LDC

In the field

Farming for a better life in Ghana’s ‘witch camps’

10.01.2016

At first glance, the village looks the same as any other in northern Ghana. Small, straw-roofed mud huts cluster together like mushrooms. Ochre-colored dust hangs in the air.

But the residents here are no regular villagers. Accused of witchcraft, forced to leave behind their communities, families and belongings, these people – who are very often vulnerable, elderly women – have sought refuge here from violent persecution.

In certain parts of Africa, belief in the malicious power of witchcraft is widespread, with illness, misfortune and natural disasters often blamed on black magic. In the Ghana’s ‘witch camps’, people accused of witchcraft find safety from vigilantes, but face a life of hardship in exile, often with no electricity or running water, or the means to provide for themselves.

From 2013 to 2017, the Louis Dreyfus Foundation funded a project with LDC as the implementing partner, to support people living in three “witch camps” in northern Ghana – Gambaga, Gnani and Kukuo – to move toward self-sufficiency.

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After identifying the beneficiaries - mainly women but also men - LDC trained them in sustainable agricultural methods and supplied them with irrigation systems, inputs such as seeds, fertilizers and pesticides, as well as chickens and animal feed to help improve and diversify nutrition.

Gambaga

Home only to women
100 project beneficiaries
Each one cultivating 1 ha of 3 main crops

Gnani

Home to both men and women
257 project beneficiaries (180 women and 77 men)
Each one cultivating 1 ha of 3 main crops

Kukuo

Home to both men and women
400 project beneficiaries (250 women and 150 men)
Each one cultivating 1 ha of 3 main crops

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Backed by local authorities, the project was carried out in four phases and reached a total of 757 farmers across the three villages. When the project ended in 2017, the average farm yield had increased by 150%, with attendant benefits for the farmers and their families.

“Not only do I have enough to feed myself now, I can earn extra money by selling my surplus food and I cover my other basic needs,” says Azara Nabor, resident of Gambaga.

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And in an unforeseen additional benefit to the local environment, improved agricultural practices led to fewer bush fires.

Key facts

  • 757 farmers involved (534 women and 223 men)
  • 2,800 direct and indirect beneficiaries
  • 7,570 chickens supplied
  • 276% maize yield increase
  • 74% soy/cowpea yield increase
  • 114% millet yield increase

 

For such a project to be a true success, it is critical that it lives beyond its end date and that its benefits extend beyond its completion.

“In this unique initiative to support sustainable farming in the ‘witch camps’ of northern Ghana, this is exactly what has happened,” explains Robert Serpollet, General Manager of the Louis Dreyfus Foundation.

“The project is an example of true sustainability. Even after being weaned off the support they received through the project, the beneficiaries are still farming to this day, which indicates self-sufficiency. Promoting sustainable agriculture in the pursuit of food security and self-sufficiency is the main focus of our activities.”

Through these positive results, the project contributed to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal n°2: Zero Hunger, which aims to achieve food security and improved nutrition through sustainable agriculture.

By 2030, double the agricultural productivity and incomes of small-scale food producers, in particular women, indigenous peoples, family farmers, pastoralists and fishers, including through secure and equal access to land, other productive resources and inputs, knowledge, financial services, markets and opportunities for value addition and non-farm employment.

© 2019 Louis Dreyfus Company