Promoting youth voices and community activism in northern Ghana: The Youth Community Journalism Approach

The voices of young people are essential to the transformation of communities; they are invaluable resources for promoting constructive change.

This is particularly evident in the context of northern Ghana, where the extent of youth involvement in addressing injustices and engaging stakeholders and duty-bearers on community issues is a topic of concern.

According to Jeffrey D. Sachs. (2015), the constructive nature of youth voices goes beyond being beneficial; it is essential for the very fabric of community building.

However, despite the inherent value of youth voices, there is a significant exclusion of youth from decision-making processes and community development initiatives.

This exclusion can be attributed to various factors, including cultural, systemic, and structural barriers.?

Addressing Misinformation, Disinformation and Non-information

The consequence is a palpable information gap between the youth and the adult-led society, as well as misinformation/fake news, exacerbating the challenges fa
ced by young people in their efforts to contribute meaningfully to community transformation.

As the youth grapple with exclusion, they also need to address the crisis of misinformation/fake news and close the information gap between themselves and the adult-led society.

Ghana has 8.2 million social media users and 15.7 million internet users (Digital, 2022). This indicates how susceptible young people are to the rapid spread of fake/misinformation.?

The Youth Speak Up Model

To address this, empowering youth with skills to generate, analyse, and engage with information is crucial. Thus, the Youth Speak Up initiative, under the Empowerment for Life Programme and the Citizens-Led Educational Accountability and Responsiveness in Ghana.

Implemented by the Youth Empowerment for Life (YEFL-Ghana), a non-governmental organisation that seeks to empower the youth to lead change, and its partners, the Youth Speak Up Model adopts a community journalism approach, training youth as community journalists (CJs).

The Yo
uth Speak Up model prepares young people to become CJs by equipping them with the requisite tools to communicate effectively on radio, print, and social media.

They are also provided with knowledge and abilities to collect, report on, evaluate, and share pertinent news and information with the public.

By giving them these tools, they are empowered to take charge of their narratives and influence public discourse.

This is accomplished through working with local and community radio stations, which give young people a platform to voice their opinions.??

?Benefits of the Community Journalism Approach

Ball (Ball-Rokeach et al., 2001) advocated engaging young people in journalism, which has proven to be a catalyst for instilling a sense of voice, efficacy, and community belonging.

? This is what the Youth Speak Up approach firmly aligns with. The approach is instrumental in building youth confidence and consciousness as they negotiate their own development.

Community journalists actively discuss local issues
on the radio on topics such as tax payment, infrastructure development, education access and delivery, revenue generation, and utilization.

The radio and community journalism approach not only amplifies youth voices but also fosters dialogue with local authorities, resulting in increased responsiveness from district-level actors.

Fostering Collaborations

Additionally, collaboration with local media houses (numbering a total of 10 radio stations) under the Youth Speak Up initiative further amplifies youth voices, providing them with platforms and tools to articulate their perspectives.

This collaboration has been observed to validate the voices of the youth, turning them into local ‘celebrities’ and increasing their social value within their communities, while also championing local ownership of those community and local-level initiatives.

The impact is not only evident in increased revenue for communities but also in the level of accountability achieved, as revenue and budget officers appreciate the supp
ort and advocacy provided by youth community journalists.

Youth Voice in Community Development

The Youth Speak Up initiative deliberately mobilizes youth, empowering them to engage in community development.

By providing the youth not only with engagement techniques but also leadership skills and experience, the initiative ensures their consequential involvement in issues that matter to them.

This approach aligns with the notion that engaging youth during their formative years fosters lifelong identities as active, responsible, and ethical participants, thereby enhancing civil society (Levine, 2007).?

Impact in Scope

The youth community journalists, spanning 11 districts, have raised issues of national interest, gaining attention at the national level.

They use radio and social media to bridge information gaps in education, contributing to educational accountability and transparency.

The initiative has demonstrated its effectiveness as an inclusion platform for youth, including young girls.

Youth Comm
unity Journalists have successfully mobilised teaching and learning resources for deprived schools, making a tangible impact on education.

In conclusion, the Youth Speak Up Model is a beacon of hope for the northern Ghanaian youth, empowering them to be active contributors to their communities.

By leveraging community journalism, this initiative not only addresses the information gap but also enhances youth voices, fostering positive community transformation.

The ripple effects of this approach are evident in improved accountability, increased community revenue, and the meaningful inclusion of youth in local development processes.

(Alhassan Abdul-Ganiyu is the Technical Advisor – Youth, Advocacy and Gender, YEFL-Ghana)?

Source: Ghana News Agency

Akatsi Police exhumes body, suspect reappears in court on March 8

A team of Police personnel from the Akatsi Municipal Police Command in the Volta Region, have exhumed the body of a 34-year-old man alleged to have been killed by his father.

Afealete Dzreke, popularly known as ‘Hunor Akpatogui’ aged about 50 years, was arrested by the Akatsi Police on Sunday February 4, 2024, for allegedly killing his son and burying him in a nearby bush at Dzuefe-Hamekope in the locality.

A source within the Akatsi Police told the Ghana News Agency (GNA) that the suspect, who appeared at the Akatsi Magistrate Court on Monday February 5, had been remanded into Police custody and would reappear on March 8, 2024.

The GNA learnt that the body of the deceased would be moved to Accra for further examination.

In an interview with the GNA, Mr Selorm Bright Gligui, the Assembly Member of the area, commended the residents and the heavy police presence to ensure law and order during the process to exhume the deceased’s body.

Some residents who spoke with the GNA alleged that prior to his demise,
the deceased had been engaged in a misunderstanding about some bad acts of the suspect who practiced as a fetish priest and attributed it to the cause of death.

Source: Ghana News Agency

Water Resources Commission rolls out pilot project for groundwater safety

The Water Resources Commission (WRC) has launched an initiative to register public and private boreholes in houses in the Adenta and Ga West municipalities in the Greater Accra Region, to ensure safe groundwater.

This follows concerns raised by residents about an increase in the construction of boreholes and wells at homes without any water treatment guidelines from the Commission.

The pilot project would help monitor water quality and availability in the municipalities and the initiative would identify and mitigate threats to groundwater, educate and engage communities in sustainable water safety practices from abstraction to storage.

Other factors that necessitated the project were to support policymakers with data-driven insights, facilitate collaboration between governmental bodies, non-governmental organisations and the communities and enhance infrastructure for water quality.

Dr Freda Prempeh, Minister of Sanitation and Water Resources, who made this known at a news conference, said sampling of grou
ndwater sources within the Adanta and Ga West Municipalities would be tested for free by the WRC.

‘Another methodology is to employ state-of-the-art technologies for well installation and boreholes in the households, monitoring and to facilitate efficient data collection and analyze and implement a centralized system to store and manage collected data,’ she stated.

She said: ‘This effort offers a road plan for sustainable water management through cooperation, technological and community involvement, adding that; ‘Completing this project will be a critical step in ensuring Adenta and Ga West Municipalities have a sustainable water future.’

Source: Ghana News Agency

Driver on bail for allegedly knocking pedestrian dead

The Kaneshie District Court has granted a GHC50,000.00 bail with two sureties to a female driver who allegedly knocked down a pedestrian who later lost her life at a hospital.

The plea of the driver was not taken, and she is to make her next appearance on March 7, 2024.

Police Chief Inspector Issifu Abudu informed the Court presided over by Mrs Ama Adomako Kwakye that on January 30, 2024, at about 2125 hours, the female driver, 34 years of Taifa, was driving a Ford Focus Saloon car with registration number GT 3453-18 with one person on board.

She was driving from Lapaz towards Taifa through the George Walker Bush Highway and occupied the outer lane, the prosecution said.

Chief Inspector Abudu said on reaching a section of the road at Apenkwa a few meters to the Achimota old overhead bridge, she told police that a motor rider had crossed her path, so she veered into the middle lane and applied the brake instantly.

The Court heard that in the process, the vehicle spun around several times, and knocked down
the deceased female adult pedestrian, Helena Owusu, aged 27 years, who was walking along the road.

The prosecution said the victim sustained injuries and was rushed to Saint Michael’s Specialist Hospital at Lapaz, and later referred to the 37 Military Hospital where she was pronounced dead on arrival.

Chief Inspector Abudu said the body was deposited at the Police Hospital Mortuary for autopsy.

Source: Ghana News Agency

PIAC launches simplified version of annual reports

The Public Interest and Accountability Committee (PIAC) has launched the ‘citizens version’ of the statutory annual report on the management and use of petroleum revenue.

The initiative is part of efforts to simplify and disseminate information to equip citizens with the needed knowledge for advocacy and decision-making.

The first edition of the document which was launched on Tuesday provides summarised and comprehensive information, which otherwise was regarded voluminous and technical in the original 2022 annual report.

It entails petroleum production and sales statistics, petroleum utilization, collection and allocation of petroleum revenues, distribution, and utilization of the Annual Budgetted Funds Amount (ABFA) among other areas.

Professor Nana Susubribi Krobea Boaten (S. K. B.) Asante, the paramount chief of Asante Asokore and the former President of the Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences launched the 60-page document at a brief ceremony.

Emerita Professor Elizabeth Ardayfio-Schandorf, the Chairp
erson of PIAC, said the ‘Citizens Version’ reflected the committee’s commitment to promoting transparency and accountability which was crucial for prudent financial management.

She said the document was a vital resource aimed at empowering citizens to contribute to the governance of petroleum resources.

‘We believe that getting the public informed is the foundation of a transparent and accountable governance structure for our petroleum revenues,’ she said.

Ms Kathleen Addy, the Chairperson of the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE), observed that participation in governance had become tedious for citizens due to lack of information to make informed comments and decisions on national issues.

The introduction of simplified version of the PIAC annual report would go a long way to help NCCE in civic education.

‘It is hoped that this model will be adopted by other institutions to ensure that they have reports that citizens can learn from and engage with,’ she said.

Dr Steve Manteaw, former Chairpe
rson of PIAC, encouraged the government to be savvy of trends and changes within the sector to ensure the country was not left behind in the energy transition phase.

Source: Ghana News Agency

Manhyia Palace receives first consignment of looted objects

The Manhyia Palace in Kumasi, has received the first batch of looted objects and artefacts from the American Museum.

The Palace is expected to receive another batch from the British Museum on Thursday, February 08, this year.

The returned artefacts would be presented to Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, the Asantehene, on Thursday, February 08, this year, during a durbar of chiefs and people of Asanteman (Ashante Kingdom).

This would mark the 150th anniversary of the Sagrenti War, which culminated in the burning of the Manhyia palace and the looting of golden ornaments and other artefacts from the palace by soldiers of the British colonialists.

Mr Osei Bonsu Sarfo Kantanka, a Monarchical historian attached to the Manhyia palace, told the Ghana News Agency (GNA), that the return of some of the looted artefacts was very significant since it marked a turning point in the Anglo-Asante history.

He said the items would be loaned to the palace for three years and if well managed, the duration could be extended for another

Mr Sarfo Kantanka said aside from their significance in portraying the creativity of their ancestors to present and future generations, some of the artefacts also portrayed the soul and spirit of Asanteman.

He indicated that Otumfuo Osei Tutu II would sit in state during the ‘Kuntunkuni’ durbar on February 08, at the Manhyia palace to receive the items.

The Sagrenti War, which was fought in 1874, led to the burning and looting of the Manhyia palace of the then Asantehene Kofi Karikari, by British soldiers and the death of many Asante people.

The war was caused by three major factors: colonial competition, control over trade routes, and ethnic and religious tension.

Source: Ghana News Agency

Poor yields responsible for the fall in the price of cashew – TCDA

The Tree Crops Development Authority (TCDA) has attributed the sharp decline of the price of cashew in the country to poor yields.

Accordingly, Mr Joseph Alexander Bonsu, farmers’ representative on the TCDA said Ghana’s international price for cashew fell marginally from US$1,050 dollars to US$830 dollars per ton.

In 2023, he said the country’s cashew product was considered the best quality in the sub-Saharan region, internationally and thereby fetching the nation a good price.

Locally, the price of cashew has declined from GHC8.5, selling between GHC7.5 and GHC7.00 per kilogramme.

Mr Bonsu was speaking at a media engagement with cashew farmers and stakeholders organised by the Cashew Watch Ghana (CWG) held at Sampa in the Jaman North District of the Bono Region.

The engagement attended by farmers and processors drawn from the Tain and Jaman North Districts as well as the Jaman South Municipality formed part of activities of a project being implemented by the CWG with support from the Star Ghana Foundati

CWG is a platform of civil society groups comprising cashew farmers, media practitioners and non-governmental organisations that advocates and promotes the economic livelihoods of especially women farmers in cashew production.

Titled ‘Amplifying the Voices of Cashew Farmers’, the project among other objectives sought to identify, advocate, and help tackle pertinent challenges confronting cashew farmers and the growth of the sector.

Mr Bonsu said the rise in the dollar rate and improved quality yields that met international standards remained a key index to determine a better price for cashew products.

He therefore advised cashew farmers to dry their nuts well and also form cooperatives, as the government worked to find a standardised scale for the measurement of cashew nuts in the country.

Mr Raphael Godlove Ahenu, the National Convener of CWG underscored the need for cashew farmers in the country to form cooperatives in tackling the challenges confronting the sector, including access to ready market
s and good market price for the nuts.

Source: Ghana News Agency

Ashaiman roads yet to see facelift after demonstration

Roads in the Ashaiman municipality are yet to see any signs of facelift, four months after residents demonstrated to call on the government to fix their roads.

Residents, clad in red, embarked on a demonstration dubbed ‘Fix Our Roads’ on October 3, 2023, during which they blocked the roads and burnt vehicle tyres to back their demand.

Residents, however, told the Ghana News Agency (GNA) in an interview that roads connecting communities in the municipality to other areas remained deplorable, dusty, and full of potholes.

The areas include Tarboline, Valco-Flats, Newtown Junction, and Ashaiman Main Road, which links the municipality to Tema West and other districts.

Some drivers said the roads had become a source of daily misery for them due to the deep potholes and uneven surface, which they noted were damaging to their vehicles.

Mr. Mubarik Gariba, a driver, told the GNA that the number of times he needed to service his vehicle had increased due to the poor condition of the road.

He said his passengers c
omplained about the discomfort they experienced any time he plied the roads to the lorry stations.

He said even though some people voluntarily filled some of the potholes with sand, that could not be the solution, and therefore called on authorities to reconstruct the roads for easy movement of people and goods.

Mr. William Danku, a shopkeeper along one of the affected roads, expressed worry over the persistent dust emanating from the road whenever vehicles passed, indicating that it was affecting his business negatively.

He said despite several demonstrations they carried out in the past to back their demands for the roads to be fixed, they were yet to see improvement as they remained in the same deplorable state.

Madam Sumaya Dauda, a resident, also complained about the difficulties in commuting from the Ashaiman municipality to others, saying that the combination of dust and numerous potholes compounded their daily socio-economic struggles.

She therefore pleaded with the Ashaiman Municipal Assembly (A
SHMA) and the government to intervene and address the deteriorating road conditions as soon as possible.

Source: Ghana News Agency