Although Ghana has made tremendous progress against poverty in its rural communities over the past decade as the first country in Sub-Saharan Africa to attain the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of halving poverty, rural families in the northern regions continue to face substantial challenges to their livelihoods.

The Feed the Future Advancing Local Leadership, Innovation and Networks (ALL-IN) programme has just launched four research projects led from Ghana that test the impacts of existing rural development programmes, as well as their own innovations.

With support from USAID, these projects are creating new opportunities in Northern Ghana to improve their income, crop yields and family’s nutrition.

“These four projects are led by researchers who understand the context and culture on this continent and who are closely related to policy makers and understand the intricacies of policy,” said David Ameyaw, co-director of Feed the Future ALL-IN and president and CEO of the International Centre for Evaluation and Development.

One of these ALL-IN projects, led by Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA) Senior Lecturer, Dr. Charles Amoatey, is assessing the impact of the One Village, One Dam (1V1D) initiative is having on rural families in the northern regions.

1V1D was launched by the Government of Ghana in 2017 to support dry season gardening and livestock rearing as a means of improving food security, incomes and people’s wellbeing. GIMPA researchers have supported the Government of Ghana’s oversight on 1V1D since it establishment. This ALL-IN project will contribute to policy decisions related to scaling up the initiative.)

The project is also looking at an agricultural insurance designed to complement supplemental irrigation in 1V1D communities.

Led by John Kuwornu, a professor at the University of Energy and Natural Resources and Dean of its School of Graduate Studies, this project expands families’ overall drought protection.

While the dams provide supplemental irrigation, the insurance provides payments in the event of severe drought. Ghana Agricultural Insurance Pool (GAIP) is designing the index insurance product.

Women in Ghana contribute to about 80% of the nation’s Shea production but still receive low prices and low pay.

A research team led by Dr. Fred Dzanku, a senior research fellow from the Institute of Statistical, Social and Economic Research (ISSER) at the University of Ghana, is testing a package of training and financing to empower women producers to receive the full benefits of their work while increasing supply available for growing international markets for Shea products.

Since 2012, the USAID Resiliency in Northern Ghana (RING) project under the Feed the Future initiative has sought to improve the livelihoods and nutritional status of vulnerable rural families in the region.

Professor Robert Darko Osei, an associate professor in the Institute of Statistical, Social and Economic Research (ISSER), University of Ghana, leads a project that measures the impacts of the USAID RING project while also testing an innovative approach to reinforcing household nutrition using SMS text messages directly to families.

The four ALL-IN research teams in Ghana are using some of the most advanced statistical methods to measure the impacts these programs have on incomes, crop yields, health, nutrition, women’s empowerment and other outcomes.

 This tested evidence will show what kinds of programming truly have positive impacts as well as why.