A bridge building project is boosting incomes and strengthening adaptation to climate change in Ghana

  • February 08, 2022

  • Yibaw, Ghana

A Cash for Work programme in Ghana is creating green opportunities for self-starters like pig-farmer and barber Collins Quayson from Yabiw in Western Region of Ghana. Alongside 55 others from his community he’s signed up for a job building a much-needed flood resistant bridge. It’s a double win for 33-year-old Mr. Quayson, who plans to use his wages to invest in the two small businesses he runs, a piggery and a barber shop.

Everyday Mr. Quayson wakes up early, mucks out his piggery and ensures the animals are fed before opening up his barber shop. He was forced to drop out of school to bring in an income for his family. His hard work means he is now the family’s main breadwinner and carries many responsibilities on his shoulders.

“The road was not good for us [...] the cars cannot pass so we have to [construct] the bridge for the cars to pass well,” said Mr. Quayson as construction continues around him, adding: “I’m the one who gives the mortar to the workers on the bridge.”

The community comes together to build a bridge that is resilient to climate change

A community building project

The Cash for Work programme is being implemented by the Boosting Green Employment and Enterprise Opportunities in Ghana, or GrEEn project, which is funded by the European Union. With technical support from the UN Capital Development Fund, GrEEn is rolling out the Local Climate Adaptive Living (LoCAL).

The GrEEN project is applying LoCAL’s innovative Performance Based Climate Resilience Grants to channel finance to communities like Mr. Quayson’s for locally identified adaptation and resilience-building projects – in this instance a flood resistant and future-proofed bridge.

The local government consulted with Yabiw residents and, with support from UNCDF, began organizing the bridge construction and enrollment of workers from the community. Interested residents can sign up to work on the project and in return they receive a competitive daily wage. UNCDF is overseeing the project, ensuring that the investment is climate resilient and providing participants with training and skills development, such as on accessing financial services.

Some six communities are using the Cash for Work approach in Ghana, with about 500 people expected to take part across Western and Ashanti Regions. A similar UNCDF project has produced good results in another West African country, The Gambia.

Ghana, like many developing countries in the tropical zone of West Africa is already experiencing climate change impacts that include unpredictable rainfall patterns, rising temperatures and the increased frequency of extreme weather events such as floods.

The GrEEn Project is a holistic approach to advancing long-term sustainable development that seeks to address the root causes of irregular migration and is funded by the European Union. The objective of GrEEn is to create local financial ecosystems that can incubate and sustain Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) and enable the transition of local economies to green and climate resilient development.

Beneficiaries of the CfW initiative like Mr. Quayson earn a daily wage of about $2, while providing low-skilled labour for the construction of climate resilient infrastructure which directly benefits himself and the people in his community.

As part of the Cash for Work opportunities, the beneficiaries will also receive practical training to boost their entrepreneurship and skills. The Cash for Work initiative has proven popular in all implementing communities. About 20 percent of applicants who apply and are screened through a questionnaire and interview process make it to the final stage where they receive support through coaching and mentoring as well as job placement opportunities from UNCDF’s co-lead on the GrEEn project in Ghana SNV, through their Opportunities for Youth Employment (OYE) programme.

In addition, UNCDF will provide participants to the Cash for Work initiative with the tools they need to set up and grow a small business, such as access to saving services, financial education and access to finance. Through collaborations with banks and institutions offering loans and financial assistance to Small Medium Size Enterprises (SMEs), UNCDF has made it possible for Mr. Quayson to apply for loans at minimal interest rates, with flexible payment terms and minimal requirements for identification and verification documents which many people in remote areas do not have.

“This Cash for Work project provides an opportunity to invest not only in the long-term needs of the communities, but also in the needs of the individuals themselves,” said UNCDF Technical Specialist, Angela Yayra Kwashie. “Sustainable development in Ghana has to be adapted to the realities of climate change, which is already impacting the lives and livelihoods of the Ghanaian population.”

LoCAL in Ghana

LoCAL in Ghana combines performance-based climate resilience grants (PBCRGs) with technical and building capacity support to ensure climate change adaptation is mainstreamed into government’s planning and budgeting systems, and to increase awareness and response to climate change at the local level.The GrEEn Project is rolling out the LoCAL Facility Phase II.

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