Published on: 01/04/2011
“Every year I select 4 or 5 villages and ask inhabitants what they really need. I don’t impose anything on them. Some of the 210 villages ask for toilets, other villages ask for a clinic, a school or water facilities. We try to find a way to turn their requests into something real.”
These are not the words of a district planner or even a traditional NGO. The speaker is King Safrotwe Kakradae IV from Ghana.
When Safrotwe Kakradae IV was crowned in 2007 and became the ruler of the Aduana-Abrade clan, originating from Akwapim South district of Ghana (Aduanahene & Kingmaker), he had been living and working in the Netherlands for more than 10 years. He studied at the TU Delft, did strategic management in Amsterdam and then became a king.
“I decided to accept the role of the kingship for two reasons. My family would not have forgiven me if I didn’t accept this role. Besides I considered it a higher calling and inner assignment to help create a better and sustainable life for my people. That way they can also actively contribute to improving the world. However, this was only possible if I had an influential position”. And he added: “I knew that the experience accumulated from the years I worked in the Netherlands as strategic and performance management consultant would be useful.”
Leaking roofs and rainwater
“I am proud to have accomplished some of the Foundation’s goals”, he said. “We built a new primary school in Coaltar, a clinic in Adamrobe, toilets for a village in Edipa as well as a vocational school.” The King in Ghana Foundation, the Kofi Annan Foundation and personal resources helped build this vocational school for agriculture, catering, hair-dressing, seamstress, auto-mechanic, carpentry, painting, building construction, economics and ICT studies in Edipa. It was due to receive its first students on 1 April 2011.
The whole school – and indeed all the construction work – relies on rainwater since there is no other source at the moment. “During the projects we constructed a water-tank to store the rainfalls which is now used for flushing the toilets. The rainwater was also used for building the remaining facilities to complete the project. We intend setting up a swimming pool, a hostel, kitchen and a football field for the school and our source of water will again be rainwater,” said the King. More resources are needed to finish these facilities. The King expects that students’ fees will generate part of the resources needed and he is also looking for new sponsors.
The King at the Coaltar school
The King in Ghana Foundation has dramatically upgraded the Coaltar primary school. “I saw that when it rains, the water gets into the classrooms while the children are having classes. It was really sad to see. I realised that a new school building must be put-up for the children. I thank God that this has also been realised. Nevertheless, the classrooms still need to be painted, windows and doors have to be placed, and the school needs more toilets and a new kitchen to complete this project.
The school project started in September 2010 and in December 2010 the main classrooms were completed. With more classrooms the school has been able to admit more students. “We recruited a new teacher to cope with the growth. The teachers are paid from a small contribution from the parents.”
Supporting villages to become open defecation free
The King in Ghana Foundation has also accomplished a toilet project in Edipa. The inhabitants were complaining that it wasn’t safe going into the bush for defecation at night. It was also harmful for women, especially in the menstrual period. “We built toilets and implemented some policies governing the usage of the toilet. For instance, when someone is found defecating in the bushes he or she gets a fine. This was decided in a meeting with the community. Now the village is free of open defecation”. One person from the village is made responsible for the maintenance of the toilet building. The community give him monthly salaries for the job. He cleans the toilet; he makes sure people keep the toilet clean and flushes the toilets at the end of the day. See video for more information:
The King has also set up a project where micro-credits are provided to women who sell little items on the market. This “Royal Black Queens” project started in June 2010 and has now granted micro-credit to 420 women. This has enabled most of the women to create a continuous cash flow which has improved the standard of living of their families, especially the children. Women are able to pay school fees, pay for health care and give their children healthier food. Micro-credit does not abolish poverty, but it helps parents create better futures for their children. Free training has been provided for the women in basic computer knowledge. From April 2011, they will also be able to learn to read and write. At this moment, there are about 1,500 women on the waiting-list hoping to get micro-credit. All investors who put their money in the micro-credit get 5% interest per annum. See www.royalblackqueens.com
The Foundation is planning to work on twinning schools between Ghana and the Netherlands. It is also looking for further sponsoring to improve and finalise the projects that the Foundation supports. You can read about this on the Foundation’s website at http://www.kinginghana.nl/
Lessons from a King
“I would advise people interested in starting projects in Ghana to involve the right persons. For instance, it is very important to know who owns the land you plan to build on or you could find yourself involved in legal problems” says Safrotwe Kakradae IV. He also says: “I learnt that it is essential to look for a good contractor or you spend too much time coordinating. Community labour is cheaper but you need to find someone who takes the responsibility so that you get what you planned for.”
Setting a royal trend?
The trend set at the kingdom of Safrotwe Kakradae IV could become a model for other kings. It is clear that the King’s past experiences in the Netherlands and his family ties will continue to strengthen the bridge between institutions in the Netherlands and projects in Ghana. The need for such facilities as the King in Ghana Foundation supports is great. It is now up to the Foundation, the communities and the sponsors to make sure the facilities and the positive results will last.
Fetching water in Coaltar related video:
By Caridad Machín Camacho from IRC who interviewed the king while documenting progress in some of these villages during 2 days in March 2011. The text was edited by Sascha de Graaf and Peter McIntyre.
[i] The region “King Safro” is located on the Eastern Region, 25 km from Accra, the capital of Ghana. It has 1.200.000 inhabitants in around 210 villages.