Mpaem, a cocoa growing community in the New Juaben North Municipality, has benefited from the Cocoa Communities Development Project, which is aimed at improving living conditions in cocoa-growing areas.
With the project implemented by the International Cocoa Initiative (ICI) in collaboration with the municipal assembly, the community can now boast of a CHPS compound, nurses quarters, a 3-classroom block with auxiliary facilities for JHS pupils and a 4-unit one-bedroom teachers quarters.
Nana Bekoe Ahwireng, Chief of Mpaem, who disclosed this in an interview said the intervention had improved the living standards of the people in the areas of health, education, women empowerment and eradication of child labour.
He said until the provision of the Junior High school (JHS) for the community, children who completed basic school six, had to commute to another community about eight kilometres to access JHS.
The situation led to truancy and school dropouts as well as increased child labour on cocoa farms.
Nana Ahwireng also said the absence of teachers quarters led to absenteeism and lateness on the part of teachers, whiles children in the community took advantage of the circumstances to work on cocoa farms, thereby disrupting teaching and learning.
He said pregnant women often lost their lives as a result of delays in getting to the health facilities, attributing it due to the bad nature of the road networks.
He explained that vehicles refused to ply roads and people had to access healthcare at Jumapo, a nearby community, about three kilometres away.
“Now,” he happily said, “all these are things of the past and through the project, women groups have been formed and trained in economic activities which enables them to do a ‘susu’ and loan scheme to support their activities.”
However, he said the community needed other interventions to complement the efforts of ICI and called on authorities to construct the road leading to the community from the main Koforidua-Kumasi trunk road.
He noted that the bad nature of the road was affecting the carting of their farm produce, particularly cocoa beans.
Sometimes, he said payments of cocoa farmers delay because marketing companies who buy the beans have difficulty in transporting them to their depots.
The ICI Cocoa Communities Development Programme, funded by its board members, assisted 75 cocoa-growing communities in Ghana and Ivory Coast between 2015 and 2018.
Mpaem is one of the eight cocoa-growing communities which has benefited from the project in the Eastern Region.
The principal goal of the project is to eradicate child labour on cocoa farms and use a community-led approach, development activities, and provision of quality education facilities, adult literacy, and income-generating activities and community empowerment as core elements.
Mpaem community was assisted to develop a five-year Community Action Plan using a child-centred approach.
A copy of the document has been deposited with the New Juaben North Municipal Assembly for their support and input into their budget and planning.