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Location: Ghana

Improving youth participation in public policymaking


The 2010 National Youth Policy of Ghana acknowledges the need for policies that empower young people to effectively participate in the national development agenda. A review of the National Youth Policy has been scheduled for 2016 – 2017.


Youth Empowerment Synergy (YES Ghana) are improving youth participation in public policy making by training young people to advocate for an improved National Youth Policy. This project will take advantage of the upcoming review to strengthen leadership structures in youth organisations, increase youth participation in the political space, and galvanise broad-based youth research for input into policy formulation. This will be achieved by expanding the membership and building the capacity of youth organisations to engage with politicians at local and national levels.It is expected that the project will lead to the improved articulation of youth issues, perspectives and policy recommendations by the Ghanaian youth, and empower young women and men by giving them the platform to speak, be heard and engage.

“Over the next three years, we hope to benefit extensively from the experience and technical capacity of the Commonwealth Foundation and work closely with other partners to improve the profile of young people as capable actors able to contribute positively to the development of our nation”, Emmanuel Edudzie, Executive Director of Youth Empowerment Synergy.

Youth Empowerment Synergy (YES Ghana)

YES Ghana is a national youth organisation established in 2001. It works to promote a sustainable and productive future for all young people in the country. It delivers programmes in the three key areas of youth participation and active citizenship, youth employment and livelihoods generation and youth policy and governance. YES-Ghana implements these programmes by facilitating access to youth-inclusive financial services, building coalitions of youth organisations and advocating for pro-youth empowerment policies. YES-Ghana actively engages with the National Youth Authority, the main government agency responsible for youth development.

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The Voices of Youth coalition is a national platform for youth to input into the national development agenda. It comprises over 300 youth groups reaching over 500,000 young people across Ghana. Yes Ghana acts as convenor and provides secretariat support to the coalition.


Strengthening West African civil society engagement

A strong West African civil society will contribute meaningfully to the successful design and implementation of development policies.

However, CSOs in West Africa are operating with serious challenges, some of which include, low capacity to carry out their mandate fully, the lack of recognition and respect from governments and the unavailability of financial resources to develop innovative approaches to regional development challenges.

This project aims to strengthen West African civil society through the West African Civil Society Forum (WACSOF) and to secure WACSOF’s place at the core of development in the region by creating a path towards political renewal and the deepening of democracy. The project is implemented in partnership with the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI) and WACSOF.

WACSOF is the official interface for West African civil society with the ECOWAS Commission in promoting regional development and integration in West Africa. The Forum’s purpose is to galvanize civil society and facilitate constructive partnership with state authorities, political parties and ECOWAS. However, a needs assessment conducted by WACSI in 2008 and in 2014 identified a number of challenges preventing it from achieving its mandate to facilitate civil society voice in addressing regional development challenges/priorities.

The project consists of three main components:

  • capacity development of WACSOF and its members; 
  • development of a regional agenda and action plan identifying major development challenges for West Africa
  • improved engagement between West African CSOs and ECOWAS


Eradicating the spirit child phenomenon


The Spirit Child Phenomenon (SCP) is still a problem in northern Ghana’s Bongo region, where traditional soothsayers label certain disadvantaged children as messengers of bad luck, leaving them at risk of being killed by traditional healers known as concoction men.


AfriKids is looking at issues surrounding SCP in order to address how to drive down the problem. The organisation will provide the education, incentives and stakeholder engagement to embed the cultural and technical change into the affected communities that will help to eradicate the phenomenon.

Training and awareness campaigns on child rights and healthcare will be run in local communities. Technical and financial support will also be provided for the concoction men and for families and women’s groups, while there will also be greater engagement  between the various community groups and government health and education facilities for children associated with SCP. This culturally sensitive project will also focus on empowering women within the affected communities, helping them to work directly with key male decision makers.

AfriKids has already eradicated the practice in the Kassena Nankana district. It is hoped that the work to embed this change in communities in Bongo will result in it becoming a sustainable operation of continuous education and information that will help to make SCP a phenomenon of the past.

The Honourable Nana Oyer Lithur, Ghana’s Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection, said that the work has been transformative.

“I would like to use this opportunity to commend AfriKids Ghana for the extensive work on the subject of the “Spirit Children” in the Kassena-Nankana East and West Districts of the region,” he explained. “We are happy to hear that the practice of killing spirit children no longer exists in these districts. What is even more significant is the involvement of the practitioners of the tradition known as concoction men in the solution process”.

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Strengthening the PEN Africa network for civil society engagement


The pen and the written word are powerful tools for upholding free expression, cultural rights and democratic governance. Through creative expression, Commonwealth citizens have the ability to advocate for the legislation that underpins these rights.


PEN International (founded 1921) is a global community of writers, who work to promote literature and defend freedom of expression. The organisation will target measures to build capacity, skills and knowledge in order to advocate in favor of freedom of expression. Local PEN Centres will participate in policy training to help with advocacy work on local, regional and international levels and a three-year advocacy strategy will map out plans to engage with regional-level forums such as the Africa Commission on Human Rights. 

This work will serve to leverage the voice and influence of PEN Africa Network members in Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria, South Africa and Zambia. PEN members will gain greater understanding of areas including freedom of expression and digital freedom, cultural and linguistic rights and quality education. It will help to empower not just them but the people with whom they work and future generations of writers, journalists and advocates.

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Supporting women farmers to withstand environmental shocks


Environmental change is fueling poverty in remote areas of Ghana, impacting badly on women farmers, with poor yields and low incomes. Many women are unable to mitigate the environmental effects, nor do they have access to local authorities who could help them address these issues.


Friends of the Earth – Ghana is encouraging collaboration between women’s groups and local authorities to work together to address environmental and livelihood concerns, contributing to sustainable development in Ghana. This Commonwealth Foundation grant will facilitate the collaboration of 250 women subsistence farmers and four NGOs working on environmental and agricultural issues across three rural districts.

Ultimately the project will be scaled up and replicated to benefit a larger group of farmers, helping them to adopt ecological agricultural practices, re-greening and restoring depleted land and water resources.

This project aims to close the gap between remote rural communities and relevant policy makers, enabling women farmers particularly, to talk to local authorities about environmental change and strengthening their ability to engage in participatory governance.

Friends of the Earth Ghana

Friends of the Earth – Ghana is part of a worldwide international network of environmental organisations in 60 countries.

It focuses on environmental, social and economic issues working to bring about sustainable and socially equitable development through community participation. Friends of the Earth recognises that only projects fully accounting for the diversity of cultures, needs and aspirations of communities will gain their full support and be successful in the long term. The organisation has a rich experience of working in the environment and climate change sector in Ghana.

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Promoting cultural industries through multi-stakeholder participation


Challenges such as low levels of professionalism among artists and operators in the sector; the lack of recognition and statutory regulation of the cultural professions; limited institutional capacity within the Ministry of Culture; underuse of the potential of the country’s cultural diversity; and the lack of social protection for cultural practitioners are all being addressed.


The Centre for Ewe Language and Cultural Research (CEFOELAC) is developing a plan to guide  the country’s cultural development stakeholders in their work, as well as increase collaboration between the state and civil society groups working to promote the cultural industries in Ghana.

Centre for Ewe Language and Cultural Research (CEFOELAC)

Since 2000, the Centre for Ewe Language and Cultural Research has been advocating for the use of culture in development in Ghana.

It has worked with the Ministry of Culture to develop a curriculum of study on culture and development in tertiary institutions. In addition to having close ties and collaborating with local and international organisations on cultural issues, the centre is also a member of the local network of cultural practitioners that organised the first ever culture and arts competition in the Volta region of Ghana.