Stakeholders in the Upper East Region have appealed to the Global Affairs Canada and UNICEF to extend the Safe and Protective Environment for Adolescent Development (SPREAD) Project meant for contributing to the reduction of early child marriage, teenage pregnancies, and Sexual and Gender-Based Violence in the region.
The project being implemented by the Youth Harvest Foundation Ghana (YFG), NGO with funding support from the Global Affairs Canada through UNICEF had the ultimate goal of contributing to the reduction of early child marriage, teenage pregnancies, and Gender-Based Violence in the region.
The two- year – project, which begun implementation in October 2019 in 30 communities in six districts of the Upper East Region namely Builsa South, Bongo, Talensi, Bawku West, Kassena Nankana West, and Nabdam ended in 2021.
The stakeholders who were made up of chiefs and queen mothers, Assembly members, Heads of government institutions including the Ghana Health Service, Ghana Education Service, the Media among others made the call at separate forums held in Bolgatanga and Navrongo in the region on Monday.
According to the stakeholders, the project had made a significant impact and there was the need to extend it to cover more than the current 30 communities in the region where the project is being implemented..
The Paramount Chief of the Nangodi traditional area, Nab Yelsoya Kosom Asaga 11, stated that not only had the project contributed significantly to the reduction of early child marriage, teenage pregnancies, and SGBV in the region but had also empowered the adolescents with sexual and reproductive health issues.
He said one of the success stories that were dear to his heart as chief was the way and manner the ambassadors of the SPREAD project were able to rescue many girls who were given up for early marriage back to school.
He said the project could achieve a more significant impact if it is extended to the other communities in the region and appealed to the donors to extend the project duration to help catch up with more communities as well as consolidate the gains chalked.
The Girl-Child Officer in charge of the KIassena-Nankana District stated that as a result of the outbreak of the COVID-19, a lot of the schoolgirls have become pregnant and dropped out of school and indicated the project when extended has the capacity of bringing such girls back to school.
The Adolescent Focal Person at Nabdam District Health Directorate, Mr Dennis Asolmia, said unlike before many of the adolescents found it difficult accessing reproductive healthcare services from the youth friendliness health centre but the project had broken that challenge as many of the youth now attend such centres.
The Programme Manager of YHFG, Mr. Albert Akafari explained that the essence of the forum which brought together stakeholders including chiefs, queen mothers, Assembly members, Heads of departments from Government state agencies including the Ghana Health Service, Education Service, the SPREAD Project Ambassadors, the Media among others was to disseminate the draft of the evaluation report of the SPREAD Project and to solicit inputs from the stakeholders for the final report.