CRS Work in Ghana
Catholic Relief Services Ghana's largest programs are designed to benefit children. The education program, for example, supports nearly 250,000 schoolchildren. Through our five diocesan partners, CRS health initiatives reach out to people living with HIV. CRS projects that support water and sanitation, agribusiness, and peacebuilding reach some of Ghana's most vulnerable communities, in addition to building a solid network of committed and experienced partners.
In the three northern regions, 76 percent of Ghanaians are illiterate—the highest rate in the country. Recognizing the need to improve education in Ghana, the CRS portfolio focuses on young schoolchildren. The largest project is food assistance, which encourages attendance and retention by providing hot lunches for schoolchildren and take-home rations for girls. The project reaches all 34 districts in the three northern regions.
While getting children to school is the first step, delivering quality education is equally important. CRS strives to improve the quality of education delivered in the classroom by training teachers and providing teaching and learning materials to engage children effectively. To keep children healthy so that they can attend school, CRS programs teach sanitation and hygiene practices and provide twice-yearly deworming for students.
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CRS Ghana's health program responds to the poor health conditions in the country by tailoring support to the regions that need the most immediate attention. CRS Ghana partners with the Ministry of Health to assist rural outreach services where growth monitoring and immunizations for children under 5 years of age are conducted. CRS Ghana provides training to improve the quality of services, and helps increase access to these services by supporting construction. An additional child survival project was recently developed to complement these existing efforts. This project focuses specifically on rehabilitating moderately and severely malnourished children by using wholesome, locally available food.
In Ghana, the HIV prevalence rate for adults is estimated at approximately 3 percent. While that rate is relatively lower than in many African countries, most people living with HIV in Ghana are still unable to access antiretroviral medicines. Stigma is also high throughout the country, which means that people living with HIV shy away from available services. CRS Ghana's HIV and AIDS care and support project focuses on providing dignified care to people living with HIV. Volunteers visit patients in their homes, provide counseling, and help care for their children. They also discuss HIV with community members in an effort to minimize the social stigma of the virus.
CRS Ghana has traditionally supported Ghana's most vulnerable groups. CRS Ghana currently partners with the Department of Social Welfare, the Ghana Health Services, Catholic dioceses and hospitals, and others to provide food to people living with HIV, orphaned children, people who are mentally ill, the elderly and the disabled.
Ghana has the second-highest number of cases of guinea worm in the world. In rural areas, toilets are scarce and many people don't even have access to latrines. In response, CRS Ghana has used private resources to meet water and sanitation needs, especially in the three northern regions. By helping communities build water facilities and household latrines, CRS Ghana has improved access to clean water and hygienic sanitation in 26 communities. The people of Ghana contribute to the project by providing labor and locally available materials for construction of facilities.
CRS Ghana recognizes that in order to increase household income, efforts must be made to improve both the production and marketing of crops produced by small-scale farmers. CRS Ghana is working with the Diocese of Navrongo-Bolgatanga to increase profits and production of peanut farmers in two districts in the Northern Region. In the project's first year, groundnut (peanut) profits increased by 50 percent.
In the 1990s, ethnic conflicts devastated parts of the three northern regions. Since then, areas that have had a history of conflict have been maintaining a fragile peace. In order to promote sustainable peace, CRS Ghana and the Diocese of Damongo are reaching out to five dioceses in the three northern regions. Satellite peace centers have been established where community-led peace initiatives have the opportunity to take root and thrive.