The Akwaduro community in Ghana’s Ahafo region has recently established a Junior High School (JHS) that focuses on educating local youth on climate issues, with funding from an agroforestry initiative. It was recognised that there was a need to involve the communities whose lives are most affected by climate change, i.e. those who depend directly on local forestry and wildlife for their income.

They hope that by working with key communities, they can harness the knowledge of local people to find more effective solutions to climate change. Forests, water, energy, local wildlife and agriculture are all greatly affected by changing climate conditions. Therefore, taking action to improve the climate situation by developing and implementing more environmentally sustainable solutions is beneficial for both local communities and the planet as a whole.

Changes to the planet do not happen overnight, but by working with initiatives to implement measures to reduce climate impacts, communities can gain immediate benefits through additional social benefits.

We didn’t have a Junior High School. So, since we started this agroforestry project, our income has improved, and we made contributions into a Village Saving & Loans Scheme and then invested some in putting up the JHS. We also received other community donations and the government will be adopting the school soon.

Osei Poku, Chairman of the Parent Teacher Association (PTA) at Akwaduro

The Akwaduro community is involved in a local initiative that aims to help communities grow economic trees with food and crops both in and outside forest reserves. The initiative is being implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) together with the Ghana Cocoa Board and Mondelez International.

In the past, Osei said, children from the Akwaduro community had to walk 3 kilometres to neighbouring towns to attend JHS – a challenge that is no longer an issue. The children in these important communities now have the opportunity to learn about the environment and how to better care for it. They can also develop and practise the unique skills and perspectives needed to restore the degraded forests on the ground.

In this way, they not only contribute to their local communities and the environment but can also achieve immediate benefits to improve the quality of life.

As a mother, I can say I am happy. Proceeds from the farm have helped me build a house, bought land in the city, and above all, I am able to look after my children in the school. I am happy to say that my first born has completed a Technical University and is now working in Canada.

Naomi Nkansah, a beneficiary of the project in Akwaduro

The members of the community have really done well with the JHS. We wrote a letter to the Ghana Education Service (GES), and they are very happy with the community action as this demonstrates partnership to complement the government’s efforts.

The GES is in the process of adopting the JHS.

Mr Kwesi Bio, Headmaster of the Akwaduro M/A School

With Ghana facing one of the fastest rates of deforestation in the world, while cocoa farmers are still struggling to earn a living wage, the agroforestry initiative aims to help reduce emissions while improving the livelihoods of the farming communities involved.

Indeed, community-driven initiatives impact people’s lives and thus contribute to efforts to protect the environment. It is good to see how this community is maximising the full social benefits of our forest restoration project to impact the next generation.

Stephen Kansuk, Head of Environment and Climate, UNDP Ghana

Photo by: Praise Nutakor/UNDP

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