The Defence for Children International (DCI) Ghana, a non-governmental organization, is spearheading an 18-month project targeted at promoting the welfare of the adolescent child.
The project, dubbed: “Safe and Protective Environment for Adolescent Development (SPREAD)”, is supported by the UNICEF, and being implemented in three selected districts in the Ashanti Region – Adansi South, Bosome Freho and Amansie Central.
Dr. George Oppong, the Director for DCI Ghana, speaking at a stakeholders’ advocacy meeting which coincided with its official launch at Jacobu, in the Amansie Central, said the issues of adolescents needed to be taken seriously to assure the nation of disciplined, healthy and responsible adults.
The project, he said, would build capacities of adolescents, communities and duty bearers to create the right environment that promoted adolescent sexual and reproductive health.
It was also supporting child protection, prevention and respond to sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) concerns, address child commercial sexual exploitation and deal with issues of transactional sex involving adolescent girls.
Dr. Oppong told the stakeholders that DCI was going to use a community-based intervention approach.
DCI-Ghana, would be working with partners such as the Department of Social Welfare, the Domestic Violence and Victim Support Unit (DOVVSU) and the District Coordinating teams in skills building for adolescent boys and girls.
There was also going to be direct service provision, engagement with family, community members and leaders, as well as girls’ referrals to other service providers.
As a UNICEF supported project, the use of existing tools, resources and information, education and communication materials produced by the UNICEF and other partners would be recommended.
His organization was going to promote and protect the rights of child victims, and survivors of abuse and exploitation, through its socio-legal defence centers and psychological counselling approach.
He spoke about the creation of a database, deliberately targeted at adolescent girls in mining sites – more vulnerable to sexual violence and adolescent sexual and reproductive health, and reaching out to them with support interventions.
Nana Kwame Asamoah Boateng, the District Chief Executive (DCE) for Amansie Central, pledged to give strong support to the project, to ensure its successful implementation in the area.
The district has quite a high rate of teenage pregnancy cases and that is why the project is seen as a timely intervention.