Surviving the Sun in Accra

My Adventures Living & Working Abroad in Ghana

Knee Deep in Research & Report Writing

Another two weeks since my last blog post has passed, and reflecting on that time, it’s nearly impossible to sum it up in just one small entry. Regardless, this is my attempt and I figured since most of you have been wondering what I have been working on here for my internship, I figured now was as good as ever to explain it.


As I mentioned earlier in another post, my internship is at the Ghana Commission for Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ). CHRAJ was set up independently from the government of Ghana as a resource to enforce the human rights of the population and fight corruption in government organizations. Their funding is provided by the Danish government and their mandate allows them to fight high profile cases against the state where human rights violations or corruption exist, while also defending the rights of the common community.


I spent the first two weeks in the Complaints Unit where all statements concerning violations of human rights or administrative corruption must first be brought. In this unit was able to experience a great deal of the legislature and grasp a preliminary understanding of some of the many social problems faced by the people everyday. I was able to hear first hand encounters of cases ranging from domestic violence to labour rights. The majority of the employees at CHRAJ are lawyers which leaves a geographer like me a bit of a misfit, but I’m really enjoying the opportunity to learn more about Ghanaian law from the people who know it best.


Since then I have established a more formal position at the Commission and during my stay here, I will be working in the Women and Children’s Unit concentrating primarily on children’s rights. Last night I finished my first major project for CHRAJ which was a report written with the intention to influence state policy concerning the incidence of child labour in the country. Although prior to this project I knew about the direct correlation of child labour with poverty and education, it was surprising to learn some of the Ghanaian statistics from the 2003 census.


Rural areas especially lack adequate schools and many village schools are severely under-funded. In areas, particularly in the Northern Region of Ghana, schools are overcrowded with insufficient staffing and supplies, bestowing poor quality education. Most notably, I learnt that the percentage of children aged 6 to 17 years old living in the Northern Region who had never attended school was 44.3 percent, while in the Greater Accra Region, it was only 5.1 percent.


For northern villages such as Larabanga (which I visited a few weekends ago – the village with the old Mosque), who did not have a formal school system until 1992, these situations offer little in terms of improved prospects and overcrowded classrooms leave the community with little expectation for enhanced development. Although there is hope for these rural populations, it is at times no wonder that impoverished parents see sending their kids to school as little more than a waste of time and money.


Aside from boring you with the details of a very long report, I guess I can move on and tell you the rest of the research that I’ll be working on. The report that I will be starting tomorrow focuses on child abuse utilizing case studies from CHRAJ and a collection of newspaper articles from the past two years. Following that report I will be moving on to a personal project outside of CHRAJ centering around the recently discovery of oil and gas deposits in Ghana.


Large deposits have been found along the coast and I’m interested in determining the environmental and human impacts which will be created from the upcoming extraction. In the 60s when developing countries found oil deposits, it spelt a recipe for disaster and has been seen as a curse instead of a blessing. Dictatorships developed as countries were still fighting for their independence from colonial powers and civilians were left in a constant struggle for human rights during civil unrest. While Ghana is one of the best African countries as far as democracy is concerned, it will be interesting to see how the capitalistic system and neo-liberal ideas formulate the outcome of how successful the revenue toward the common population.


The majority of the past two weeks I have been slaving away on my child labour paper, but I also spent a couple days running around getting lost in the ministries and knocking on dozens of doors looking for resources from the ILO, UN and a few different Ghanaian Ministries. After spending half the day yesterday at the Togo embassy desperately trying to obtain a visa for the weekend, I will hand in my report today, go to an ex-pat pub tonight for trivia night and head to Togo Friday morning. The plan is to hit up Togo and Benin this weekend, so I’m anticipating an adventurous trip full of French West-African language, food, culture, stilt villages and voodoo!


I’ll take lots of pictures and keep you posted,
Au revoir!





1 Comment»

  mom wrote @

thanks for the update…… must be a sobering experience some days. How fortunate we are in Canada. Can’t wait to see the next update and am really looking forward to seeing you in Sept!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: