Report from Gilbert Ansoglenang, Master Programme in Indigenous Studies, University of Tromsø
Financial support to the project:
“Rural Women and Micro-credit Schemes: Cases from the Lawra District of Ghana”
The Centre for Environment and Development, and the Centre for Sámi studies strategy fund gave me financial support to enable me travel to Ghana to collect primary and secondary data for my thesis from June 4 to August 30, 2005.
My thesis is about rural women who form associated groups in order to qualify for micro-credit assistance from non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and government line agencies for their income generating activities. The micro-credit is used as a tool in reducing/alleviating poverty in Ghana.
The issue of poverty has attracted global concerned, especially in sub-Saharan Africa and for that matter Ghana. Majority of the population in rural Ghana depends on subsistence farming as a livelihood. But their land holdings are very small coupled with infertile soils. Low agricultural production and incomes especially among the vulnerable group, that is women, contribute to seasonal hunger, and remained in their lives. Meanwhile, in terms of resource allocation such as land, women are marginalized and discriminated against.
In order to meet their domestic needs, a good number of women in Nandom have engaged in income generating activities. This has not been without problems. For instance, many of them are not able to mobilize the seed capital in order to begin with. NGOs and government institutions have therefore taken it upon themselves as a challenge to help these women overcome this problem. Micro-credit is therefore given to them to help address their needs. The over all objective of the credit is to help in addressing the issue of poverty, which is a canker in Third World Countries and Ghana for that matter.
A good number of reasons lead me to write about rural women and micro-credit as my thesis project. Firstly, is to access to see if the micro-credit given to these women really helps in reducing poverty in Nandom. Secondly, is to determine the accessibility and sustainability of the micro-credit to rural women. And thirdly, is to access if the micro-credit is able to empower these women economically and socially.
This study hypothesizes that micro-credit given to rural women for their income generating activities does not necessarily lead to poverty reduction, and thus empowering them economically and socially. This is because the credit given to them could rather worsen their plight if it is not well managed.
Various methods of data collection were adopted during my fieldwork in Ghana. Open-ended semi-structured questionnaires were used to interview the women since it involves figures. Participant observation and informal discussions were also used during the data collection. The essence of these techniques is to allow probing and open discussions into the issue. I am also currently sourcing for secondary literature that is related to this thesis. In this case, both qualitative and quantitative methods are being employed in collecting the data for the project.