19 Feb Economic Empowerment for Women with the Palm Oil Project
This blog is one of this year’s Alumni Project Fund proposals. Throughout the next few weeks, we will be rolling out the project proposals on our blog. If it’s an idea that strongly resonates with you and that you support, hit the ‘like’ button on the Facebook post we share about it or leave a comment at the bottom of each blog entry. Whichever project receives the most votes and comments will automatically advance to the final round of grant selection.
The Palm Oil Project was first started in January 2009 in Kwamoano, Cape Coast, Ghana. Health Protection and Environmental Sanitation (HEPENS) had previously been conducting community outreach programs and had the opportunity to understand the health concerns in the village but also various social determinants of health that was preventing vulnerable groups, particularly women, from seeking healthcare and achieving good health. Many women in this community, often in female-headed households, are unemployed, economically marginalized, and unable to provide for their families.
Palm oil production provides a unique opportunity for these women as a source of income for a variety of reasons. First, Ghana is considered to be a major producer of palm oil in West Africa due to the abundance of palm species along the Southern coast. The Central Region of Ghana offers the prime growth conditions for palm fruit trees as well. Palm fruits are roasted, then squeezed and processed to produce palm oil, which is a staple in Ghanaian cooking but is also heavily exported due to its health-benefits (high in beta-carotene). Heavily in demand, one drum of processed palm oil is sold at a moderately high price, at approximately 100 Ghana Cedi (GHc) or about 50 USD.
HEPENS is looking to expand its current Palm Oil Project in order to fund health projects and improve health outcomes in the village.
WHAT IS HEALTH PROTECTION AND ENVIRONMENTAL SANITATION? (HEPENS)?
Health Protection and Environmental Sanitation is a Ghanaian registered NGO in Cape Coast, Ghana. Founded in 2008 by an emergency nurse, Nicholas Baidoo, HEPENS has been the forefront of public and environmental health promotion in Ghana’s Central Region for the last 4 years.
HEPENS is looking to expand the Palm Oil Project to employ more women in the village of Kwamoano, as well as to fund the organization’s newest and largest project in the community: the HEPENS Clinic. Currently, the Palm Oil Project brings in the most amount of revenue into the organization and more women have expressed interest in getting involved. Once expanded, two women in the community, who are currently employed by the project, will oversee the project. They will be responsible for hiring 35 more women, bringing the total employed number to 60 women.
The creative outside-the-box thinking HEPENS has used to increase healthcare access in rural communities can easily be applied to other parts of West Africa to improve health outcomes for vulnerable populations.
CONNECTION TO OPERATION GROUNDSWELL
After working with HEPENS this summer, OG’s Global Health Program Leader, Sarindi, has never seen a more determined group of women, capable with their hands and as focused in their pursuits, as the women in Kwamoano. This project will further support the advancement of Kwamoano, by providing the tools to develop a sustainable business and community‐generated income, while also addressing the health provision needs that are present in these villages. As the new OG Global Health Program Leader, Sarindi hopes to showcase the work done by HEPENS in promoting public health in Ghana during this year’s summer programs.