Towards a Malaria-Free Women Sheabutter Cooperative in Northern Ghana
It was on 5 April 2018 at Kempinski Hotel, Gold Coast City that the atmosphere was charged with the presence of high level dignitaries from across West Africa. They had gathered for the prestigious West Africa "Zero Malaria Now" Corporate Award Ceremony, organised by the Private Sector Malaria Prevention (PSMP) project of Johns Hopkins Center for Communication Programs, GBCHealth’s Corporate Alliance on Malaria Africa (CAMA), and the National Malaria Control Program of the Ghana Health Service.
The award honours companies and individuals who are helping to eradicate Malaria in the region, and encourages the private sector to be a key stakeholder in promoting health and the fight against malaria.
With a loud applause from all participants, the Shea Butter Community Commerce Project was awarded the most outstanding community intervention title in the ‘Social Good Category’, for its profound efforts in protecting shea butter cooperatives and their communities from malaria in the Northern and Upper West regions of Ghana.
The Shea Butter Community Commerce Project is a socially responsible community project implemented by SNV with funding from Sundial Brands Limited and The Sofi Tucker Foundation (STF). The project is implemented in 5 districts and involves fifteen producer cooperatives, (11 shea, 2 soap, 2 nuts pickers). Approximately 2,540 women are directly engaged in these cooperatives, and this indirectly benefits over 15,000 people as a result of their increased incomes from shea nuts.
Protecting the Health of Shea Producers
Despite the significant gains made globally in reducing the burden of malaria, the disease remains a major public health challenge, especially in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) including Ghana. The economic cost of malaria to Ghana is about US$6.58 million in 2014 (Malaria Journal 2016 15:454).
One focus of this project is to improve the health and safety of women and their community, as this affects their participation in the workforce and regular income. Ensuring good health leads to the regular production of shea butter, and meeting buyer demands.
In Ghana, the universal coverage of mosquito nets is only 50.3%. As a result, many female beneficiaries apart of this project were infected with malaria, and were therefore unable to work. To respond to this, the project insured 98% of beneficiaries with the National Health Insurance Scheme, and 90% of the women underwent health screenings and were provided with insecticide-treated nets. This response led to a reduction in malaria. Under the project, SNV is not only increasing incomes, providing decent employment, and sustaining livelihoods, but it is also equally reducing the economic cost of malaria to the nation.
“Malaria depletes the workforce and reduces productivity. Sick employees stay home and companies are compelled to spend huge amounts on their healthcare. The corporate heads here can testify that this affects your profitability. And it is not only businesses that lose. Families lose and governments also lose,”
-First Lady of Ghana, Rebecca Akufo-Addo
In conclusion, the project has become a model worth scaling up. Sundial has become a well-known household name, and many more groups want to be part of the project. Women are increasingly getting empowered and taking major decisions not only at the household level but also within their respective communities. These cooperatives not only provide income, they are also increasingly consulted in the local political space. Community commerce can truly empower the poor.
In this project EMPOWERMENT means “improving women’s capacity to make informed choices” !
- Eric Banye, Project Manager at SNV in Ghana
Read more about shea butter here.
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-----------------  Percentage of households with at least one ITN for every two persons who stayed in the household last night.  An insecticide-treated net (ITN) is (1) a factory-treated net that does not require any further treatment (LLIN) or (2) a net that has been soaked with insecticide within the past 12 months