ADANU Ghana – empowerment of communities in Ghana

By Denise Nanni and Milena Rampoldi, ProMosaik. In the following our interview ADANU in Ghana where we talked to Betsy Benoit. She told us: What we do at Adanu is build beyond schools. We use schools as a platform to train entire communities about collaboration, empowerment and creating their own bright future. We would like to thank her for her detailed answers and the photos she sent us.



What are the main problems rural communities face in Ghana?
Inadequate access to quality education
*   Rural schools lack basic infrastructure for teaching and learning. They generally have Primary Classes 1-6, with addition Kindergarten in 2004. Students might travel up to 8 kilometers to the closest Junior High Schools, and most Senior High Schools require children to board there as SHS are few and far between.
*   Students and teachers struggle to get basic curriculum needs, such as textbooks, pencils, chalk and notebooks. Items the curriculum call for in areas such as Science and Creative Arts are rare. For computer learning, teachers usually have to draw the computer components on chalkboards to explain what a computer, mouse and monitor look like.
*   Accommodations for the teachers is also a major problem.  Oftentimes there is no clean water or electricity, and the hut is very basic. Due to the rough conditions, many teachers don’t accept a posting/transfer to rural villages.
Inadequate access to quality health care information
*Most villages don’t have health clinics. To access healthcare people often must travel many kilometers by foot. This is very difficult for someone who is ill, often leading people to rely on local remedies or nothing at all.  
*The distance to the closest health care facility is so far that oftentimes a woman going into labor cannot get there in time for the delivery.
Lack of clean water
*   Most rural communities don’t have access to portable drinking water, leading to illnesses, dehydration, and death.
*   Water sources such as rivers and ponds are usually contaminated because they are also used by cattle, goats and other animals.
*   Clean water sources might exist many kilometers from the village, and water collection becomes a chore taking an entire day. In a village we recently visited, a plea was made by several women to free them of the 6 kilometer walk every day to fetch clean water.  It took time away from their families and other chores, making any hope of a bright future dim.
Lack of alternate source of livelihood besides subsistence seasonal farming
*   Most rural communities’ main occupation is farming. During the dry season farming is very tenuous, adversely affecting their income as well as their own food supply.
*   Other than farming, there are no skills or training in other areas for the youth and women, leading to a pervading sense that nothing will ever change, because it never has.
Inadequate access to government policies and programs
*   Most rural community members don’t feel they have the voice to speak up for themselves.
*   Rural areas are known as ‘underserved’. The government doesn’t often make an appearance at smaller sized villages, and in turn the community doesn’t know who to go to or how to ask for help.  Towns and large groups of villages that are fortunate to have the ear of a local government official are much more likely to benefit from government programs, as they know what the programs are, and who to ask to gain access to them.
Inadequate access to sanitation and environmental issues
*   In the Volta Region, toilet facilities are known as a “Place of Convenience”.  Not many exist where Adanu works, meaning that ‘open defecation’ is quite common. If toilets do exist, they are usually communal pit toilets. These types of toilets are smelly, attract flies, and have to be moved regularly.  This leads to filling over untreated human waste, only to repeat the process in 1-5 years.
*   Due to lack of available water and cost, water flushing toilets (Western style) are inappropriate. 

In what does the unique approach of Adanu community development consist of?
Adanu selects communities based on their level of need and willingness to contribute a significant portion of time, labor and materials to the project. Adanu specifically targets communities that have been neglected by the government.
A key component of The Adanu Model is each community must show commitment to their development by contributing materials and labor to the project. In situations where the community cannot provide resources, Adanu will, together with the community, appeal for support from the other government stakeholders.
Community-led working committees are formed, and resources are committed to the project. Community members and leaders drive the project to completion.
o   Adanu engages the community by meeting key stakeholders (Chief and Elders, Teachers, assembly person) to solicit their views and ensure they agree on the project and The Adanu Model before the project is implemented.
o   The Adanu Model starts with a small project (school urinal or water tank) to determine the true level of the community’s commitment and enthusiasm.  The project takes 3-5 days, allowing for Adanu and the stakeholders to measure their ability to complete a project as envisioned.
Adanu supervises critical stages of the project, whether small or large, and checks in regularly with working committees to keep the community accountable and on track. Volunteers, both local and international, engage with the community at different stages of the project to develop relationships, provide encouragement and support projects.
The Adanu Model empowers communities because they contribute their own resources, both material and human. It is an educational and collaborative process, leading to growth and development of the community.
Adanu’s human-centered concept ensures our projects are sustainable. After selecting communities, we actively engage with them by involving them in all stages of the project. This engagement is not just with the leadership, but the with entire community.
The participation process helps create ownership of the project, and community members feel recognized and valued as their suggestions are acknowledged and adopted. It also helps them better understand the importance of the project, empowering them to give their very best.
Which programs do you carry on?
Adanu focuses on both formal (school) and informal (scheduled and unscheduled interactions to create awareness on importance of education, why and how they should contribute to projects) education of the community.  Adanu stresses that government alone cannot give them or their children everything they want, so the community needs to step in and accomplish whatever they can to supplement what the government does. Adanu strongly encourages a vibrant and proactive Parent Teacher Association (PTA), teaches handwashing and importance of using clean water, build urinals on school grounds for students and teachers, build schools (Kindergarten and Primary 1-6, also JHS and SHS), clean water projects (rain water collection using gutters on new schools), libraries and computer labs, and women-focused enterprise. 
Adanu’s programs, along with community collaboration, empower all to understand the importance of education for the individual, the community, and for Ghana itself.
Students attending our jointly-built schools are apt to attend school longer. After 15 years, we have many examples of how we have helped shift of ideas about school and what it can offer; kids who were ready to quit school are coming back from college and thanking Adanu for encouraging them. They see how Adanu helped their communities build strong education structures and values.  
Adanu builds beyond schools – we also build libraries and computer labs. Besides promoting reading and writing for young and old alike, students can confidently compete with students in the cities, testing well for spots in high schools and colleges. 
Do you address any specific action to women’s rights and empowerment?
Adanu focuses special attention on girls to be in school (scholarships, pads for menstrual cycles, personal hygiene education and family planning to prevent teenage pregnancy)
We create opportunities for social enterprise to empower women in the community. The goal is to help them create better lives for themselves and enhance their ability to care for their children and families (Batik making, Bead making, sewing, Tie & Dye making)
Adanu works with the community so women’s voices are heard during meetings and community events. Adanu ensures women are given decision-making opportunities. When Adanu works with a community we make sure women are fully represented in all the groups formed that supervise our projects. We have women leaders mobilizing other women for activities such as cooking lunch for students and literacy classes. 
Do you cooperate with local authorities and institutions? If yes, how?
We consult, cooperate and coordinate with the relevant local authorities and institutions. These include Assemblymen/women in the community, Members of Parliament, District, Municipal and Metropolitan Assemblies, Ministries, Departments and Agencies. Together with the community Adanu identifies, engages and implements projects based on challenges and sustainable solutions identified.
Because we make sure all stakeholders are fully represented and engaged in each project, the project is much more likely to be successful. For example, when we build a school we will reach out to the Ministry of Education, Ghana Education Service, the office of Member of Parliament, the District Assembly and other relevant institutions. Each of these institutions have special roles to play – the Member of Parliament together with the District Assembly help provide building materials like sand and crushed rocks, while the Ministry of Education and Ghana Education service provide trained teachers once a school is completed.
March 22 marks Adanu’s 15th Anniversary as a registered nonprofit organization in Ghana.  We have a book coming out in the Fall that we hope will give others insight into our successes and challenges, and how Adanu embraces human-centered, sustainable development.
Adanu is also launching our Adanu app, letting people see progress in each village, updates on social media, secure and fast donation platform. Available FREE in both Android and iOS stores.
   QR code for all stores