NGO begins project to increase access to SRHR services in border communities 

The Rural Initiatives for Self-Empowerment Ghana (RISE-Ghana), an advocacy Non-Governmental Organisation, has begun a project to advance access to sexual and reproductive health services among adolescents.  The one-year project, which will focus on border communities during emergencies, is dubbed: “advancing adolescent sexual reproductive health rights within Sahel and other emergencies in Upper East.”   It seeks to advocate and engage stakeholders to increase adolescent and children’s access to sexual and reproductive health services, nutrition, and safeguarding services particularly in emergencies  With funding support from the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the intervention would identify, mobilise and empower influencers, gatekeepers, service providers and duty bearers in Bongo, Bawku West, and Kassena-Nankana West Districts to create protective environments for adolescents’ access to reproductive health services.  Speaking at Bongo, Ms Jaw-haratu Amadu, Head of Programmes, RISE-Ghana, explained that border communities continued to experience consequences of spillover from the Sahel region where sexual reproductive needs of young people continued to be in dire situations in those border areas.  She said the project would work with relevant stakeholders known as “Community of Practice” to plan and prioritize interventions to address the special needs of young people during emergencies including reproductive health, nutrition, and safeguarding issues. 

Prior to the commencement of the project, Ms Amadu indicated that, a rapid needs assessment which was conducted to ascertain the various challenges facing adolescents, revealed that many adolescents lacked accurate information on sexual and reproductive health rights and services.

“They lack information on how to take care of their menstrual needs, nutrition and the adults indicated the taste of adolescents has changed and they do not want indigenous foods, so we need to engage the adolescents to understand that the local foods are more nutritious than foreign foods,” she added.  The Community of Practice which included the Ghana Health Service, Ghana Education Service, National Disaster Management Organisation, traditional leaders, adolescents, social welfare, community members among others were launched to work together to address the needs of adolescents.  Mr John Agana, an Accountant at Bongo District NADMO, noted that often, people linked disasters to only the physical destruction of properties, but disasters went beyond that to affect the emotional wellbeing of people. 

He said the new intervention would contribute significantly to augmenting the work of NADMO to provide relief to people especially in the area of sexual and reproductive health and services to adolescents during disasters.  Pognaba Veronica Anaam, the Queen Mother for Namoo community, one of the border communities in the Bongo District lauded RISE-Ghana and UNICEF for the intervention and added that the effort would contribute to providing accurate sexual and reproductive health information to young people in the area and prevent them from indulging in risky behaviour.  She advocated for collective efforts from community stakeholders such as chiefs, assembly members and other opinion leaders to intensify education among young people in the community to help reduce teenage pregnancy, alcoholism, drug abuse among other vices. 

By Anthony Adongo Apubeo, GNA  Bongo (U/E)

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