Current issues and what the World Food Programme is doing
Ghana is a West African nation on the Gulf of Guinea. There are marked climate, agro-ecological and economic disparities between the south, which has two rainy seasons, and the arid north, which has only one. In the north, climate change is contributing to increasingly erratic rainfall, and thus to desertification. As a result, in this region chronic poverty and food insecurity are widespread.
Whereas in the south around 20 percent of people live in poverty, in the north that figure is 60 percent. In the Northern Region thirty percent of children under the age of five are stunted or chronically malnourished, and this affects not only their growth but also their educational development and economic potential. In the Upper East Region, nearly thirty percent of people do not have adequate access to food, compared to a national average of five percent.
The prevalence of HIV infection is low, but has risen marginally over the past three years. People who are living with HIV are more prone to food insecurity and therefore need support.
At the World Food Programme (WFP), we have several projects underway in Ghana to help vulnerable people and those most at risk of food insecurity. Keep reading to find out more about what the issues are and how we’re helping.
What are the current issues in Ghana
WFP works with the Government of Ghana to implement a development programme focused on food security, nutrition, education, and climate change mitigation and adaptation.
24.2 percent of Ghanaians live below the poverty line, 70 percent of them in the Northern, Upper Western and Upper East Regions. In these regions, food insecurity rates range from 10 to 28 percent of the population (WFP Comprehensive Food Security and Vulnerability Assessment 2012). Here, six out of ten households farm on small plots of land (five acres or less) with production capacity barely at subsistence level.
Climate change is creeping south from the Sahel into Ghana, causing unpredictable rainfall in the Northern, Upper West and Upper East Regions. Consequently, these parts of the country alternate between drought and flooding, and soil erosion is severely impacting agriculture, the north’s primary source of employment, income and food. Smallholders are especially vulnerable to the natural disasters affecting the region and some are abandoning farming altogether.
Desertification in the north has been exacerbated by illegal logging for the production of charcoal and firewood, and by bush burning for farming and hunting. Both activities have reduced the level of nutrients being returned to the soil, and have affected crop yields and ecosystems, increasing food scarcity.
Fluctuating food prices
The factors affecting livestock and crop farming in the north have a knock-on effect on food prices, which fluctuate according to availability. This is compounded by the fact that few farmers have the means to store produce without spoilage through the lean season, or to transport their harvests from one area to another. Ghanaians are also vulnerable to global price spikes for certain commodities, including rice.
What the World Food Programme is doing in Ghana
Our work in Ghana is focused on nutrition, food security, access to education, and resilience.
Nutrition programmes for vulnerable people
WFP provides nutritious food supplements to 12,000 pregnant and nursing mothers, and 96,000 children aged 6-59 months suffering from moderate acute malnutrition. We are also providing food assistance to 6,000 people who are living with HIV and are on antiretroviral therapy. A new nutrition programme is addressing stunting and micronutrient deficiencies among 3,700 people in northern Ghana.
Improving food security through Purchase for Progress
WFP is working in partnership with Ghana’s Ministry of Agriculture, development partners and non-governmental organizations to support over 1,500 smallholder farmers in the Ashanti and Northern Regions. Initiatives are aimed at improving production capacity, food storage and safety, and market access. Farmers benefit from business training and development, receive basic farming equipment and support, and are assisted in accessing new markets, including food used in WFP programmes. To date, WFP has bought over 5,000mt of maize and rice from participating smallholder farmers. For more information, please see our factsheet Purchase for Progress - P4P in Ghana
School meals programme
The aim of the school meals programme is to reduce short-term hunger and malnutrition, increase school enrolment, attendance and retention, and boost domestic food production. In Ghana, WFP is working with the Government to provide school meals to 48,000 pupils in the country’s most food-insecure regions. In July 2014, WFP replaced its food distributions with cash to enable schools to buy food from local farmers and markets, boosting local economies.
WFP provides take-home food rations to 30,000 girls in areas where girls’ school attendance is low. This gives families an extra incentive to send girls to school and keep them in education. In collaboration with the Ghana Education Service, a scholarship programme has been instituted to help brilliant but financially-needy girls who graduate from WFP-supported schools to continue their education.
With support from the Brazil Centre of Excellence Against Hunger, WFP and the Government are developing policy and drafting a law which will provide the framework for school feeding in Ghana.
With Ghana becoming increasingly prone to climate-related natural disasters, WFP has instigated programmes to help vulnerable communities build resilience. These include an asset creation programme through which communities reconstruct vital infrastructure in exchange for cash.
This, in turn, enables people to diversify their meals and source their foods from local markets. Projects include land rehabilitation, dam construction, school gardening, and construction of fish ponds.
World Food Programme partners in Ghana
WFP cannot fight global hunger and poverty alone. These are our partners in Ghana:
- Adventist Development & Relief Agency (ADRA)
- ACDI/VOCA Agriculture Development and Value Chain Enhancement project (ADVANCE)
- Brazil Centre of Excellence Against Hunger
- Crop Research Institute (CRI)
- Farm Radio International
- Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
- Food Research Institute (FRI)
- Ghana Education Service
- Ghana Grains Council (GGC)
- Ghana Health Service
- Ghana School Feeding Programme
- International Fertilizer Development Centre (IFDC)
- International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA)
- Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), Department of Agricultural Economics, Agribusiness and Extension
- Ministry of Education
- Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA)
- Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection
- Ministry of Health
- Partnership for Child Development
- Savannah Agriculture Research Institute (SARI)
- The Netherlands Development Organization (SNV)
- UN Women
- World Health Organization
- Women in Agricultural Development (WIAD), MoFA
Featured Ghana publications
A Country Brief provides the latest snapshot of the country strategy, operations, operational highlights (achievements and issues/challenges), partnerships and country background.
Looking for more publications on Ghana? Visit the Ghana publications archive.