The New Enterprises of Ghana

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Working the mill © UNDP/Praise Nutakor

Alternative livelihoods are helping women in Ghana to become agents of change and build climate resilience through this Adaptation Fund-financed project.

Like many people in Ghana’s rural communities, Mali Yakubu and her family are not able to farm during the dry season.

Climate change impacts including draught, desertification, erosion and flooding are pushing farmers like Mali to the edge. An uptick in increasingly erratic rainfall with long dry periods as the result of climate change is upending age-old farming traditions, derailing development gains, and creating new obstacles as farmers strive to feed their families, and create lasting opportunities.

With limited access and control of resources – such as irrigation facilities, land and technology – women like Mali are struggling to adapt.


Close to 200 people joined the training on alternative livelihood agro-processing schemes in Tampion. Most of the attendees were women. Through the training, the women can now operate milling machines to process value-added agricultural produce.

They are using their new skills to process soybeans, shea and rice into profitable new products such as soy milk, kebabs, soy flour and shea butter. They then sell the products in local markets.

The new income means more food on the table, and perhaps most importantly, an alternative during the dry season and when drought and other climate-related impacts hit.


“The themes of livelihood diversification and training, fostering gender equality and women’s empowerment along with sustainable agriculture and water management measures are crucial in Ghana and many other Adaptation Fund projects and also serve to build broader resilience and self-sufficiency amid the COVID-19 pandemic."

Ollikainen added that the project has the potential to be scaled up, highlighting that these positive examples may help build the foundation for future investments.


Empowering women to adapt to climate change impacts is beneficial to society at large. Ghana has made impressive strides in the past 20 years in reducing hunger and poverty, according to the World Food Programme.

Besides providing a welcomed new source of money, the women and their families also consume the processed food products – creating a healthier well-balanced diet – and use the shea butter as a cosmetic.

Across Northern Ghana there are now over 7,200 women in 24 communities that are supported through these agro-processing facilities.

In all, over 11,000 direct beneficiaries (60% women) were introduced to climate change adaptation activities through the project. These new income-generating activities included fish farming, dry season gardening, and honey production, among others.


With the support of the government of Ghana, UNDP and other key actors, 145 boreholes were built across 50 communities. These new water sources benefited over 40,000 people, mostly women and children.

As the COVID-19 pandemic extended its dark shadow across Ghana and the rest of the world, these new clean water sources are essential in preventing the spread of the disease, offering clean water for drinking and washing, and limiting the unpaid time women and children spend each day seeking water at the riverside.

Through the project, 10 community dams were successfully rehabilitated, giving over 20,000 people more reliable access to water for irrigation and animal rearing throughout the year. This means the next time drought hits, local farmers will have a way to keep their crops alive and their families fed.

Five additional dams are currently being rehabilitated and will benefit more than 10,000 more people.

In protecting planet earth – and making good on commitments to the Paris Agreement for low-carbon climate-resilient development – the project interventions have also promoted afforestation through tree nursery and tree planting activities. This is protecting the river basins, watersheds and water facilities, and helping to re-green an area blighted by drought, desertification and environmental degradation.

For women like Mali, it’s a game changer, and a chance at a better life.

From a global perspective, the support from the project is reducing hunger and poverty, providing new opportunities for peaceful and sustainable development, and delivering on targets outlined in the Paris Agreement and Sustainable Development Goals.