Despite its status as a middle income country, 28% of children in Ghana live in poverty.1 Poverty is concentrated in the northern, rural districts where CAMFED works2, where up to 40% of the population lives below the international poverty line of $1.90 per day.3  

CAMFED Ghana launched in 1998, working in the Northern Region, and by 2020 was operating in four regions and 31 districts. In the communities where we work, chronic poverty excludes many girls from education, with only 22% of children in poor rural households enrolling in secondary school.4  This persistent poverty pushes vulnerable girls into unsafe work or child marriage.

To support themselves and their family’s basic needs, large numbers of girls head to urban areas to work as street porters, referred to as kayayo, at city markets, making them vulnerable to abuse and exploitation. Or, with few economic prospects open to them in their villages, young women face pressure to marry early in order to reduce the financial burden on their families.

Over 26% of girls nationwide are married before their 18th birthday5, and in northern Ghana rates can be as high as 40%.6 As early marriage limits girls’ skills, resources, knowledge, social support, mobility, and autonomy, they often have little power in relation to their husband, putting them at greater risk of domestic violence, HIV/AIDS and early pregnancy. For married girls and young mothers, this only entrenches the cycle of poverty as out-of-school they lack the resources and support to enter secure employment. On the other hand, women who have been able to attain a secondary school level of education or higher marry later than and have children at almost half the rate compared to women with only a primary school education.7 

"Although it may seem like Ghana is doing well, if you scratch below the surface, there is a big gap between urban and rural, rich and poor. What CAMFED Ghana is doing is building networks and relationships around the poorest, most marginalized girls – they are succeeding because they have all these people around them.

What motivates me to go to work every day is what will happen to these girls in the future. I can see the potential of every one of them, and there’s not one single girl who has ever disappointed me. The moment you invest your time and resources in a girl, you can see the change in her – in the way she talks, the way she walks, the way she thinks. And you can see the change in her community, as she and her sisters in the CAMFED Association — our network of women leaders — support more girls as Learner Guides and role models."

Dolores Dickson, Former Regional Executive Director, CAMFED West Africa, and Current CAMFED Executive Director, Canada and Global Programs

Nimatu Siisu, a member of the CAMFED Association (CAMA) of women leaders educated with CAMFED support, recounts her personal story of transformation through education, as she pays forward the benefits of her schooling, supporting a new generation of girls to stay in school, learn, thrive, and become leaders in their own right.

  • 90,449

    Students supported with secondary scholarships

    CAMFED provides holistic and targeted support for girls to go to secondary school, covering needs that might include school or exam fees, uniforms, sanitary wear, books, pens, bikes, boarding fees or disability aids.

  • 123,042

    Students supported to go to primary school

    CAMFED's Safety Net Fund for partner primary schools provides essential items for children at primary school to prevent them from dropping out of school.

  • 1,189

    Partner Schools

    CAMFED works in genuine partnership with government schools to help improve the learning environment for all students. Sharing information on school performance and working with the community to implement change is crucial to success.

  • 60,512

    Community Champions

    CAMFED's program works because of the commitment of local community champions and activists. These volunteers include everyone from traditional leaders to government education officials, teachers, parents, and former students.

  • 32,745

    CAMFED Association

    Members of the CAMFED Association - the largest network of its kind in Africa - offer peer support, mentoring, and training and leadership opportunities, and spearhead our programs.

  • 386,410

    Students supported by community initiatives

    CAMFED Association members partner with their communities to support more vulnerable children to go to primary and secondary school, by providing school meals, paying school fees, buying supplies, or providing a home to orphans, for example.


1. UNICEF (2020) Multi-Dimensional Child Poverty in Ghana, p.63, https://www.unicef.org/ghana/media/2676/file/Multi-Dimensional%20Child%20Poverty%20Report.pdf, (accessed 05 May 2020)

2. Ibid p.23/24, The Upper East and Northern regions have the highest proportions of multidimensionally poor children (Figure 4), 86.7 and 86.6 percent respectively.

3. World Bank (2015), p.18, http://documents.worldbank.org/curated/en/258711468255281103/pdf/Ghana-Poverty-profile-final-2.pdf, (accessed 05 May 2020)

Republic of Ghana: Poverty and Inequality Profile Overall poverty trends show that the share of the population living in poverty in 2013 was 22.1% nationwide, 38.2% in rural areas, and 10.4%  in urban areas.

4. Overseas Development Institute (2009), Regional Inequality and Secondary Education in Ghana , p. 3, https://www.odi.org/sites/odi.org.uk/files/odi-assets/publications-opinion-files/3375.pdf, (accessed 06 May 2020)

In 2005/06, at the secondary level, net and gross enrolment was been 36.1% and 44.2% in poor urban households compared with 57.7% and 72.6% in non-poor urban households. In rural areas, net and gross enrolment was 22.3% and 39.1% in poor rural households compared with 25.6% and 45.0% in non-poor rural households (Coulombe and Wodon, 2007: 67)

5. Ghana Maternal Health Survey (2017), https://www.dhsprogram.com/pubs/pdf/FR340/FR340.pdf, p.30, (accessed 03 May 2020)

6.  UNICEF/Republic of Ghana Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection (2016), Fact Sheet on Child Marriage in Ghana, p.3, https://www.unicef.org/ghana/media/1671/file/Fact%20Sheet%20-%20Child%20Marriage.pdf, (accessed 06 May 2020)

7. Brookings (2016), What Works in Girls’ Education, p. 36/49 https://www.brookings.edu/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/What-Works-in-Girls-Educationlowres.pdf, (accessed 06 May 2020)

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