Traditional authorities in the Konkou and Kakosi communities in the East Gonja Municipality have presented certificates to some women shea collectors signifying the formal transfer of ownership of 40 acres of shea parklands to them.
The certificates, which were presented to the women, who are members of the Salaga Movement of Shea Collectors (MoSC), at the palace of the Paramount Chief of Kpembe Traditional Area in the Municipality in the Savannah Region, guaranteed the women full rights to enter the land to pick shea for sale as well as other livelihood activities.
The presentation of the certificates to the women followed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between the women groups and the traditional authorities early this year, and the certificates were further evidence backing the MoU.
The MoU was facilitated by Development Frontiers (DF), a member organization of Shea Network Ghana (SNG), both NGOs, on the Gender Exclusion and Social Inclusion (GESI) Shea Project dubbed: “Improving Marginalized Women’s Rights to Access and Control Shea Parklands to Guarantee Long Term Sustainable Investment.”
The GESI Shea Project is being implemented by SNG as a lead organization in 12 districts with DF as an implementing partner-in-charge of direct implementation at Karaga, Mion, Kasena-Nankana West Districts and East Gonja Municipality with funding from STAR-Ghana and supported by DANIDA, Department for International Development and Christian Aid.
The project sought to address elements of discrimination affecting access to naturally growing trees which should be available for all to access and invest in, as well as to include marginalized women and excluded social groups into long term decision making on shea resources and parklands management for sustainable investment.
Madam Grace Ayijunu, Acting Chief Executive Officer of DF, who spoke during the presentation of the certificates to the women at Kpembe, said the purpose for securing the parklands was to enable unmarried, marginalized, non-indigenes and the landless to have access to parklands to manage and pick shea.
The ceremony to present the certificates to the women was the climax of the implementation of the GESI Project.
Madam Ayijunu explained that “Previously if a woman was not married or even a settler, the woman could not pick shea from a married man’s land. Such was the case with the settlers and non-indigenes.”
She said so far, the project achieved the allocation of 174 acres of parklands from 20 traditional authorities in the four Assemblies including Karaga, Mion, Kasena- Nankana West, and East Gonja.
Kpembe Wura Babanye Ndefosu (II) Paramount Chief of Kpembe Traditional Area commended the sub-chiefs for donating their lands to the women, which he said would help to improve their livelihoods.
Kpembe Wura Ndefosu (II) encouraged DF to do more to build the capacity of the women, saying the development would be realised when the capacities of rural women were developed to engage in livelihood activities.
Madam Gado Abukari, President of MoSC in East Gonja Municipality, spoke about the impact of the GESI Shea Project on the lives of the women saying “All the children of the group members are now enrolled in school, because we pick the nuts, sell and support in paying their fees.”
Madam Abukari added that they also benefited from a Village Savings and Loans Association (VSLA) initiative saying “Initially, we did not know that we could make contributions out of our small incomes. Since the implementation of this project, we have since been introduced to VSLA, making contributions weekly and can even take loans from it at a flexible payment and interest rate.”
Madam Sala Mohammed, Secretary of the MoSC said “Women, who initially could not have access to shea trees to pick nuts because they are not married, now pick shea from the parklands given them by their chiefs.”