It’s been about a month or two since I finished up my traveling work and I’ve been settling into Navrongo ever since: finding a family to live with, running a workshop for supervisors, going to the field and learning about development projects and MoFA in the district, attending staff and management meetings, working on Agric as a Business sustainability with the director, supervisors and field staff, completing EWB work like report writing, planning/scheduling, communicating with EWB chapters in Canada, and the list goes on.
Here’s something I wrote but have yet to post on my work in the Northern Region:
Traveling around to 6 different districts in the Northern Region and interviewing and having discussions with 27 people working for the Ministry of Food and Agriculture was both discouraging and inspiring. First, it was discouraging because I heard first hand about all the large problems affecting people across the North of the country. Mainly, structural issues like fuel allowances that ministry staff depend on and need which were 3 or more months late. Can you imagine having to travel to rural communities as a core part of your job but not receiving any money to do so for 3 months or more? It seemed to affect everyone’s job and therefore small scale farmers, many who are living hand to mouth. Another issue that people talked about was mobility, some staff members who are supposed to go to rural communities to visit and interact with farmers don’t even have means of transportation and have to either ride bicycles long distances or borrow motorcycles from different people and fill up their tanks (of which they may only use a fraction then give the moto back). So field staff and supervisors appear to be underpaid, overworked, under resourced, and districts are even under-staffed leaving people to do the work of 2 people, and no matter how hard a person works and how quality of a job they do, they are paid the same as someone who is lazy and does very little work. And if the hard worker wants to get promoted the criteria she/he will be judged on is based on years of experience and education level, not necessarily the quality or quantity of work they do. So no systematic/structural incentives exist for hard workers and no systemic/structural sanctions exist for lazy/corrupt workers (apparently the worst that will happen is you will be transferred to a different district). So Directors can’t fire or hire or promote anyone because all the decisions are being made at the regional or mainly the national level.
After hearing about these SAME problems in every district with every field staff and almost every supervisor I talked with, I was feeling pretty de-motivated and disheartened, like what difference can I or EWB make in this environment? Then I met people who brought me right back up and instilled hope in me that Ghanaians will solve the problems facing Ghana. People who recognize the problems but still work hard to overcome them or work around them, who don’t just complain and let barriers prevent them from moving forward. A met one man named Prince in the rural district of Nanumba South. You could feel the sincerity in his words and see the passion he has to help his country, while his understanding of the issues facing his district amazed me. But what really stuck with me was how motivated he seemed among all the problems and challenged faced by the district. He’s driven to go back to school and get his degree (he’s currently working on a diploma) and in the past before joining the ministry he volunteered as a teacher for some years while farming on the side in order to make ends meet. It’s young passionate people like Prince who will bring about development and solve the problems of poverty, and I’m just fortunate enough to meet and work with some of them.