Some chiefs from five communities of the Builsa South district of the Upper East Region have pledged their commitment to the fight against teenage pregnancies and child marriages in their various communities. 

The chiefs made the commitments after Youth Harvest Foundation Ghana (YHFG), a youth-focused Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) launched the “Safe and Protective Environment for Adolescent Development” (SPREAD) project, in the communities. 

Under the project funded by UNICEF, YHFG seeks to build the capacities of adolescents and communities (including their structures and duty bearers) to create an enabling environment that supports child protection, prevents early and forced child marriages and teenage pregnancies.

The project which has already begun in the Nabdam and Talensi districts, also seeks to prevent and respond to sexual and gender-based violence.

The SPREAD project is being implemented in 30 communities in six districts namely; Builsa South, Bongo, Talensi, Nabdam, Bawku West, and Kassena-Nankana West. 

At the Builsa South district launch of the SPREAD project, chiefs of the Wiesi-Yipala, Wiesi-Guuta, Naadema, Gbedema-kunkuk and Kanjarga-kuyinsa communities pledged their commitment to success of the project.

The chiefs say the five communities are direct beneficiaries of the project and it was their duty as chiefs to ensure that the SPREAD project succeeds, to help end teenage pregnancies and child marriages and also promote girl child education in the area.  

The chief of the Kanjaga-Kuyinsa community, Kanbonaa Akanvariba Ayomah charged parents to desist from either forcing or allowing their teenagers to marry at such young ages. 

“There is no pride in teenage motherhood. We didn’t know it in the past but now we have all been educated that teenage pregnancy can result in maternal complications and poverty”, he said.

 Kanbonaa Akanvariba Ayomah added, “we are all witnesses of the level of poverty here in Kuyinsa. So, I implore you to join us support YHFG, to end teenage pregnancy and child marriage in our community. I am not educated but I want to see every child in this community educated”.  

Adding his voice, chief of the Gbedema-Kunkuk community, Asanpan Baba said, “we are fortunate to have such an amazing intervention here. This will help keep our girls in school. Therefore, we pledge our support to the campaign to end child marriages in Gbedema-kunkuk community.

Youth Harvest Foundation Ghana had early on, trained and equipped 10 selected adolescents as Youth Ambassadors to help in the implementation of the SPREAD Project in the Builsa South.   

The launch of the SPREAD project was therefore used as a platform, to further introduce the youth ambassadors to the communities and seek their support. 

The project team took the opportunity to appeal to the traditional leaders and community members to observe all the safety protocols and directives by the government on Covid-19. 

The Project Officer at YHFG, Albert Apotele Nyaaba urged community leaders to work together to reduce teenage pregnancies, sexual and gender-based violence and end child marriages.

He said these were detrimental to the growth and development of the adolescents.  

“Parents need to support their children with basic reproductive health education. When these girls are empowered, it will help prevent teenage pregnancies, child marriage, STIs as well as sexual and gender-based violence in our communities” he said’