Why Manya Krobo?

The board members of Educating Every Child are often asked why we chose this specific area. Surely many other regions in Ghana, and more generally Africa, could benefit from a scholarship program such as EEC. Our board chose the Manya Krobo region specifically due to its tumultuous history.

The story begins at the world’s largest man-made lake, Lake Volta. In 1962, the Akosombo Dam was completed by the American company Kaiser Aluminum and the Ghanaian government. The project was intended to enhance and accelerate economic growth. It was meant to be a symbol of the future prosperity for the newly independent Ghanaian state. The project developers claimed the following benefits: massive output of hydroelectric power, enhanced fishing, and improved opportunities for irrigated farming.

Despite these promises of economic growth, the effects of this project were devastating for the farmers of Manya Krobo.

Poverty became so rampant that many young women felt they were a burden to their own families.

One of the major unintended consequence of the Akosombo Dam and the creation of Lake Volta was a substantial decrease in crops yields. The dam prevented the natural flooding of the area, which had provided rich deposits and improved soil fertility. The decreased crop yields plunged the prosperous farming culture of the Krobo people into poverty.

Poverty became so rampant that many young women felt they were a burden to their own families. These young women left Manya Krobo without an education. Many of them ended up selling their bodies in the distant cities of Guinea Bissau and the Ivory Coast. When these young women returned to the Manya Krobo district, many returned with fatherless children and many more returned very sick. These young women, forced into a life of prostitution, started dying from a strange illness that the region had never seen before. This unknown illness penetrated the Manya Krobo district and was passed around for many years before it was discovered that the region’s men and women had been dying of AIDS. Although AIDS has been a tragedy in itself, an even greater problem exists in the shadows of the AIDS epidemic—a generation of children forced to grow up without a mother, father or family members to care for them.

In the words of a university professor of African Development, the building of the Akosombo Dam impoverished generations of Krobos. Even today, this region is one of the poorest in Ghana and has the highest population of orphans.

According to the latest statics in Ghana, 1.2 million of the nation’s children are orphaned. The highest percentage of orphans lives in the Manya Krobo area. Although this community has a tradition of individual members of the community caring for orphans in their own homes without any compensation, they are simply too poor to pay for school fees. Financial assistance to attend Senior High School is extremely rare. Thus, orphaned young women in this region find it almost impossible to complete their high school education. The scholarships provided by the EEC program can have a significant impact on this area by helping young women achieve their professional goals, and ultimately ending the cycle of poverty.