How young people’s fortitude created a strong post-pandemic socio-economic system in Ghana

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Timothy Dziedzom Amaglo-Mensah is the winner of the 2021 Blog4Dev competition for Ghana
Timothy Dziedzom Amaglo-Mensah is the winner of the 2021 Blog4Dev competition for Ghana

This is one of 38 winning blogs from the 2021 Blog4Dev competition, the World Bank Africa annual writing contest, inviting young people to weigh in on a topic critical to their country’s economic development.

Blog4Dev winners responded to the question: How can young people work with their governments and civil society organizations to respond to the impact of COVID-19 and build a stronger post-pandemic economic and social system?

It is March 2030, 10 years since the global COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic was first confirmed in Ghana. I am sitting with the popular television show host, Aseye, in the ultra-modern studios of Youth Transforming Africa TV to talk about the handiwork of the youth during the period which optimized socioeconomic gains in Ghana.

Cameras have rolled and the lights are on.

Aseye: You’re welcome Dziedzom to YTA TV. It’s an honor to have you with us today. So, tell me, what happened?

Dziedzom: {Smiles} Thank you Aseye for having me. {Sighs} In Ghana, the impact of the COVID-19 was dire, but for the youth, it was torn in flesh. Many were out-of-school, spiraling job losses, facing food insecurity, increased inequality gaps, and more prevalent cases of sexual violence and mental health crises. Plagued with COVID-19-related challenges caused by its corollary effects, the Ghanaian youth showed grit in the face of incredible growth declines.

Here’s how:

• Education: With the power of social media and additional digital platforms, the youth began the phase by fighting fake news and bursting myths that were widely peddled. By leveraging the visibility of the youth on social media, and partnering with radio stations, youth health workers volunteered expert advice, created awareness, and increased sensitization in communities. This reduced the stigma, anxiety, and apathy associated with the virus.

• Innovation: At the peak of the pandemic, the youth showed up again with various resourceful ideas and inventions to help curb the spread and those infected. Some of these inventions included the automated Veronica bucket, a rapid diagnostics test kit, and the locally made ventilators built by students of KNUST. Through innovative digital financial platforms made by the youth, they managed to build a cashless economy.

• Advocacy and support systems: A network of young people evolved—devoid of ethnic and religious preferences and political party affiliations. Young people like myself began forming a coalition of activists championing mental health support to many out-of-school children, especially girls. The sole aim was to work in tandem as a team with great synergy to help the disadvantaged and close the inequality gap. A lot of abused girls were given aid. By nationwide youth crowdfunding and volunteering, food items and PPE’s got to the nooks and crannies of Ghana. Organizations like the FCA experience, a youth-led fashion agency, did a one million mask project for rural communities to augment the government’s efforts.

• Agriculture: There were food shortages countrywide. Jobless youth ventured their energies into agriculture. By championing the popular hashtag #operationfeedyourselfandyourneighbours which sparked the trend of backyard farming, there was an abundance of food and increased food security.

Today, I vividly remember the song “We are going (our hope song)” by one of Ghana’s biggest music export to the world, Osibisa. I can confidently say “the road was hard, muddy, and rough, but we got there,” due to the fortitude of the youth.

Aseye: This is awesome, Dziedzom! Thank you for coming.

Timothy D. Amaglo-Mensah is the winner of the Blog4Dev 2021 competition from Ghana. See the full list of 2021 Blog4Dev winners here, and read their blog posts.

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