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Learning Festivals Spread Grassroots Multi-Faith Organizing Across Ghana

The FAITH in Ghana Alliance held two learning festivals in Southern and Northern Ghana in November 2023 to advance multi-faith community organizing as a strategy for transforming Ghana. More than 110 clergy and grassroots leaders participated, with the majority from 18 pilot community FAITH alliances organized during 2023.

Taking the time to ask people what changes they want

Leading up to the Learning Festivals, grassroots leaders listened to 4,241 of their neighbors through one-on-one meetings to hear what changes people want to see in their communities. Fourteen community FAITH alliances followed up with Durbars (traditional assemblies) to validate the results of their listening and select a priority issue. The local FAITH alliances, which represent some of the most neglected communities, are organizing on a range of issues, including building technical high schools, expanding health clinics, sanitation facilities, clean water, and repairing homes and a bridge destroyed by a dam overflow.

Investing in the Grassroots Leadership Development

Grassroots leaders shared what they are learning as they build teams and organize their communities, and prepared for the next stages of their organizing: research, negotiation, and action. Participants role played a negotiation over Lithium mining and talked about the structural challenges to development in Ghana. Despite the mineral wealth of the country, the government allocates only five percent of annual revenue to local development, and much of that funding never reaches communities with the most needs. Direct appointment by the President of all metropolitan, municipal, district, and regional political heads (District Chief Executives and Regional Ministers) leads to high levels of patronage, and projects abandoned when there is a change in government.

Holding Local Government Accountable to Organized Communities

The FAITH in Ghana Alliance has built regional FAITH alliances in ten of the sixteen regions in Ghana, and plans to build dozens of local community FAITH alliances across the country, beginning in areas facing the greatest challenges. The Alliance is aiming to create accountability at the local level for development and build an agenda and constituency for larger-scale policy changes that promote greater investment in education, health, and locally-led development. As one participant in the Northern Learning Festival said, “I now understand that community development cannot happen without community leadership.”

Building a National Multi-Faith Movement

The FAITH in Ghana Alliance brings together eight of the largest Muslim and Christian religious bodies in the country, including the Office of the National Chief Imam, Federation of Muslim Women’s Associations in Ghana, Ahmadiyya Muslim Mission, Ghana Pentecostal and Charismatic Council, Christian Council of Ghana, National Catholic Secretariat, Caritas Ghana, and Marshallan Relief and Development Services (MAREDES), a Catholic lay society. Since 2016, the Alliance has played a pivotal role in pressing politicians to abide by election results and refrain from political violence and conflict, and has been an important national voice against corruption and environmental abuse. In 2021, the Alliance began working with Faith in Action International to use multi-faith community organizing to build a broad base of participation across Ghana.

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Donate to support grassroots multi-faith organizing in Ghana here. All donations doubled before December 31.

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