USING AN ACADEMIC BRAINPOOL TO IMPROVE THE LIFE SITUATION OF WOMEN IN NORTHERN GHANA

Interview with students of the Center for Agriculture in the Tropics and Subtropics of the University of Hohenheim who spend four months working with the Anoshe Women

The 4 students had been working for 4 months, from mid July to mid October 2014, in Sabab Lou’s Anoshe Women Project, in the Chereponi District in Northern Ghana. The inter-disciplinary project is geared to improve the productivity, and thus the life situation, of the 450 women of the Anoshe Women Group. It is intended to last over a period of 5 years. Each year a group of 4 students from the University of Hohenheim is being sent to the project. This year the second batch of students stayed and worked in the project, namely Elli Wahl originating from Germany, being engaged in crop sciences, Kwame Ansah Baffour originating from Ghana, being engaged in socio-economics, Adjogo Christian Bateki originating from Cameroon, being engaged in animal sciences and Ukeme Okon Archibong originating from Nigeria, being engaged in soil sciences. When we met for an interview, Archibong had already left for Germany.

Baffour, Elli and Christian saying Goodbye to the Anoshe Women

SL: What was your particular field of action/research regarding the project?
Baffour: I worked very close with Elli, focussing on whether certain techniques have a financial impact on productivity, respectively investment versus results.
Elli: I started a long term research on different crop enhancing methods with immediate and long term effect on productivity. Practically I had 15 demo fields in 3 of the 5 villages.
Christian: Based on the data of last year, I had to compile information on life stocks, feeding methods, breeding and health aspects. I did research on whether sustainable life stock production is creating income.

SL: What did strike you most?
Elli: The open and warm hearted interaction with the women.
Baffour: The difference in society and habits in the north of Ghana.
Christian: I always felt safe and welcome. We very much learned from each other, the interdisciplinary aspect of our research was enhancing our efforts.

SL: What do you personally take out of the project?
Baffour: To look more precisely on the life situation in my own country.
Christian: I learned a lot about the potential in the agricultural sector. I wish to give something back to my own country (Cameroon).
Elli: To keep an open mind also in difficult life situations.

Fieldwork: Edith, Nicholas, head of the Anoshe Women Group, and Baffour

SL: What is your wish for Anoshe Women Group?
In discussion together: The structure of Anoshe Women Group is good, but there are issues to improve. The women are still fragile and they need support. You have to guide them and take them along, accompany them. The women feel the responsibility for their family and their kids more. They are in emotional pain if they cannot pay for their school. There is a say: a foolish son is the disgrace to a mother, but a wise son is the pride of a father.

SL: Is the project set up in the right way by structure and time?
Christian: I like the holistic aspect of the project, we gain a lot from each other.
Elli: Coming here I realised what I don’t know, so learning from each other was a great experience.
Baffour: Four temperaments of different cultural backgrounds enriched the research and the personal experience.
Elli: I think we have been very lucky to work so harmoniously together. I am almost afraid of leaving our group.
Christian: Yes, me too. We actually never quarrelled, not even once.

SL: So, the interdisciplinary aspect should remain, and also the time for practical research?
Unanimously: Yes. Thanks to Sabab Lou this project was perfect for us.

Elli surrounded by community agent Akor and his family

Your group was indeed very special. The dynamic, selfless and harmonic spirit was felt by everyone. Everyone loved to work together with you, the women, the community agents, they all loved you. You had a wonderful and strengthening impact on the project. Thank you!

 

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