Although Ghana attained middle income status in 2010 following the discovery of oil, it ranks 138 out of 187 countries in the 2014 Human Development Report and is classified as a low-income, food-deficit country. Its northern regions display many of the same agro-ecological characteristics as Sahelian countries, including poor soil quality, a single and increasingly erratic rainy season, and recurrent floods and droughts.
Northern Ghana lags behind the rest of the country in almost all development indicators. Six out of ten people are poor, compared to just two out of ten in the southern section. The high rate of poverty is linked to a number of factors, including choice of occupation and income generating activities. Nine out of ten households farm on mostly small plots of land (five acres or less), limiting their production capacity to a little more than subsistence levels. A 2012 Comprehensive Food Security and Vulnerability Analysis identified poverty as the leading cause of food insecurity in Northern Ghana.
The Northern, Upper East and Upper West Regions also have some of the highest rates of malnutrition in the country; four out of ten children under the age of five are stunted or chronically malnourished, meaning they will not be able to meet their full growth potential. Nearly thirty percent of people in the Upper East Region do not have adequate access to food, compared to a national average of five percent.
WFP works with the Government of Ghana to implement a development programme focused on food security, nutrition, education, and climate change mitigation and adaptation. A recovery operation for Ivorian refugees is also underway.
School meals: Ghana implements a home-grown school feeding programme, which aims to reduce short-term hunger and malnutrition, increase enrolment, attendance and retention, and boost domestic food production. WFP supports the Government to provide school meals to 100,000 pupils in the country’s most food-insecure regions and in July 2014, WFP replaced its food distributions with cash to enable caterers to buy food from local farmers and markets, thereby injecting money into local economies. In areas where girls’ school attendance is low, WFP also provides take-home food rations for girls, giving families an additional incentive to send girls to school and keep them there. Thirty thousand girls currently benefit from this programme. In collaboration with the Ghana Education Service, a scholarship programme has also been instituted to help brilliant but financially-needy girls who graduate from WFP-assisted schools, to complete their secondary education. In addition, WFP provides technical support to the Ghana School Feeding Programme to improve monitoring, evaluation and policy development.
Nutrition: WFP provides nutritious food supplements to pregnant women and nursing mothers as well as children under two years of age to prevent stunting, a condition found among children who do not receive adequate nutrition during the first 1,000 days of life that causes irreversible cognitive and physical damage. Children under five suffering from moderate acute malnutrition and people living with HIV on anti-retroviral therapy also receive food supplements like Supercereal, a blended cereal fortified with essential vitamins and minerals. In addition, WFP Ghana hosts national and international coordinators of the REACH initiative (Renewed Efforts Against Child Hunger), a UN inter-agency consortium working with government and non-government partners to improve nutrition governance and management. WFP is also the UN agency mandated to assist the consortium of civil society organizations working with the government on the Scaling-Up Nutrition (SUN) movement.
Resilience: WFP helps communities prone to natural disasters such as floods and droughts, to build resilience. Through an asset creation programme, communities help reconstruct vital infrastructure in exchange for cash which replaced food incentives in July 2014, to enable people diversify their meals and source food from local markets. Projects include rehabilitation of dug-outs and small dams, tree planting, reforestation, school gardening and construction of fish ponds. In addition, food security and nutrition sentinel sites have been established in five of Ghana’s ten administrative regions to monitor potential hunger hotspots.
Recovery operation for refugees: Thousands of Ivorian refugees fled to Ghana following an election crisis in Cote d’Ivoire in 2010. WFP provided them with food assistance under an emergency operation that ended in January 2014. A recovery operation to extend the food assistance began in February 2014 and is scheduled to run through March 2015. The recovery operation is a WFP/UNHCR strategy to gradually phase out food assistance, as refugees benefit from language and skills training from UNHCR to increase their self-reliance. WFP provides food rations to 8,500 Ivoirian asylum seekers residing in three refugee camps (Egyeikrom in the Central Region, Ampain in the Western Region and Fetentaa in the Brong-Ahafo Region).
Purchase for Progress (P4P): WFP works with governmental and non-governmental organizations to support 1,524 smallholder farmers in the Ashanti and Northern Regions, with initiatives aimed at addressing some of the major constraints smallholder farmers face, including low production capacity and difficulty accessing markets. Farmers have benefited from training in business and organizational development, have received basic farming equipment and support to construct simple food storage buildings, and have been helped to access markets, including WFP programmes in Ghana. Since the P4P initiative began in 2011, WFP has purchased 3,900 metric tonnes of maize worth USD 1.9 million from smallholders. The P4P initiative built on WFP Ghana’s local procurement activities, which have expanded in recent years; WFP now buys a minimum of 60 percent of its food needs from surplus production areas in Ghana and redistributes to food-insecure regions. Over the past five years, WFP has purchased USD 23 million in food from local suppliers, food manufacturers and smallholder farmers for use in its programmes within the country as well as in other West African countries.
United Nations Humanitarian Response Depot: Ghana hosts one of five United Nations Humanitarian Response Depots (HRDs) in the world. The depot stores and pre-positions emergency supplies and support equipment not just for WFP—who manages the depot—but also for other humanitarian organizations who have registered to use the facility. Since its establishment in Ghana in 2006, the depot has helped to reduce costs and improve users’ emergency response time. Dispatches have been used to respond to several emergency operations in Africa and have reached as far as Haiti. A Logistics Intervention Fleet has also been integrated into the activities of the HRD, with the objective of further improving the region’s response capacity and eliminating the need for capital investments each time an emergency occurs.