Village Chief Kojo Kondua IV is leveraging a tiny investment of US foreign aid to train fishermen and to protect jobs and the environment in Abuesi, Ghana.
Kondua was alarmed at how over-fishing was impacting his community's pocketbooks and food supplies. As chief of Abuesi, a fishing village in western Ghana, he had to do something.
But telling fishermen to change the ways they've been fishing for decades is no easy task. Kondua joined seminars on sustainable management of marine life offered by the Ghanaian non-profit organizations, Coastal Resources Center and Friends of the Nation, with support from USAID. Armed with new information and tactics, he is bringing people together to hold the fishing regulatory agencies accountable for enforcing compliance with fishing regulations.
"We have to re-educate our fishermen to the right type of fishing. [We] help the Ghana government to build up a very good capacity for fishermen in this country," Chief Kondua says.
In his role as chairman of the Western Regional branch of the National Canoe Fishermen's Council, Chief Kondua's is encouraging fishermen to follow current laws and adopt good fishing practices in order to protect their livelihoods. This also includes health education and family planning.
Chief Kondua explains how family size and fishing practices are linked, "Whatever we do in the sea depends upon the children that you see now. If you get plenty children, you have to do all you can to bring more fish [in], whether good practice or not."
Kondua is also working to develop new laws to stop erosion and create marine-protected areas for the future of Abuesi and western Ghana because, as Chief Kondua shares,
"Be you a driver, a shopkeeper, a carpenter or a mason, anything—if you live here, you depend on the fishing."
In recent years, the US government launched policy reforms that make US foreign aid more accountable to you and local leaders like Chief Kondua.
Aid works best when it supports local actors to take action and change the circumstances which place or keep them or their fellow citizens in poverty—supporting them to build a dream, build a business, support their family, or help their community.
That's why Oxfam America is working to deepen the US government's commitment to making aid more effective. They can do so by putting more US aid dollars directly in the hands of people like Chief Kondua.
Note: Oxfam America doesn't take federal funds, but we do support effective development programs. In 2012, the Aid Effectiveness Team conducted research to highlight effective uses of the 1% of foreign aid the U.S. government spends on poverty reduction and other life-saving assistance. The people featured in this series are not necessarily receiving direct assistance from Oxfam.