On April 18, 2024, CIWED Ghana hosted an orientation for community health volunteers focused on GAVI PSR 2 immunization services. The aim was clear: to empower volunteers in mobilizing communities and utilizing community registers to gather data on caregivers and children. Their mission? To ensure caregivers and children receive immunization services and to assist CIWED in organizing immunization campaigns and education at markets and lorry stations. Throughout the sessions, volunteers were introduced to the community register for immunization and trained on its effective administration and utilization.

On April 18, 2024, CIWED Ghana hosted an orientation for community health volunteers focused on GAVI PSR 2 immunization services. The aim was clear: to empower volunteers in mobilizing communities and utilizing community registers to gather data on caregivers and children. Their mission? To ensure caregivers and children receive immunization services and to assist CIWED in organizing immunization campaigns and education at markets and lorry stations. Throughout the sessions, volunteers were introduced to the community register for immunization and trained on its effective administration and utilization.

On 26th March, 2024, CIWED Ghana initiated the execution of the GAVI-Program Support Rationale (PSR) for CSOs Cash Based Support Project (Year 2). Commencing with a community entry procedure, the project engaged in dialogue with the health directorate to fortify collaborative efforts and strategically identify target communities for project intervention.

The community entry process was successfully conducted, although the absence of the district health director delayed certain crucial decisions. The officer leading the initiative preferred to wait for the director’s input before finalizing the selection of five communities or health facilities where CIWED Ghana planned to implement the program. Unfortunately, due to multiple postponements, the meeting was rescheduled twice, ultimately pushing it to the first week of April and causing delays in starting program activities. Once the district health director was available, a meeting took place with the health director of Nanton and the district diseases control office. Together, we finalized the selection of communities and facilities for the program.

On the 26th February, 2024, at Zoagu, a community in Nanton District, CIWED GH held a durbar of youth, and women to educate and empower them on positive gender norms, roles, and responsibilities concerning their Sexual, Reproductive, Maternal, Newborn, Child, and Adolescent Health and Nutrition (SRMNCAH+N). The durbar was organised in collaboration with the district directorate of the Ghana Health Service. Facilitating the sessions on positive gender norms, the research fellow of CIWED Ghana Mr. Issah Aminu Danaa put more emphases on equality, respect, and empowerment. He also tailored his discussions on the need to stop harmful stereotypes and promote healthy behaviors related to SRMNCAH+N especially SRHR related issues. The engagement witnessed encouraging and active participation, where youth shared experiences and perspectives on gender dynamics in their communities. They shared their view that, role-playing fostered understanding of respectful communication, consent, and shared decision-making.  The representative of the community health facility in Zoau, also made oral presentation touching on family planning, maternal health, and gender-based violence prevention. Participants were equipped with practical resources to promote informed decision-making and healthy practices. During an open forum session, participants were encouraged dialogue between youth, community leaders, and health experts to address concerns and identify solutions. Stakeholders collaborated to devise strategies for promoting positive gender norms and advancing SRMNCAH+N outcomes.

The event increased awareness and understanding among over 200 youth regarding positive gender norms and their relevance to SRMNCAH+N. They were also empowered to challenge stereotypes and advocate for gender equality within their communities. The community were also strengthened towards improving SRMNCAH+N outcomes. Knowledge and capacity was enhanced among youth to make informed decisions regarding their sexual and reproductive health.

In conclusion, the youth-focused durbar organized by CIWED GH served as a pivotal platform for promoting positive gender norms and empowering youth to champion SRMNCAH+N in Nanton Districts. By fostering dialogue, collaboration, and education, the event contributed to building a more equitable and healthy future for communities.

CIWED GHANA on the 23rd January, 2024 organized and hosted regional-level capacity learning and sharing sessions aimed at empowering Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) with the capacity to use Net Mapping as a social accountability tool. The initiative was also designed to enhance the capabilities of CSOs in leveraging this innovative method for better community engagement and advocacy. As part of our PAI project activities, a regional level capacity learning and sharing session brought together over fifty (50) participants from Ghana Health Service, District Assemblies, Department of Social Welfare and Community Development, Youth Leaders, Community Leaders, Media and Sister CSOs in the two implementing districts. The stakeholders expressed their sincere gratitude for the work CIWED is doing and made commitments to support the utilization of the tool when develop.

Explaining to participants, gender equality and social inclusion manager of CIWED-GHANA Miss Bashiru Mardia in her presentation mention indicated that, the primary goal of the sessions was to equip CSOs with the knowledge and skills necessary to utilize Net Mapping as a strategic social accountability tool. Net Mapping, a visual representation of relationships and connections, provides a unique approach for CSOs to analyze power dynamics, identify stakeholders, and map community assets and challenges. Participants were introduced to the core principles and techniques of Net Mapping, emphasizing its applicability in social accountability initiatives.

The sessions served as a platform for CSOs to establish connections, fostering potential collaborationsand partnerships for future initiatives. Some partners called for documentation of the net-mapping procedures to further engagements. Fortunately this is part of the activities of the PAI funded initiative.  

The regional capacity learning and sharing sessions on Net Mapping represent a significant milestone in CIWED GHANA’s commitment to empowering CSOs. The organization remains dedicated to fostering a culture of continuous learning and collaboration, recognizing the transformative potential of innovative tools like Net Mapping in advancing social accountability efforts across the region.

In commemoration of the 16 days of activism against Gender-Based Violence in Digu community, the CIWED-Ghana team, led by Executive Director Mr. Baako Abdul-Fatawu and Gender and Child Protection Manager Miss Bashiru Mardia, engaged with the VSLA women group of the community in an important conversation. This event, held on December 5th 2023, aimed to shed light on gender-sensitive issues and emphasize the significance of economic independence and self-reliance as potent tools in reducing or preventing Gender-Based Violence (GBV).

The session commenced with opening remarks by Mr. Iddris Amba, followed by an insightful speech from Mr. Baako Abdul-Fatawu stressing the crucial need to prevent GBV and all forms of violence against women. He highlighted the impact of previous economic empowerment projects within the community and across the district, emphasizing their role in countering and preventing violence against women. Acknowledging the ongoing pandemic, he urged adherence to COVID-19 safety protocols, underlining the importance of these precautions in preventing infections.

Mr. Abdul-Fatawu also encouraged the women to enhance their skills, empowering them to support their spouses in household responsibilities. He emphasized the importance of educating children regardless of gender, breaking stereotypes associated with household roles.

In her address, Miss Bashiru Mardia urged the community women to take their involvement in the VSLA project seriously. She emphasized the need for organization among the groups, enabling them to engage policymakers, hold them accountable, and demand the fulfillment of commitments.

Mr. Abdul-Fatawu concluded by advising unity and collaboration among the women. He emphasized the importance of peaceful coexistence to maximize their participation in VSLA and other economic empowerment projects.

The gathering witnessed the participation of over 35 community women, with other VSLA members expressing their support and gratitude for CIWED-Ghana’s initiatives. They pledged continued support for ongoing and future projects.

On Wednesday, October 25th 2023, CIWED-GH hold a radio discussion at Gbangu fm in Tamale which has coverage and mass listenership in Savelugu and Nanton districts to discuss possible ways of filling the gap of inadequate inclusion of youth on social accountability mechanisms that affect their access to SRMNCAH services. The radio discussion features the Project team of CIWED-Gh, two state actors (health personnel’s) and one non-state actors each from Savelugu municipal and Nanton district. The radio program lasted for an hour and had people from Savelugu, Nanton and other districts including Tamale metropolis calling in to add up to the discussions, commend CIWED-Gh for this initiative and also adding suggestions to enrich the project implementation, outcomes and impacts going forward. The program explained the purpose of the project, the goal, objectives and a detailed account of the net-maps developed in Savelugu and Nanton districts by both State and Non-state actors. The discussions were made clear and imaginative and pictorial form and could be perceived as to how the net-maps were developed and what the net-map actually represented.

Questions about accountability and the rising gaps and apathy of the youth towards health initiatives and projects were adequately discussed. This was to ensure the discussion was representative and was cross-cutting of all aspects and facets of the project. It is worth indicating that, the radio discussion was held mainly in Dagbanli which is the dominant language in the district and speak by all in the region. 

On Wednesday 18th October, 2023, CIWED-GH in our implementation of the PAI net-mapping project conducted activity #3 on the project. The aim of the activity was to convene two-district wide meeting to disseminate the findings of the net-maps developed by the participating stakeholders and entities. Invitations sent were specific requesting the presence of the same people who took part in the net mapping exercise. The attendance recorded match a 100% of the total participants invited in both Savelugu municipal and Nanton district.

The discussions commenced with an opening prayer, a brief welcome and introduction by our resource/MERL manager Mr. Aminu Danaa. He introduced the CIWED-GH team and called on the Executive Director Mr. Baako Abdul-Fatawu to give a welcome and opening remarks. Upon completion of this speech, he invited the Resource Mobilization Officer, Mr. Mohammed Nasir-Deen to present the findings of the net-map, indicating that, the general and most important business of the day. Participants were then asked to keep calm and note their concerns, additions and grievances during the course of the presentation.

The presentation was structured in a number of sections, including the introduction of the PAI project, with a brief overview, the objectives and goals of the project and the issues the project seeks to address with regards to healthcare services and delivery in our communities and the district levels espercialy adolescent SRMNCAH+N issues. Additionally, the presentation was centered on the findings of the net-mapping exercises in each district with the relevant stakeholders; state institutions and non-state institutions for both Savelugu and Nanton district. After the presentation, it bred a number of discussions, which are pinpointed below;

  1. Deliberations on the capturing of power and influence: the participants misrepresented power and influence and came to a conclusion that they shouldn’t be used interchangeably as they mean different things.
  2. Additionally, Participants commended the presentation revealing that this was representative to the best of their understanding on the net-maps they developed in August.
  3. Much time should be spent in this types of workshop, so that things that are not properly understood be well and clearly explain to the understanding of all participants.

Challenges encountered during implementation:

In every project implementation, there are bound to be some problems, challenges and roadblocks to the successful implementation of the project. In our case, the challenges faced are below:

  1. The travel distance of participants from Savelugu municipal and Nanton district affected the participants’ ability to report for the early start of the program.
  2. There were concerns raised about the use of “power” and “influence” interchangeably stating these were related but not same concepts. This led to the adoption of the word “influence” only in the context of the project.
  3. The day and time of the program favored some groups (non-state actors) over other (state actors). Majority stated they had to report to work before coming back for the program

Lessons learnt:

  1. Invitations for next engagements and similar meetings would be consultative, to ensure an appropriate and favorable time for all stakeholders.
  2. Clear and concise language to be used in the rest of the project delivery to avoid ambiguity and unclear communication.
  3. The time for the meeting will be fixed ahead of the stipulated start time to cater for participants travel time.  

Conclusion

The session was concluded with a presentation done by each district on the topic “ways to improve youths’ interest in healthcare delivery and accountability at the district level”. This was to test their understanding of the net-mapping and the interplay of the various stakeholders in delivering healthcare at the district level. Most of the findings revealed the involvement of the youth in decision making, use of radio and TV drama to stimulate, education, use of media, rekindling the youth community forums would ignite and rekindle the youths’ interest in healthcare delivery and accountability at the district level. the Executive director of CIWED-GH Mr. Baako Abdul-Fatawu, concluded the session and thanked all the participants for their commitment since the inception meeting to this part of the project, urging them to support us when we call on them.

In the serene village of Kpatiya in Northern Ghana, the struggle for clean water was a daily ordeal. Community members, young and old, would embark on long, dusty journeys to fetch water from distant, often contaminated sources. This relentless struggle, however, would soon be off pass thanks to the efforts of a remarkable organization – CIWED Ghana.

CIWED, short for Community Initiative for Water and Environmental Development, arrived in Kpatiya community with a vision to transform the lives of its inhabitants. Our mission was clear: to bring clean, accessible water to the village. Little did we know that our journey would not only bring water but also empower the community in many ways they never imagined.

In partnership with Japan Embassy in Ghana, CIWED embarked on the ambitious project of promoting sound learning environment, that is to construct a six (6) unit class room block with axillary facilities at/in kpatiya community in central Gonja district in the savana region of Ghana leading to the construction and installation of boreholes in community. The idea was promising, but success depended on more than just drilling holes in the ground. Recognizing the importance of community involvement, CIWED introduced the concept of a Water/Borehole Management Committee (WBMC).

The WBMC consisted of eleven members, carefully selected to represent different segments of the community. They were farmers, teachers, elders, and women, each with a unique perspective on the community water needs. CIWED’s commitment to sustainable development was evident in the next step – capacity building.

Through a series of workshops and training sessions, CIWED empowered the WBMC members with the knowledge and skills necessary to play their roles effectively. They learned about borehole maintenance, water quality testing, financial management, and the importance of community engagement. The members eagerly embraced their roles, seeing the potential for positive change.

As the boreholes begin construction, pumping clean water will lead to a transformative shift to occurred in Kpatiya. They will no longer have to walk for miles under the scorching sun; clean water will now be available just a stone’s throw away. Children will have more time for school, and adults for income-generating activities. Waterborne diseases will decrease, and health improved. This will be a profound change.

The WBMC’s dedication became the linchpin of this transformation. They will ensure that the boreholes remain in optimal condition. Routine maintenance, timely repairs, and water quality checks became their forte. In emergencies, they will act swiftly, making the boreholes resilient to challenges.

The impact rippled through the community. Women who had once spent hours fetching water will now have time to engage in entrepreneurial ventures. Farmers will increase crop yields as they now have a reliable water source for irrigation. The children of Kpatiya began to dream bigger, knowing that education is within their reach.

With time, the WBMC will develop an innovative ways to sustain the boreholes. They promised to initiate community fundraising drives, collected nominal fees for water usage, and also to establish a community garden. These efforts not only ensure the boreholes’ longevity but also foster a sense of ownership and responsibility within the community.