What We Do in Ghana
Our local partner, Freedom from Hunger/Ghana, became an independent organization in 1998. Freedom from Hunger and Freedom from Hunger/Ghana, along with 10 rural banks, formed the largest banking network in the country, serving nearly 21,000 poor women.
- Population: 20.8 million
- Area: 92, 456 sq. mi. (239,460 sq. km.)
- Languages: English (official), African languages (including Akan, Moshi-Dagomba, Ewe, and Ga)
- Religions: Christian 63%, Muslim 16%, indigenous beliefs 21%
- Average life expectancy at birth: 56 years
- Fertility rate: 3.17 children born/woman
- Population below poverty line: 31%
- Infant mortality rate: 52 deaths/1,000 live births
- Gross Domestic Product per capita: US $2,200
With a year-round average temperature of 28 degrees Celsius (85 F), Ghana is home to a dramatic tropical landscape. Villages are nestled within the dense rainforests and tropical savannas, and natural heritage continues to be an important part of daily life.
Although Ghana is slowly developing, several National Parks continue to protect the land from further exploitation. The two most famous are the rainforests of Kakum and the expansive savanna of Mole, home to the only National Park for large animals. However, Ghana’s dramatic scenery was not always an asset to the native Ashanti people.
Settlements along the Ghanaian coast are believed to date back approximately 40,000 years. Yet it was only during the late 15th century that European powers began arriving and Ghana’s recorded history began. The Portuguese were the first to arrive in the resource-rich land of Ghana. They were amazed to find that precious gold ore draped the Ashanti kings and in their lust for riches, quickly constructed forts and castles that were used as trading outposts for the exportation of ivory, gold, and other minerals. Recently, UNESCO recognized over 30 forts and castles that still line the Ghanaian coast as World Heritage Monuments.
Yet, despite its high price, it was soon discovered that gold was not Ghana’s most profitable commodity. During the slave trade approximately 10,000 slaves were shipped out of the country each year. The tragic slave trade had devastating effects on the local communities.
On March 2, 1957, Ghana—the name chosen by Nkrumah after the first great empire in West Africa—was the first African colony to claim independence. For Ghana, it was the beginning of almost 25 years of economic decline coupled with six corrupt and incompetent governments, five of them military.
Yet, despite its brutal history, Ghana retains a strong sense of culture and individuality. Although Ghana has the highest percentage of Christians in West Africa, the belief in traditional values is still extremely common. Cultural traditions and tribal life are very much an important aspect of Ghanaian life. Family ceremonies mark important events such as puberty, marriage and death, while spectacular tribal festivals take place during the celebration of particular seasons.
While Ghanaians are still a conservative people, their warmth, hospitality and eagerness to overcome a history of repression is astounding. Freedom from Hunger’s Credit with Education and Malaria Initiative equip women with knowledge and the means to act on that knowledge so they can safeguard their families’ health, better feed their children and improve their incomes.