Poverty, prejudice, and a lack of access to resources and opportunities disproportionately affect children, women and individuals with special needs in low-income regions. Necessary Aid Alliance promotes awareness for a more equal and inclusive society.
Problems and Purpose
Educational inequality is a significant challenge in Ghana, affecting various economic, social, and political development aspects. Akyeanpong et al. articulate that "poverty is clearly at the root of poor participation in schooling in Ghana." The Ghana Statistical Service in 2013 revealed the educational gap based on the proportion of gender and age between the Southern and the Northern parts of Ghana. Their research indicated that the three parts of Northern Ghana, Northern, Upper East and Upper West, had the lowest participation in education compared to the average. Females under fifteen were more affected than males in the Northern regions. In a recent research outcome, the authors identified related circumstances, as indicated by the Ghana Statistical Service, that led to low participation and further contend that "if governments do not pay special attention to gender-specific demands for education in their policies to reduce education inequality, their efforts could fail to close the gender gap in education because men and women react to educational expansion differently." 
The problem mentioned above motivated Necessary Aid Alliance, a Non-governmental Organization, to help create a thriving rural community where females, children and people with special needs will have the opportunity to attain quality education, teenage girls will be safe and free to make informed decisions, women will be able to earn enough to feed families and inspired healthy vulnerable groups.
Background History and Context
Since 1987, the Ghana Statistical Service (GSS) has been collecting data through the Ghana Living Standards Survey (GLSS) to track how government initiatives affect the quality of life in Ghana. However, in the sixth round of the Living Standards Survey, the Ghana Statistical Service introduced a Labour Force Module to help gather information on labour indicators. This module revealed that the regions with low participation in education tend to be underdeveloped. On the other hand, areas like Greater Accra, with the highest participation in education for both sexes, become the wealthiest region. Afoakwah et al.(2023) postulate using the Gini coefficient that regions with high inequalities are poor, whereas developed regions have lower inequalities. This reaffirms the scholars' assertion that policy implementation and impacts vary in regions.
In this context, unofficially, Necessary Aid Alliance began its operation in 2017 with few projects as the founder Mulumba Ngmenlabagna Songsore was in the University and had developed an interest in supporting his people in the rural communities of the Upper West Region of Ghana. Growing up in a rural community, Songsore had a firsthand experience of the various challenges his people faced. In 2019, Songsore met Rudolph Donald Lee, a Jamaican resident of Canada in Kumasi, during the government flagship program dubbed 'Year of Return.' This event entreated Africans living in the diaspora to return to their roots. Songore discussed his ideas and projects with Lee as they exchanged contacts and pleasantries.  Songore, having had the idea of formalizing and registering a non-profit organization to Rudolph and predicated his argument from the fact that Songore was a graduate of a development-oriented University, can leverage his knowledge to write proposals to organizations for partnerships, funding, and grants and that will enable them to help a larger group of people equally struggling from various problems in Ghana. Songore asked Lee if he could also sell this idea to friends and relations in Canada to donate to a worthy cause in Ghana. Lee fully paid for all expenses related to the registration of Necessary Aid Alliance in June 2020.
Organising, Supporting and Funding Entities.
Necessary Aid Alliance crafts programs around its thematic areas of operations and, together as a team, discusses best practices to serve interventions and create lasting impacts. The organization employs the "STAR method" by first understanding the Situation, Tasking themselves with responsibilities, taking Action and reaping Results. This organization also conducts post-evaluations to understand what needs improvement and how to maintain impact sustainability. Necessary Aid Alliance works hand in hand as a team in sharing ideas and mapping the best solutions. Typically, the Executive Director leads such discussions with program directors and volunteers. The Financial and Administrative Director guides us in preparing realistic budgets. Further, the organization actively writes proposals against any call for proposals that align with its vision statement. As a growing youth-led organization, members pay dues as Executives to support small programs and advocacy initiatives. Also, the website is built with a donate button where the organization hopes to receive income to support its activities. The organization aims to create awareness and support for developing the capacities of women, children, and individuals with special needs.
Necessary Aid Alliance has received funding from Plan International Ghana as one of Ghana's most viable youth groups. The organization won the first-ever Plan International West Africa Youth Challenge Funds. As the only organization to win this West Africa fund competition, Plan International Ghana was impressed with the level of precision and impact of the use of the Youth Challenge Fund. Ever since winning that grant in 2020; Plan International Ghana has quarterly supported its programs with short term grants even till date. Furthermore, the organization also received short-term project funding from Infinite Research Institute, Ethnic Minority Hub (Ireland), Africa Child Rights (Nigeria) CouldYou? (USA) Norsaac (Ghana) and Mujeres Politicas (Spain). Funding and partnerships from other organizations have tremendously engaged team members and volunteer base of Necessary Aid Alliance to impact lives, build their profiles and broaden their network base. It offers great joy and fulfilment to impact lives and advocate for social change and cultural norms for a better and prosperous society. The organization is on that desired path of rural-centred impact through viable partnerships. These partnerships add more legitimacy and enrich the organization's track record of program implementation. For partner institutions, the works of Necessary Aid Alliance have given them full value for money as programs have reaped the impact on people in Northern regions. Partners have also benefited from social media visibility and traditional and mainstream media reportage.
Participation Recruitment and Selection
Necessary Aid Alliance has eleven permanent staff and five interns drawn from various Universities, including the University of Development Studies, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, and the University of Ghana, to serve for a period for academic timetable fulfilment. The organization has received over fifty volunteers from the Universities and Technical Universities in the region to help accomplish its objectives.
What Went On: Process, Interaction, and Participation
Necessary Aid Alliance conducts community entry processes in all its programs. Communities are engaged in all planning activities; thus, the organization employs a bottom-up development approach. It makes use of traditional media like Radios and Community Centres. Churches and Mosques are used to disseminate information. The organization makes graphic publications and uses social media handles and websites to share information. Community reception and gratitude are primarily expressed through dance by playing local instruments like the xylophone and drum and dancing to them while chanting a eulogy of praise for the intervention done to them. This mode of acceptance was expressed across most of its programs. During the inauguration of the community library in Loho in the Upper West Region and Kugnani in the Northern Region, there was singing and dancing, done mainly by the women in praise of the organization's educational intervention. Also, at school levels, students, most times student leaders, delivered a word of appreciation in the form of a vote of thanks on behalf of the entire student body in appreciation of the intervention. On behalf of the student body, the girls' prefects thanked the organization with a vote of thanks speech after receiving the donated soap materials and sanitary products. This was the same during the organization's Calendar for Change program closure in two districts in the upper west region.
Influence, Outcomes and Effects
Over the years, the Necessary Aid Alliance has significantly contributed to developing and increasing female, children, and individuals with special needs participation in education. The organization focused on three development segments: the educational, entrepreneurial, and vulnerable support groups. Necessary provided reading books, puzzles, drawing books, crayons, slates, pens, and pencils worth Gh5,000 to Kugnani Community in the Saboba District in Northern Ghana. The organization furnished a library with reading books and computers serving three communities. Also, nine-seven students with special needs in the Upper West Region were provided educational souvenirs and emotional support. The organization published a research paper on inclusive education in the Upper West Region and supported the Special Needs Centre in Wa Secondary School with educational materials.
Furthermore, the organization also donated a computer with speakers and reading and learning materials to aid visual learning. This was the first ever computer to land in the village. Necessary Aid Alliance supports teachers in facilitating knowledge sharing in this village. The organization provided storybooks, textbooks, and pamphlets to the Loho - Kaleo D/C Primary school as part of its Read To Lead Program. Staff volunteer mentored students and organized quizzes and debates for them. The institution also provided a computer, reading books, pamphlets, and pens to the Kpazie D/A Primary School in the Nadowli Kaleo District and sandals to twenty students who walked barefooted to schools in the region. Necessary Aid alliance is currently distributing five thousand books to religious groups in the Upper West Region of Ghana with support from Mailbox Group. Moreover, the organization supported Young African Great Mind by donating marshals, pens, and pencils to a Saveligu Junior High School Day mentorship program. Necessary Aid Alliance has supported 12 males who completed Junior and Senior High Schools in Ghana. The organization also provided educational scholarships to three University Students and engaged in research on Inclusive Education in the Wa Municipality, and provided learning materials to all students with special needs studying in mainstream schools in Northern Region.
Regarding entrepreneurial training, Necessary Aid Alliance has trained over a thousand women in liquid soap production in the Upper West Region and seven teenage girls in the Sissala West District in making chains and handbags from Beads. The organization further donated a hundred litres of liquid soap to four schools, provided skills training in liquid soap production to a CHPS compound in Mangu, and donated chemicals worth Gh300 to the facility. Necessary Aid Alliance also built a 20-foot container for Maxual Ewusi, a talented electrician with many dependents and sick parents in Accra, as he earns from this venture. Also, the organization has provided space to a young lady at Maxuel shop to start a mobile money business and expanded the sewing business of Mary in Accra through its SEW4EXPORT Project, where she sews African Prints to send to partners abroad. Mary has since expanded her business and given a chance to more people to learn the sewing trade. The organization further provided direct skills training in liquid soap production and packaging to five-hundred and seventy-five women in thirty communities in the Upper West Region and built a Peer Learning Centre in Wa, which provides free skills training to teenage girls in bead accessories beauty.
Nevertheless, the Necessary Aid Alliance provides Vulnerable Group Support. It has a four-acre maize farm that gives farm proceeds to orphans, widows and people experiencing poverty in the Upper West Region. And harvested five bags of maize in 2019 and 2020 and has since distributed it to people in need. The organization also funded three young men to start goat and pig rearing in the Upper West and Northeast regions. The organization has empowered females along the agri-business chain in Wa, Nandom, Tumu and Gwollu.
Furthermore, Necessary Aid Alliance provided a 'trainer of trainee's program' to twenty youths in the Upper West Region. Through the Calendar for Change program, the organization directly empowered and transformed the career mindsets of two thousand five hundred females in the Wa East and Wa West Districts in the Upper West Region to fully enrol in education and created a vibrant girl child group in Loho. Recently, the organization delivered a research report on 'Adolescent Access to Sexual and Reproductive Health Information and Services in the Upper West region.
The organization partners with COULDYOU Foundation to help solve the menstrual poverty of two-thousand females in the Upper West Region by training and providing reusable Menstrual Cups that last ten years. Also, in partnership with Plan International Calendar, the organization is working on a project birthed and conceptualized called 'Calendar for Change.' This project is piloted in ten schools around Wa West and Wa East districts. This project aims to transform the career mindset change among females schooling in rural communities by providing them with guidance and mentorship by successful females in diverse careers. The organization is actively working on the Skills Drive Project, which seeks to provide digital skills to females as means of economic empowerment. These program training models focus on training on satellite installation, channel addition, dish assembling, and channel editing.
Analysis and Lessons Learned
In low-income areas like the Northern regions of Ghana, empowering women is vital to building a better society. Poverty, prejudice, and a lack of access to resources and opportunities disproportionately affect women in low-income nations. However, the Necessary Aid Alliance empowers women in these societies to bring about revolutionary change, improving the lives of women and their children, extended families and communities. The organization aims to promote and create awareness for a more equal and inclusive society where women can achieve their potential and contribute to sustainable development by addressing the barriers they experience and providing them with education, healthcare, economic opportunity, and legal protection. Necessary aid envisions and believes that empowering women in these areas has long-term development goals. The cycle of poverty, prejudice, and inequality can be broken by identifying and addressing the issues women, children, and individuals with special needs in the communities confront. When these individuals are given the tools to succeed, they may make significant changes in their own lives and the lives of their families.
It is imperative that Necessary Aid Alliance, in collaboration with other organizations, keeps fighting to ensure the provision and access to the resources for these special skills and empowerment to women to break down barriers, develop to their full potential, and participate in political and economic decision-making. Necessary Aid Alliance believes that collective Action is the only way to ensure that women of all economic backgrounds participate fully in shaping the future and building a more equitable and prosperous society.
1. Akyeampong, K., Djangmah, J., Oduro, A., Seidu, A., & Hunt, F. (2007). Access to Basic Education in Ghana: The Evidence and the Issues. Country Analytic Report. ERIC.
2. Ghana Statistical Service (2013) Ghana Living Standards Survey (GLSS6), 6th edition, Accra.https://www2.statsghana.gov.gh/nada/index.php/catalog/72/study-descriptionAccessed 15th May 2023.
3. Afoakwah, C., Deng, X., & Onur, I. (2023). Reforms and education inequality in Ghana. Review of Development Economics, 27(2), 868. https://doi.org/10.1111/rode.12961
4. Ghana Statistical Service( 2018) Ghana Living Standards Survey Round 7(GLSS7): Poverty trends in Ghana 2015-2017, 7th edition. https://www.statsghana.gov.gh/gssmain/fileUpload/pressrelease/GLSS7%20MAIN%20REPORT_FINAL.pdf Accessed 15th May 2023.
5. Ghana Statistical Service (2013) Ghana Living Standards Survey (GLSS6), 6th edition, Accra.https://www2.statsghana.gov.gh/nada/index.php/catalog/72/study-descriptionAccessed 15th May 2023.
6. Afoakwah, C., Deng, X., & Onur, I. (2023). Reforms and education inequality in Ghana. Review of Development Economics, 27(2), 862–863. https://doi.org/10.1111/rode.12961
7. Interview with Mulumba Ngmenlabagna Songsore, Founder- Necessary Aid Alliance, Upper West, Wa, Ghana, on 22nd October, 2022.
8. Interview with Mulumba Ngmenlabagna Songsore, Founder- Necessary Aid Alliance, Upper West, Wa, Ghana, on 15th November, 2022.
9. Interview with Mulumba Ngmenlabagna Songsore, Founder- Necessary Aid Alliance, Upper West, Wa, Ghana, on 3rd May, 2023.
10. Interview with Mulumba Ngmenlabagna Songsore, Founder- Necessary Aid Alliance, Upper West, Wa, Ghana, on 3rd May, 2023.
11. Interview with Mulumba Ngmenlabagna Songsore, Founder- Necessary Aid Alliance, Upper West, Wa, Ghana, on 3rd May, 2023
12. Necessary Aid- Alliance-Official Website.(n.d.). https://www.necessaryaidalliance.org/