View EWB-RHIT Ghana in a larger map
EWB-RHIT was founded in 2004 by a group of students led by Eric Clifft and began searching for a project as well as financial backing. After networking with EWB-Columbia as well as eventually meeting Dr. Akanzule, we took on the collaboration with the community of Obodan, Ghana in the hopes of improving their abilities of self-sufficiency while improving their quality of life.
The belief of Dr. Anthony Akunzule, a United States Department of Agriculture official, and Mr. Bill Dickerson, a philanthropist, is that foreign aid can only help a limited number of people and it is up to the citizens of the villages without foreign aid to follow the examples of those who receive the improvements that foreign aid provides. In 2003, with this strategy in mind, Mr. Dickerson and Dr. Akunzule searched for the ideal community that had the elements necessary for success. The community had to be near a drivable road to allow for easy access for materials and travelers, reasonably priced land close to a source of electricity must be available for purchase, and needed to be in a populated region so that other villages could learn and benefit from the improvements made to it. After almost a month of searching in southern Ghana they finally found Odoban. Mr. Dickerson and Dr. Akunzule believed that the greatest impact to the citizens of Ghana could be made by improving as many necessities, such as water, food, sanitation, and education, in a single community as possible. In selecting Obodan, they were selecting a model village, which could serve as an example for surrounding villages, thereby improving the lives of many more people.
The goals of Project Obodan were to improve the sanitation, protein consumption, education, water, and finances of the villagers. Mr. Dickerson personally donated money to start the planned improvements, but he knew that he would be unable to fund all aspects of the project. Dr. Akunzule began looking for additional sources of funding and he applied to Engineers Without Boarders – USA in 2004. The project finances were then divided between Mr. Dickerson and EWB. In 2006 EWB Columbia constructed a KVIP to improve the sanitation of the village and then EWB-RHIT took over the program. We first constructed a brooder house to help increase protein consumption, as well as to increase the finances of the village. We then took on the community center project so that community members, specifically children, could gain better education within the community and more easily connect with the outside world.
This projects success depended greatly on village participation as our sustainability plan is based on this criterion. The village participated by providing land for the construction as well as labor for the construction. While some of the labor was provided by the EWB-RHIT, most of the labor was provided by the village. We had villagers volunteer every day helping us with the construction. The most notable participation was by the contractor and the village native Samuel who guided the team through the process of construction as well as obtaining materials. Their focus and dedication convinced us of their abilities to maintain and expand upon the facilities as they take over the ownership of the project. To further accomplish this transfer, Dr. Akunzule volunteered to train the villagers in management of the chicken coop as well as the training in providing chickens with veterinary care such as vaccinations. He resided in Obodan for some time in order to train villagers in this area and showed the participating villagers who are in charge of the chicken coop where to purchase the chickens as well as how many chickens to purchase. He also guided them through all the practices of raising chickens including vaccination and other necessary care. At first, the brooder house brought in less income than expected, so with the help of some of the surrounding villages, along with the business plan EWB-RHIT, community members continued to be trained to better manage the system. After a couple of successful cycles he slowly began to transfer managerial powers to the villagers in charge who will eventually sustain the project with no outside help. He similarly trained people to manage the community/training center and help start courses to expand the vocational abilities of community members.