MyPharm – A Story of Change with Farmers in Rural Ghana
Miguel Amortegui Salamanca
Youth Harvest Foundation Ghana
PhotoVoice worked in partnership with Christian Aid as part of on-going programme called MyPharm, which aimed to help rural farmers to increase income from their agricultural activities.
PhotoVoice delivered workshops with 42 farmers in 3 districts of Northern Ghana. Participants used photography to capture the benefits, challenges and successes experienced through Christian Aid’s programme over a one year period, thereby building a ‘story of change’.
In 2011 Christian Aid partnered with Youth Harvest Foundation Ghana (YHFG) to help farmers in Northern Ghana who faced exploitation in their farming practices. With little access to industry standards and information, farmers were selling their produce at prices substantially lower than the market rate to middlemen and traders causing a loss in vital income. Coupled with unpredictable weather changes affecting their cash crops, farmers were stuck in a cycle of poverty. This negatively impacted on their families and young people’s education.
Christian Aid and YHFG recognised that if the farmers improved their economic situation, they would be more likely to educate their children. This would lead to increased self-sufficiency and young people living in a healthier society, therefore breaking the cycle of poverty. Since 2011 Christian Aid and YHFG have been training famers in technical and business skills. They have also developed an innovative SMS service to send weekly figures on the market prices of produce and linked farmers with local MET offices to help them reduce their climate vulnerability.
In order to record the progress of the project, Christian Aid partnered with PhotoVoice to give 42 farmers cameras and photographic training. Ghanaian farmers were given a platform to voice their opinions about the project so they could tell their stories honestly and directly. The farmers over the course of a year took on the role as community monitors and documented their experiences. The PhotoVoice participatory photography project has also been used to help Christian Aid identify the capabilities, risks and actions for future projects.
Christian Aid’s Donor Communications Adviser, Amanda Farrant said:
“Putting a camera in their hands gives Ghanaian farmers a rare opportunity to highlight their needs and take more control over their lives. The result is a compelling set of images that portray a powerful message directly from the farmers.”
A local exhibition took place which showcased selected photographs to celebrate the achievement of participants, inform the wider community about the participatory photography project and community monitor network, and spread awareness of the aims and activities of the MyPharm project.
When asked 98% of participants reported an increased confidence in speaking in their communities about their feelings, 92% of participants reported increased ability to use the camera and take photographs, 83% of participants felt more confident in their communities working together to engage with MyPharm and 72% of participants reported an increased understanding of MyPharm in their communities.
An exhibition also took place in London at the Kahaila Café on Brick Lane, where a series of images were shown to the public. A panel discussion also took place with speakers Tom Elkins, CEO of PhotoVoice, and Libby Powell, CEO of On the Radar.