Gold Coast: The Struggles Of Ghana

Ghana, officially called the Republic of Ghana, is a West-African country. It is a unitary constitutional country with a population of approximately 30 million.

Even after several years of independence, Ghana still faces uncountable problems in social, economic, and political spheres. The in depth outlook of pitiable plight of the citizens and marginalized groups will shake you to your core.

By the way, make sure you read our recent blog on Kenya where we discuss some amazing facts about this African sibling of Ghana.

Some key problems that Ghana faces today:

  • Exclusion of people with disabilities: Disabilities like malnutrition, environmental hazards, infectious diseases, motor and industrial accidents, civil conflict and war, have become widespread in Ghana, almost like an epidemic. Students and adults who become victims of these disabilities are excluded from school and denied opportunities to work. As a result, their only means to survive solely gets reduced to begging. Ghanaian society’s attitude towards persons with disability is generally negative and such persons encounter multiple forms of abuse, neglect and discrimination. These attitudes are driven by superstition, myths and other religious beliefs. Some religious groups believe that persons with mental disabilities are afflicted by demons and should be exorcised.
  • Absence of child welfare platforms and organization: As we discussed above, almost half the population suffers from disabilities with no fault of theirs. In order to help these victims transcend through their misery, several child and women welfare organisations are established. However, there organisations lack outreach, financial aid and support from the government. Child welfare social practitioners in Ghana encounter numerous challenges in their work with children and families. First and foremost, there appear to be a lack of clearly defined child welfare practice since there are no clear definitions as to what constitute child abuse and neglect in Ghanaian society. Certain physical and even emotional abuses of children that are not tolerated in the Western world, and may be grounds for the apprehension of children are acceptable in Ghanaian society. The issue of what constitutes neglect is even murkier as many orphaned, vulnerable, needy or neglected children are usually cared for by extended family members. Orphanages face problems like lack of professional staff, and overcrowding of children. The Ghana National HIV and AIDS report (2010) indicated that there were about one million and four hundred thousand orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) in 2009 and this number is expected to rise. If the issue of increasing numbers of orphans and vulnerable children in Ghana does not get addressed in time, it could become one of Africa’s silent ticking bombs.
  • Inadequate medical care services: Medical care is one of the most crucial services in a nation which if neglected, can cause serious irrevocably grave damage. Ghana faces an absence of institutionalized community care systems and skilled doctors. There is no or limited mental health care provision for patients suffering from mental illness as theirs is a lack of awareness amongst people. It might shock you to hear that the country has only three government or public psychiatric hospitals available for a population of about twenty-five million people! There is approximately one fully qualified psychiatrist per one million people in Ghana. The services offered by most self-proclaimed professionals may be harmful since these services are of different levels of quality and efficacy.
  • Conjugal Violence: Conjugal violence or intimate partner violence is referred to as physical, emotional, economic and sexual abuse against a spouse or partner. In Ghana, almost every woman is a victim of sexual abuse, psychological harm, domestic violence, and arbitrary deprivation of liberty. Children growing up in an abusive atmosphere acquire rage, emotional stability and aggressive behavior that further keeps this vicious cycle going. Even some Ghanaian traditional folktales narrate stories about men beating their wives to maintain law and order. Thus, various folk and high life songs accentuate themes that support male supremacy, which may encourage men to engage in violent acts, such as domestic violence.
  • Struggle to end illegal gold mines: Ghana is home to hundreds of gold mines that are unauthorised. These mines often exploit workers, harm the environment and are involved in practices like smuggling. Recently, a large amount of dirty waste water spilled over some of the forest’s vegetation. It came from a small gold mine that was operating without a government permit. Some mines even release harmful chemical wastes which not only contaminate the surroundings, but also drinking water!
  • Water Crisis: In Ghana, more than five million people rely on surface water to meet their daily water needs, leaving them vulnerable to water-borne illness and diseases. 81 percent of Ghana people lack access to improved sanitation or are entirely without toilet facilities. Despite continued positive economic growth, there remains a tremendous need for water and sanitation access in Ghana. Many households without access to safely managed water and sanitation services lack the upfront funds needed to invest in solutions such as household connections to piped water services or a toilet.
  • Forest Reserves are under attack: Ghana’s last remaining tracts of primary forest can only be found within areas which are granted official protection. However, even these are no longer immune to the advance of deforestation, with many hit hard by a surge of forest loss that began in April. Sources on the ground say that illegal logging was done at the hands of Ghanaian nationals as well as foreigners.

The bottom line is that Ghana still has a long way to go in terms of reaching social, political and economic stability.