The Youth Harvest Foundation Ghana (YHFG), a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) has launched a new project dubbed “Youth4Change Project” to empower out-of-school young people to make informed decisions on early and forced marriages.
The one-year project launched at the Kongo Community in the Nabdam District of the Upper East with funding from the Goal Keeper Accelerator Fund, intends to equip the young people with the needed information and skills to enable them make informed decisions to help address unintended Pregnancies and Child or Forced Marriages.
Speaking at the launch of the project, Ms Priscilla Nyaaba, the Acting Executive Director of YHFG, disclosed that demographic and health survey indicated that 16 percent of girls aged between 15 and 19 years in Ghana had begun having children.
The Acting Executive Director, who stated that the Upper East Region was not exempted from the phenomenon, noted that the Nabdam District was one of the hardest hit when it comes to teenage pregnancies, child or forced marriages with scores of the girls mostly between 14 and 15 years becoming pregnant and dropping out of school as well as living with men as husbands.
The Acting Executive Director noted that teenage pregnancy was both the cause and the consequences of child marriage and expressed worry that many teenagers who become pregnant are often given out by their parents in marriage to men and boys who impregnate them.
Ms Nyaaba stressed that the 1992 constitution frowns on giving out a girl under the age of 18 for marriage and also attributed the cause of the phenomenon partly to the limited sexual and reproductive health education.
She stated that as part of their contribution to complement government’s efforts at addressing the problem, her outfit with funding from the Goal Keeper Accelerator Fund decided to launch the Youth4Change Project in the District.
She stated the Youth4Change Project would augment the Ending of the Early Child Marriage Initiative introduced by the Government and called on development partners such as Civil Society Organizations, Media, Children, and Traditional and Religious bodies to join the forces in eliminating the canker.
She stated that the Youth4Change Project which is being piloted at the Dasabligo, Kongo, Nangodi, Pelingu and Sakoti communities in the District could be scaled up depending on how stakeholders support its implementation.
Mr Timothy Naasal, the District Director of Education, in a speech read for him expressed worry about the spate of teenage pregnancies and child marriages in the area.
He expressed optimism that with the intervention of the YHFG and other partners including Afrikids Ghana, the problem could be reduced drastically in the near future, and reiterated the need for parents and other stakeholders to support to fight the canker.
Mrs Agnes Anamoo, the District Chief Executive for the area, lauded the NGO and the funding agency for complementing government’s efforts at tackling the problem in the District.
The launching which brought together young people from the implementing communities, also attracted stakeholders including traditional authorities, Assembly members, District Directors of Education and Health, the Department of Social Welfare, the Police and the Media.
The Youth groups who have been trained by the project are expected to become ambassadors in their respective communities.