Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Women Sustain Families in Upper West Region of Ghana

By Douglas Baba, 1st year MDP student
The International Field Placement of the Master’s in Development Practice Programme in Indigenous Development took the three of us: Douglas, Megan and Reuben to the Upper West region of Ghana. The Upper West region which was created in 1983 from the Upper East is the youngest in Ghana. Most of the people belong to a tribe called Waala, who are predominantly Muslims and well-known for their hospitality and their locally brewed beer called pito.  Pito is made by the Waala women through laborious processes. The men are usually seen sitting under shady trees in Wa Municipality sipping their mild or alcoholic pito. This activity by the women groups forms part of a major economic livelihood support for many families in Wa Municipality and its environs. 

Dry season pepper harvest
Shea nuts processing into Shea Butter which is a seasonal economic activity is also mainly done by women in a traditional way. The fruits containing the nuts are picked from the bush and then dried for some days before they are boiled. They are further dried before they are manually cracked to remove the nuts from the shell. The nuts are then sent to the corn mail for grinding and then finally boiled to remove the Shea butter from the mixture. Women are also at the forefront of dry season farming using water from the dams or dug outs in all the dams dug outs communities we visited. They grow especially vegetables such as pepper, okra, garden eggs, and tomatoes.

The women in Wa Municipality work hard to get their families running economically. A trip to one of the villages in the Wa Municipality called Leggou where there is ongoing dam rehabilitation sponsored by the World Bank and under the supervision of Ghana Irrigation Development Authority. The project is called work for money programme where all those who participate get six cedis a day. Sometimes in some communities they do what is known as work for food where participants are given two meals a day. In all these programmes operating in the communities we visited women were at the forefront doing all kinds work relating to dam construction.

We spent close to three hours n Leggou and only women were spotted working at the site. When asked about the men the answer was that they came there early in the morning and they had all left by the time we got there around 10:00am. Some of the women were scooping the sand from the ground; others were shoveling while the rest were carrying the sand to the places where the embankments were being raised. The most amazing thing was seeing women in their 60s, 70s and even 80s manually doing the hardening of the embankments by patting with sticks while at the same time singing patriotic songs rhythmically to keep them working.

The women were doing all this hard work under scorching sun and teeming heat and some of them with their babies either tied at their backs or placed under trees with all the risks involved including snake or scorpion bites while working in order to get six Ghanian Cedis a day to feed their families. It is therefore very sad and worrying that despite all this hard work to keep their families running, most development agencies fail to either consider or include women in their poverty reduction strategies.  Women should therefore be given key roles to play in rural communities by development agencies if extreme poverty is to be eradicated among indigenous communities.

Baraka (Thank you)

No comments:

Post a Comment