A Climate Social Benefit: Schooling The Next Generation

A community in Ghana has supported a school with savings from an agroforestry initiative to educate their children.

The things that we depend on and value, including forests, water, energy, wildlife, and agriculture are experiencing the effects of a changing climate. This is impacting lives, particularly communities that directly depend on these resources. There is therefore the need to engage communities as key agents in addressing climate change to leverage indigenous knowledge for climate solutions. This is because implementing climate actions with equity does not only increase community resilience but also enables communities to derive extra social benefits.

“We didn’t have a Junior High School (JHS). So, since we started this agroforestry project, our income has improved, and we made contributions into a Village Saving & Loans Scheme and then invested some in putting up the JHS. We also received other community donations and the government will be adopting the school soon”, stated Osei Poku, Chairman of the Parent Teacher Association (PTA) at Akwaduro in the Asunafo North Municipal Assembly of the Ahafo Region of Ghana.

The Akwaduro community is one of the communities involved in a local climate initiative being implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), in partnership with the Ghana Cocoa Board and Mondelez International. The project supports the communities to intercrop economic trees with food and cash crops on and off forest reserves.

According to Osei, their children were walking three kilometers to attend JHS in neighboring towns and the distance was posing challenges. Besides the unique perspectives, skills, and a wealth of knowledge that the communities bring to the project to help achieve its goal of restoring degraded forest in the landscape, they are also gaining multiple benefits from caring for nature.

“As a mother, I can say am happy. Proceeds from the farm have helped me build a house, bought land in the city, and above all, I am able to look after my children in the school. I am happy to say that my firstborn has completed a Technical University and now working in Canada”, Naomi Nkansah, a project beneficiary in Akwaduro stated.

The Headmaster of the Akwaduro M/A School, Mr Kwesi Bio confirmed the community’s support of the school and eulogized their contribution.

“The members of the community have really done well with the JHS. We wrote a letter to the Ghana Education Service (GES), and they are very happy with the community action as this demonstrates partnership to complement government’s efforts. The GES is in the process of adopting the JHS”, Kwesi noted.

Ghana is said to be losing its rainforest faster than any other country in the world, and this is attributed mainly to illegal logging, agriculture practices, and illegal mining activities. The agroforestry initiative is to contribute to the country’s efforts to avert the looming climate crisis by reducing emissions while helping to improve livelihoods.

“Indeed, community-driven initiatives impact people’s lives and thus contribute to efforts to protect the environment. It is good to see how this community is maximizing the full social benefits of our forest restoration project to impact the next generation”, noted Stephen Kansuk, Head of Environment and Climate at UNDP Ghana.

It is important to engage all actors to take action for nature to build community resilience to climate change impacts. This way, we can bring about more social benefits for a sustainable world for everyone.