDF in Ghana. “I strongly urge others to look at this whole of society approach when planning adaptation interventions.”
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF).