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NGOs in Ghana – intial reflections on group project & trip

et502's picture

While in Ghana, I couldn’t help but think about my group’s discussion of NGOs in Ghana and their work, and compare these things to the realities that we saw on the ground. I still have a lot of questions, but my post is long overdue, so observations + questioning will have to be sufficient for now!

During our project, one of the more resonant questions for me was, “How do NGOs collaborate and is this collaboration successful?” I think this question guided some of my observations during the trip.


Observations: Looking around the Dalun Youth Association (DYA) building, I saw some posters, asked some questions. All this happened very quickly, so I’m not 100% this is the correct information, but I’ll relay what I remember and wrote down.

DYA exists to bring the youth together – students gather here and “because they are together, they are stronger and can advocate for the needs of the community, what they see the community needs to develop” (field notes), like new roads to Tamale (which I would also advocate for, for both selfish and unselfish reasons). DYA uses sports as a tool for development – in this rural community, athletic competition is a perfect way to bring people together, both young and old. Once the people are gathered, the youth can spread their message of change. And this message is much more powerful coming from a vibrant, organized youth group.

Baraca, one of the teachers at Titagya, told me that these gatherings are important because they are opportunities to educate the “opinion leaders” of the community, who in turn, influence the elders of the community.

The DYA, from what Baraca and others told me, is a very important organization. But it needed support from outside organizations.

- Rotary club from Denmark built the building that houses DYA

- The Youth Opportunity Partnership Programme (YOPP) is a Ghanaian NGO that is focused on development through sports and international connection/communication  

- YOPP is supported by the Danish Gymnastic and Sports Association (DGI), who in turn are supported by the Danish Foreign Ministry.


Some questions that I still have:

  • How did all of these organizations get connected? What it from the inside out or outside in?
  • I’d like to know what came first, DYA or YOPP – how these two are influencing each other?
  • How effective is DYA? How important is collaboration? –is it merely funding, or is it more substantial mentorship? What is the relationship/power dynamic between DYA and all these other organizations?
  • How small is the world, really?


Emmanuel 's picture

The YOPP -DYA Connection

At the outset I'd like to make the distinction between the two organizations in terms of their structure and tenure. DYA an amalgamation of smaller youth associations with the Dalun skin area which groups hitherto operated independently. As rightfully capture by yourself, the aim of this is to harness youthful resources and resourcefulness to the socioeconomic transformation of the Dalun community. This is to be realized through collaboration and networking with individuals and organizations that share in the aims and objectives of DYA. Thus the DGI, YEfL,NYC etc. connection. In the course of its operations the idea of a bigger organization that will champion the course of the youth and community development of northern Ghana was muted and thus the youth opportunity partnership programme(yopp) borne. Therefore YOPP is a brainchild of the DYA. Though a strategic policy document for YOPP was developed earlier it didn't see implementation until 2009, due to lack of funding.
Similar to DYA, YOPP is an umbrella organization of nine local youth associations(LYAs) of nine communities within the Kumbungu and Savelugu districts of northern region of Ghana. It has a board which membership is drawn from the different LYAs. I must mention though that membership of YOPP is by application. That is LYAs apply to be admitted as members.

In partnership with DGI, DYA successfully implemented the first phase of the ST4D project. This implementation gave youths and youth leaders the opportunity to learn leadership skills, lobbying and financial reporting skill. Some LYAs recieved computers and basic training in computing as support for the report writing and other administrative work. so you can say its not been just collaboration but mentoring as well. There's also the cross-cultural learnings that come with the interaction of Dane and Ghanaian youth within the project.
With YOPP incharge of the implementation of the ST4D now power is evenly distributed. Indeed the general assembly of the YOPP is the highest decision making body at which assembly every member association is equally represented.

In terms of how really small the world is, xI think to the extent that we still have transportation and communication challenges the world of DYA and YOPP is removed from the rest . I hope I've been able to provide sufficient answers to your questions.

alesnick's picture

following up about Dalun

Dear Emmanuel,

Thank you for writing here to share important information. I would appreciate the opportunity to exchange more information and perspectives about work in Dalun, as my work there continues.  If you would, please email me at I hope this finds you well.  

Best regards,

Alice Lesnick

alesnick's picture

noticing and digging

This post is a great example of the merging of observation and study -- and the loop between them.  It also points up how complex community organizations are, and what a process it is to learn about them, and from their stories. Your questions also point to deeper challenges in understanding ngo's in postcolonial contexts.  How does this inform your thinking?