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  • Writer's pictureAmplio

Promoting Positive Behaviors In High-Risk Border Communities of Ghana's Upper West Region with the USAID/OTI Littorals Regional Initiative

Updated: May 15

Amplio staff greet Chiefs and elders in Sampina community. Photo by Chee Chew

A Q&A with Amplio’s Programs Coordinator, Fidelis Da-uri. 

In May 2023, Amplio Ghana, with funding from the United States Agency for International Development's Office of Transition Initiatives (USAID/OTI) partnered with Creative Associates International (Creative) to implement the Littorals Regional Initiative (LRI) project. This project aimed to promote positive behaviors in 12 rural border communities in Ghana's Upper West Region, which face heightened conflict risks due to their proximity to Burkina Faso and Côte d'Ivoire. 

Creative is a development organization that enables communities around the world, particularly in Africa, to bring about positive transformations. With extensive experience across various sectors like education, economic growth, and guiding communities’ transition from conflict towards peace, Creative collaborates closely with local populations to design and implement projects that improve their lives. The USAID Office of Transition Initiatives plays a vital role in advancing U.S. foreign policy objectives by supporting local partners in promoting peace and democracy. By funding the LRI project, USAID/OTI facilitated Creative’s collaboration with Amplio to execute this initiative.

We asked Amplio’s Programs Coordinator Fidelis Da-uri to tell us all about the project, the use of Social and Behavior Change interventions and Talking Books to promote peace and social cohesion. With a wealth of experience spanning over 10 years, Fidelis has been instrumental in leveraging Amplio Talking Books (ATBs) to promote social and behavior change since 2012. 

Hello Fidelis! Tell us about the LRI project.

The USAID/OTI-funded LRI project targeted programming that reduced windows for violent extremist expansion by conducting Training of Trainers (ToT) sessions, conducting community-level social mobilization activities (stakeholder dialogue meetings, development of community action plans and mediation committees) and using Amplio Talking Books - durable, cost-effective battery-powered audio devices designed for people with low literacy - to deliver content to men, women and youth groups, and Fulbe herders.

The 12 communities we worked in the Nadowli/Kaleo and Sissala East districts were Cherikpong, Takpo, Naville, Nanga, Tangasie, Pido, Sampina, Basissan, Banu, Wuru, Tanla, and Nitalu. It was wonderful partnering with Creative on this project, and I foresee more future partnerships.

Community members in Sampina sing and dance. Photo by Chee Chew

What kind of challenges do border communities in Ghana’s Upper West Region face?

The Upper West region is known to have several mineral deposits and suitable lands for cattle pastoralists. Over the past five years, an influx of miners and Fulbe herders seeking grazing lands has led to heightened tensions in the region. Farmers assert certain lands were designated for agriculture, and the Fulbe should respect those boundaries. Similarly, conflicts arise as community members and herders compete for limited water resources. 

Also, across most of the districts, there are chieftaincy and land disputes, inter-ethnic conflicts, periodic clashes between host communities and youth groups engaged in mining. As a result, there was a growing sense of fatigue among the conflict risk communities to deal with the situation before the situation would degenerate into violent conflicts.

What was the project goal?

This project sought to reduce the vulnerability levels of people living in conflict risk border communities by addressing the conditions contributing to tensions and potential conflict situations. Using social and behavioral change (SBC) approaches, we promoted changes in behaviors and enhanced interactions among traditional leaders, community members, high-risk youth groups (miners) and minority groups (Mossi and Fulbe) leading to the adoption of best practices for peaceful co-existence in the target communities.

What is the Talking Book listening model for the LRI project?

Group and household listening. We distributed a total of 180 Talking Books to 80 groups (48 in Nadowli/Kaleo and 32 in Sissala East Municipal) in 12 communities—six in each district. Groups listened to messages weekly in their group meetings. Members also took the devices home on a rotational basis, allowing them to listen with their families.

Members of youth groups in Pido during a monitoring of behavior change activity. Photo by Vitus Mwinye

What content went on the Talking Books?

The audio content covered messages on the effects of conflicts on our community development, alternative dispute resolution methods at the community level, resolving chieftaincy and land disputes, breaking stereotypes, and embracing the ethnic minority (Fulbe and Mossi) communities, prevention of violent extremism (PVE), and provided guidelines for the high-risk groups and Fulbe herders to conduct their activities in a responsible and respectful manner.

We recorded the content in four local languages: Dagaare, Kasem, Fulfulde (Fulbe) and Moore (Mossi) to overcome the challenge of low literacy levels among the target audience.

What kind of feedback has Amplio received from the key stakeholders so far?

During a recent monitoring and tracking of behavior change in the Bassisan community, Baari Musah the chief of the Fulbe community in Bassisan shared his opinion about the intervention. He said,

 "The Talking Book messages have helped us a lot. Before this program, we the Fulbe community were not always invited to participate in community meetings or any issue relating to the community’s development. Our women were always stereotyped and humiliated at the community water pumps. We always felt unrecognized but since the introduction of the Talking Book, we are invited to partake in community meetings and gatherings. Our women no longer face issues with other community women. We now feel valued by community members."

We directly engaged the various stakeholder groups in dialogue sessions to discuss the issues affecting them, factors undermining peaceful co-existence and supported them in developing action plans for achieving violence free communities. Furthermore, we supported the communities to establish conflict mediation committees comprising representatives of the respective stakeholder groups to address any potential conflict situation.

Lastly, we used our Participatory Performance Methodology (PPM) to monitor and document evidence of achieving the violence free action plans including people’s perception of the security situation. Stakeholders were happy to learn that we used their feedback collected through the Amplio Talking Books and dialogue meetings to improve and strengthen the violence free action plans.

Chiefs, elders and various stakeholders attended the projects' inception meeting in their numbers. Photo by Vitus Mwinye

Can you talk about sustainability?

The LRI project was designed with sustainability in mind to ensure its positive impacts continue beyond the project's lifetime. A key focus was on building local capacity and ownership through activities like training of trainers (ToT) programs to equip community members with skills to lead discussions and mobilization efforts themselves. The formation of community action plans and mediation committees made up of local stakeholders helped communities address issues and resolve conflicts at the grassroot level. The use of ATBs enabled the dissemination of audio content within communities without reliance on external facilitators, promoting self-sufficiency.

By equipping communities, traditional leaders, youth groups, Fulbes and farmers with relevant information on conflict prevention, the aim is for them to be able to independently continue the work of promoting positive behaviors, social cohesion and preventing violent extremism after the project comes to an end. 

This isn't the first time you've worked on a Talking Book project — what makes the LRI project unique?

Over the years I have worked on Talking Book projects across various sectors including maternal and child health, child protection, water and sanitation hygiene (WASH), reproductive health, agriculture, climate change, strengthening health systems, financial literacy, women empowerment, risk communication and community engagement, however, the LRI project is unique because it addresses peace and social cohesion between people of the same and different ethnic backgrounds living together. 

Programs coordinator, Fidelis Da-uri delivers a speech to community members. Photo by Lee Ann De Reus

Can you share some project key takeaways/lessons?

Amplio Ghana's intervention in the 12 communities has yielded notable impacts. There has been a decrease in conflicts between farmers and herders, coupled with the formation and training of Conflict Mediation Committees to resolve or refer conflicts when needed. Action plans were recorded in audio formats, enabling communities to address conflicts effectively. Furthermore, the project has witnessed a decline in household and community-level disputes, indicating positive behavioral changes. 

In my opinion, a crucial learning from this initiative is the importance of nurturing community ownership and ensuring access to information. The formation of Community Mediation Committees, spearheaded by community members themselves, and the adaptation of their Action Plans into audio formats in the local languages (accommodating individuals with low literacy), are effective strategies for ensuring the long-term sustainability of this intervention within the communities, even after the project's completion.


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