Rural Poverty Alleviation and the Role of World Vision International and Ecumenical Opportunities Centre in the Ajumako-Enyan-Essiam District

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Poverty has been described as the most pressing human problem of the contemporary world that cries out for rapid solution. Ghana has been rated as one of the least developed countries and among the poorest forty-five countries of the world. Poverty in Ghana is, however, principally a rural problem with over 70% of its incidence accounted for by rural poverty. The Ajumako-Enyan-Essiam District, one of the twelve districts in the Central Region of Ghana lies within the rural mid-coastal region of the country identified as one of the most deprived, poverty — stricken areas of the country. Like most of the rural areas of the -country the economy of Ajumako-Enyan-Essiam District is agricultural with food crop production as the main activity of the people. However, population increase, reduction in farm size, poor soil fertility and adherence to traditional methods of production has adversely affected productivity and yields of crops in the district. The district is also deprived in terms of social services especially in health delivery system, the road network system, lack of electricity in especially the rural areas and poor housing facilities. The district has therefore attracted the attention of some nongovernmental organizations and two Christian NGOs - the World Vision International and the Ecumenical Opportunities Centre have established projects with the aim of helping reduce the incidence of poverty in the district. This study thus tried to assess the incidence of poverty, determine the projects and activities of the NGOs and their impact on poverty alleviation and recommend strategies to help ameliorate the poverty problem in especially the rural areas of the district. Data collected from both secondary and primary sources from five randomly selected rural communities in the district were analysed and some of the major findings were: .Incidence of poverty in the district is higher than the average national poverty level. Forty-nine percent (49%) of the rural inhabitants have incomes below the national poverty line with 21% below the absolute poverty line. • Distribution of incomes is skewed towards the rich with the upper quintile of households receiving over 60% while the lowest quintile enjoys only 2%. * Social infrastructure such as hospitals, good roads, electricity and school Buildings in some rural communities are lacking in the district. * The two religious NGOs operating in the district, that is, the World Vision International (WVI) and the Ecumenical Opportunities Centre (EOC) have provided some socio-economic facilities such as clinics, guest houses, renovation of school buildings, corn mills, gari processing mills and others. • Due to the impact of their projects and methods of operation the people of the project areas of the NGOs have developed credibility, confidence and trust in especially the WVI •Programmes aimed at poverty alleviation in the district should be holistic, involving all stakeholders — the central Government; the D.A. and its Depts; the NGOs and the people of the district themselves. • The government must provide socio-economic infrastructure-electricity, good roads, hospitals and others to facilitate production, processing and marketing as well as development of small-scale industries in the district. • The D.A. should provide scholarships and sponsorship for children whose parents are too poor to sponsor their education. • The D.A. must provide financial support or credit for small scale enterprises especially by co-operative societies. • The D.A must provide financial and material support to the EOC to enable the NGO train the youth of the district including school drop-outs and teenage mothers in employable vocational skills. • The District Department of Agricultural Extension should step up the transfer of improved production technology in conjunction with the NOOs in the district. • All stakeholders — the Government, the D.A. and the NOOs must help build up local capacity for management of local resources and infrastructure and • The NGOs must encourage the people to form community-based-organizations to enhance solution of local and individual socio-economic problems. The implementation of the recommendations contained in this study would help in the reduction of poverty in the Ajumao-Enyan-Essiam district as well as in other districts of the country.
A thesis submitted to the Board of Postgraduate Studies, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, in partial fulfilment of the requirement for the award of the Degree of Master of Science in National Development Policy and Planning, 1998