On top of our duties at Kapital Radio, our other obligations involved in this overseas university internship is to produce insightful media that creates awareness about complex development issues in Ghana and the efforts in place to address them.
Billions of foreign aid dollars are pumped into the “Gateway to Africa” annually with elaborate plans for growth in mind. The Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) is one of the main aid agencies working collectively with the government of Ghana and a variety of partners (the International Monetary Fund, intergovernmental organizations and non-governmental organizations) to fund sustainable development initiatives within the country. CIDA supports national priorities and programs in the areas of governance, health, basic education, private sector development and environmental sustainability that aim to tackle the global challenges set out in the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs): 1) eradicating extreme poverty and hunger, 2) achieving universal primary education, 3) promoting gender equality and empowering woman, 4) reducing child mortality 5) improving maternal health, 6) combating HIV/AIDS and other diseases, 7) ensuring environmental sustainability, and 8 ) developing a global partnership for development. The aim is to achieve these goals by 2015. In the networks of assistance, the actors are numerous, the projects are endless, and the numbers of people that they intend to reach are extensive. Whether it’s education, private sector development or governance, the priorities are all multifaceted and interrelated; their root causes and problems directly or inadvertently affect the others. In order to develop an economy and create new industries, infrastructure, support systems (i.e. social services and finances), regulatory bodies, education, training improvements and collaborations between sectors need to occur simultaneously. Well-orchestrated programs and collaborative efforts are then required for lasting positive societal changes.
When trying to make sense of the realities of development work in Ghana, I am left feeling somewhat overwhelmed. There are no clear-cut ways to deal with the issues and achieving the (somewhat overambitious) MDG goals by their target deadlines — a seemingly daunting task. Local professor and Head of the Economics Department at Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Appiah-Nkrumah, offers a practical suggestion, “You can’t look at eradicating poverty, you have to look at reducing [it].” Sustainable change doesn’t just happen easily and instantly. Development plans and efforts need realistic goals and deadlines, and the necessary strategies to achieve step-by-step results.
Since 2003, a pragmatic national growth and poverty reduction support program in Ghana has been put into effect and the government is working within its means (and networks) to improve the standards of life for Ghanaians. More efficient management and collaboration of different institutions, policies and their programs are coming together to provide necessities, capacities and opportunities for people to better their situations, for reducing regional disparities and social divides within the country, and while propelling the economy one step at a time.
I’ve spent the first three weeks examining policies and gaining a better perspective on the background and complexities of development issues and efforts. Now I am beginning to book interviews with the people involved and, more importantly, the people affected. From now on, the issues will hopefully start to make more sense. Just one day of observing the daily activities at a local primary school and interacting with the inspiring teachers and their aspiring students (and future doctors, teachers, nurses and the potential President of Ghana) has given me more cause and motivation for exploring the issues of removing barriers to achieving equal access to quality basic education in Ghana. Stay tuned for more personal connections, more depth into the issues in our upcoming blogs and articles.