Improving food security and building schools

project partner:ActionAid
funding period:1994-1996

summary: In 1992 the sight of a starving child dying in its mother's arms while waiting for medical assistance in Bawku, northern Ghana was the catalyst for Charlotte di Vita to found Trade plus Aid to create ethical employment and raise funds from the sale of handicrafts to assist the people of Bawku. The child's death was a result of impending famine due to drought, which left over 6000 local family farms in the region in ruins.

By 1994, after two successful trading years, Charlotte was able to donate 25,000 for food security and community-owned seed-credit programmes to assist 6,472 farmers, 4,062 of which were women. For the latest information on the Bawku Seed Credit, click here.

These farmers received ground nut and sorghum seed, allowing them to grow the area's staple diet to feed over 25,000 individuals in Bawku. The farmers were also trained in dry-season onion growing, in order to provide a regular, year-round income and alley-cropping and organic composting, in order to improve soil stability and nutrition. Demonstration farms were established to show how topsoil erosion could be reduced and how higher yielding crops could reduce the "hungry season". In addition, 3000 seedlings were distributed to 600 farmers to plant trees, like mango and cashew, for economic reasons, and acacia for construction and also to provide an important source of income, food and medicine as well as creating shade and supporting water and soil conservation.

In 1995/6 Trade plus Aid also helped the children of Bawku by donating 10,869 to fund the building of 3 schools, allowing 1100 children who did not have access to schooling, the chance of an education and a more secure future.

The project renovated 2 abandoned and dilapidated school buildings in Zebilla Town and built 2 schools in Salpiga and Agaogo, remote communities where Charlotte wanted to provide schooling to the children who work on their families' farms or as shepherds by day and so cannot attend regular schools. For more information on this project, click here.

Trade plus Aid also paid for the training of 37 teachers, the development of a relevant local curriculum and the provision of educational materials such as teachers' handbooks, educational posters and teaching aids for mathematics, English and basic science.

The food security projects were jointly funded by Trade plus Aid and the British Government (through the ODA, now DfID), who agreed to match the funds invested by Trade plus Aid. Trade plus Aid chose ActionAid, one of the UK's leading development charities, to implement all of the projects because of its excellent reputation and experience in Ghana. ActionAid had been working in Bawku since 1990. ActionAid's programmes are "integrated" and so tend to include agriculture, health, water, adult and child literacy, and savings and credit schemes, in order to tackle the multi-faceted root causes of poverty.

For more information on the work of ActionAid visit

"All in all, we have benefited a lot from the many ways we have worked together with you. We hope that future generations will be proud and build on what we have started with you."
- Ayonde Ayagiba, a woman from Sapeliga.

"There's a lot of information going around today which could help us to live a more meaningful life but we are shut off completely from most of it. We feel like blind women. We have to depend on someone who can read and write to lead us. We don't know where we are going and our children should not find themselves in this same situation."
- A local woman from Zebilla, explaining why the schools project was so important to the community.