Food prices rose 59.7% and transport costs increased 71.4%
The cost of living crisis is affecting all of us, from weekly shops going up to turning the heating down. The situation in Ghana is extreme, it has one of the highest rates of inflation in the entire world.
This was very apparent when visiting Hohoe at the weekend. The market is usually full of cheer & colour with dozens of stalls selling all your basic needs, and a few luxuries. But now it is quiet, many stalls are closed and the ones remaining are even more eager for business from the very few customers.
In the past six months fuel prices have risen 200% and a Gallon of oil which cost 1,400 cedi in June was 3,000 cedi at the weekend, and prices are rising every single day.
The effect of these fuel increases was clearly visible at taxi rank in the centre of the town. Usually it’s a place full of noise, hustle & bustle with bus conductors shouting “cra, cra ,cra” to encourage people to board their bus to Accra. However, it is now eerily quiet. People can no longer afford to travel.
Amos, who makes his living driving a tuk-tuk, describes the situation as, “very, very bad.”
Last year it would cost him 25 cedi to fill the tank of his small motor, now it’s up to 90 cedi.
Based around 9km from the market town, Kpando, most of Amos’ custom was taking women to the market there.
Due to the fuel increases he has had to put his prices up but people cannot afford it.
Now most of the women walk the 18km round trip, carry heavy supplies on their heads all the way home in the heat. The journey on foot can take up to six hours. The time used to make this trek takes time away from working on their farms, where they grow food to feed their families.
The exchange rate has also had a huge effect. It is now around 13 cedi to the US dollar, six months previously it was around 5 cedi.
Ghana relies heavily on imported goods, especially in agriculture; chemicals for farming, fertiliser, etc. It is now 650 cedi for a 50kg bag of fertiliser, in June it was 100 cedi.
Farmers, both commercial and subsistence, now can’t produce as much because of high cost of agriculture imports.
The prices of everything have risen so much that many people in the villages we work in only have one meal a day.
As a small charity working with these communities, we too are feeling the struggles. Most of our income comes in GB pounds (with some New Zealand dollars & Euros too – thank you to our donors around the world!) While the exchange rate might benefit spending pounds it doesn’t outweigh the huge increases on the cost of materials we use.
A set of shelves and a table & chairs for a community library
And five bags of cement to help build the community toilets
The toilets we have built, with communities in Ghana have been described as, “better than a bag of gold”! As well as saving lives they also provide dignity for all who use them. We are also always so delighted to see the libraries we have refurbished and stocked (with the help from Book Aid International) in full use. Pearl, the Library Prefect at Alavanyo Kpeme Library opens the library for her students at 6:30am so they can read their favourite books before school starts, as well as use it to study in after school.
Thank you so much again to Shin and everyone who has sponsored her – you make a difference to people’s lives everyday through your support.
Whist this is not directly related to our charity work our work goes on in the community so what affects the community affects our ability to work with them.
Clemence our project manager has many jobs. As well as working for us and one of these is to to farm to provide food for his family. He grows a variety of crops cassava, maize, sweet peppers to name some. He has sent us these photos of his farm which was flooded by completely unusual floods. As you can see the harvest of maize and sweet peppers have been destroyed but the cassava is probably salvageable.
The worlds attention has been directed at the floods in Pakistan and now Australia but many countries in West Africa have been affected by flooding, with over 730,000 people affected.
With floodwaters washing over ground that is used for open defecation it creates the perfect situation for spreading diseases such as cholera. To help prevent this we need to build more toilets and provide clean water supplies.
A toilet block for a community can cost as little as £14,000 with about half of this being contributed by the community with their labour and locally available materials. A borehole and associated water tower can be as little as £12,000 again with about a third of this being contributed by the communities.
Joshua Etteh is a 15 year old student at Gbi-Wedbe Basic A School in the Volta Region of Ghana. He wants to be a doctor when he grows up. He enjoys reading in the library because the books help him understand how to construct sentences and use punctuation. He also learns new vocabulary from reading. Some of his favourites are; The Upside of Falling by Alex Light, Wild Lily by KM Peyton, and Pigeon English by Stephen Kelman.
Joshua is one of 1,000 students who use the library. They take it in turns to read novels and stories in early morning group reading for the first hour of the school day. As well as taking the academic books to the classroom to enhance their studies.
The library was refurbished by Community Action Ghana with local artisans voluntarily giving their time to make the tables and bookshelves. These bookshelves were then stocked by Book Aid International. Prior to this the library hadn’t had any new books for 25years. Patrick Dzandu, ITC Teacher and Library Champion, proudly told us the old, dusty books are now in the archives!
Joshua says: “Thank you to Book Aid International. We say thank you very much”
A kind donor gave us £50 to “spend on something useful” when in Ghana. £50 converts to 489 Ghanaian Cedi – which is a lot of money! Wanting to spend the money wisely we asked the village what would be useful.
The maternity clinic asked for a new ceiling fan for the delivery room, which until now didn’t have one – and it gets hot in there! The clinic is part of the Dzogbedze Community Health Service and supports pre & postnatal women as well as during childbirth. When buying the fan in Kpando we told the store owner what it was for and she discounted it to 280 cedi (£28.62) Midwife Anita, Nurse Doreen & Baby Karen were very grateful.
Another request came from the primary school. They needed exercise books and mathematics sets. School is free in Ghana but children must provide their own books and equipment, which not all can afford. At the China Mall in Accra we bought:
40x exercise books
3x mathematics sets
100x sticks of chalk
4x alphabet & numbers wall posters
All of this totalled 109 cedi (£11.14) and will go a long way in supporting the children who cannot afford their own school supplies. The teachers were also grateful for the additions to their classrooms.
In 2019 we worked with the Alavanyo Dzogbedze community to build a toilet block. Three years on it is still in full use. The cleaning of the toilets is done by Janet, who lives closest to them. The remaining 100 cedi was spent on replenishing the cleaning supplies. Janet specifically asked for a new standing brush which cost 20 cedi (£2.04) and we had enough left for two big bottles of bleach.
As you can see this generous donation has gone a really long way in supporting women in labour, children, teachers, Janet and the whole community.
Thank you to our generous Ghanaian Sister for this gift of £50 and thank you to everyone who has made a donation or is considering one in the future. Whatever you are able to donate, however often, makes a real difference to people’s lives.
While visiting our projects we heard of a fire at a local school – EP Technical Vocational Institute in Alavanyo Kpeme.
Thankfully the students were on vacation at the time so no one was hurt. But one of the dormitories was badly affected. Before the boys went on holiday they put all of their possessions into boxes, along with their mattress, and piled them into the dormitory for safe keeping.
An electrical fault led to the dormitory burning down
Schools are free in Ghana but students must bring their own mattresses, school uniform, books, etc. All of these have been burnt in the fire – only a few bits and pieces are salvagable.
The boys in this dormitory are second & third years (aged 15-17.) If they cannot replace their belongings they will be unable to return to school and finish their education.
The school have completed an immediate needs assessment and found that 195 mattresses are needed for the boys.
Each mattress costs the equivalent of £31.04
The school reached out to us, and other local NGOs to support. So far we have bought & delivered eight mattresses so eight boys now have a bed to sleep on. We would love to be able to replace more mattresses as soon as possible to help the students get back to their studies.
Charlotte, a seamstress from Alavanyo ,is hard at work making these beautiful bags for us to sell. As well as generating an income for the charity it provides Charlotte with work, helping her look after her family. Watch this space for our Etsy shop where we will showcase all of the bags and other items we’ll be bringing back in June.
Home Economics teacher, Florence Kumah, is overjoyed with the sewing machines for her class. Jobyco worked their wonders and the drum and the machines arrived safe and secure. Clemence handed them over to Florence at the school with some pupils in attendance. They are now using them in their lessons. Once again thanks to Margaret for donating not only the machines but bobbins, threads and needles. In fact almost everything that the pupils need to get started on their learning curve. Alyrene, one of the trustees, is visiting the projects later this month and will hopefully get some photos and quotes from the children as to how they are using them.
It all goes to show that items we have that we no longer use can have a whole new life somewhere. If you have some useful but unused items you think might be of use to someone in the Volta region use the contact page to get in touch. Alyrene might be able to take it with her when she goes.
I was telling our friend Kay about how Florence was finding it difficult to teach machine sewing with a single broken sewing machine and she said “I think I know some one who can help.” A couple of weeks later she turns up with four sewing machines from her sister, Margaret. The machines are in excellent working order and came with their instruction books and lots of supplies: threads, spare feet, bobbins etc. etc.
The next problem to solve was how to transport them to Florence’s school. With Clemence Kitsi’s help we found a shipping company in Luton. They could supply a drum and then collect it and deliver it not just to Accra but directly to Alavanyo village. Jobyco efficiently handles all the shipping and paperwork with consummate ease.
So on Friday 25th March 2022 the four sewing machines securely packed into a shipping drum were loaded onto a van to be transported at the start of their journey to Florence Kumah to help her teach Home Economics at Alavanyo Junior Secondary school. I’ll let you know when they arrive.
The cost of the drum was £50 and it will be put to good use when it is emptied, and the cost of transporting it was £90 If you would like to help fund future shipments to the Volta region please click on the donate button.