Hamish Appleby/IWMI

How can agriculture mitigate the impacts of youth migration and gender disparities?

IWMI kicks off REACH-STR project focusing on the Savannah ecological zones of Ghana

Agriculture sits at the bullseye of many climate related challenges, and a new project in Ghana is set to examine ways to mitigate these, particularly related to gender and migration.

Labor forces have seen major shifts due to increasing urban migration of youth. Gender disparities in land usage as a result of traditional land tenure systems have been pervasive in West Africa and elsewhere. Governments past and present have attempted with minimal success to counter these challenges.

IWMI and other agricultural experts recently examined these issues in the second inception workshop of the Resilience Against Climate Change: Social Transformation Research and Policy Advocacy (REACH-STR) project held in Tamale.

“The European Union perceives that in the long term agricultural transformation and development in Ghana is a critical element in the whole of Ghana’s development precisely because of the massive number of people involved in the sector, and also because of the challenges and stresses in the sector”, noted Dr. Alan Nicol, IWMI researcher and Program Director Water, Growth and Inclusion in his opening remarks.

The workshop was led and facilitated by Dr. Charity Osei-Amponsah, Researcher-Project Coordinator of REACH-STR, Dr. Everisto Mapedza, Senior Researcher and Social and Institutional Scientist, and Ms. Esther Wahabu. In attendance were stakeholders, chiefs and opinion leaders from the Savannah ecological zone, and the academia. The aim was to interrogate agricultural challenges in the Northern Region as a means of proposing lasting solutions to mitigating them.

The International Water Management Institute (IWMI) is leading this six-year REACH-STR project in Upper West and Northern Region, in partnership with University for Development Studies, University of Ghana-Centre for Migration Studies, and Science and Technology Policy Research Institute of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. The general objective of the project is a more inclusive and sustainable economic growth policy and programming approaches are undertaken in Northern Ghana by 2025. The main objective of the inception workshop was to introduce the project objectives and work streams to stakeholders, to generate discussions and receive inputs to improve the conceptualization of research design and methodologies.  

Dr. Charity Osei-Amponsah, in her presentation titled, REACH-STR Project Overview and Work Streams, emphasized, “At the end, we expect that the local, regional and national decision-makers better understand the social transformation conditions that will enable sustainable and inclusive rural economies, thereby promoting the implementation of climate change adaptation practices in development plans and strategies.”

The project is funded by the European Union under the productive investment for agriculture programme, with support from the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), through the Competitive Cashew initiative (ComCashew), and supported by the CGIAR Research Program on Water, Land and Ecosystems (WLE), which works toward sustainable food systems that address gender, migration and urbanization challenges. 

Women in agriculture. Pwalugu in the Upper East Region.
Hamish Appleby/IWMI

“How do we in the future make sure that all the able bodied-persons or at least those who want to do something in agriculture are given the opportunity through the investments, which are being made in agriculture so that they can do something?”, Dr. Everisto Mapedza questioned during his presentation titled Evidence-based Gender Research: Key Constraints to Positive Transformation. He indicated that gender roles often govern the processes of production and reproduction, consumption and distribution, access to services, opportunities, information, power relationships and power dynamics. 

On their part, Professor Joseph Teye, Dr. Mary Setrana and Dr. Leander Kandilige from the Centre for Migration Studies in a presentation titled, Migration and Youth-Specific Issues of Transformation: The Upper West Region, Ghana, discussed social transformation indicators and effects of rural urban migration on agriculture.  

The Northern Development Authority’s (NDA) CEO, Mr. Alhaji Dr. Majeed Haroun, praised the project’s inclusivity in accordance with their own goals, saying that, "Youth unemployment has been identified as a major problem in all the NDA zones and therefore we are trying to introduce tree and fiber cultivation as a way of providing jobs."

The stakeholders and opinion leaders are hopeful that the Northern Region, which suffers the most unfriendly ecological conditions, would see a minimized migration of the youth if the project is eventually implemented.

Dr. Osei-Amponsah expressed gratitude to stakeholders for their commitment to the project, saying that their inputs would be synthesized and validated to better shape the research design and methodology to achieve the expected results. 

A group picture of participants after the workshop.
Dr. Charity Osei-Amponsah/IWMI