Youth Volunteerism: An Indispensable Force for Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Ghana

Youth Volunteerism: An Indispensable Force for Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Ghana

Ghana made great strides in achieving a significant number of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). For instance, according to UN-Ghana, the country performed creditably well in poverty reduction, access to safe drinking water, universal primary education and gender parity. Nonetheless, it is also true that slow progress was made in other crucial areas like achieving full and productive employment, women’s involvement in governance, reducing maternal mortality and, reversing the loss of natural resources and improving sanitation. Even though the MDGs’ period of achievement is over (2015), one can critically draw from the analyses that it has done some good and therefore more effort will be required to meet the unachieved MDGs and more importantly its successor the SDGs.

In every nation, ensuring the massive realisation of these all-important goals undeniably calls for total support and participation from the entire citizenry as well as the government. But I further believe strongly that, the youth have an extremely potent role to play in this regard as they constitute a greater proportion of the nation’s population. Besides, they are energetic, vibrant, adventurous and passionate, and would on any day want to push these goals at all levels. They are thus good vessels for accomplishing the SDGs. “if we neglect young people, we will not achieve a single SDG” emphasised the UN General Assembly President Miroslav Lajcak when addressing the 2018 ECOSOC Youth forum. Achieving the ambitious SDGs is estimated to cost $US 15 trillion more a year than the MDGs. There is every clear indication that governments alone cannot finance such colossal amounts.

It is precisely for this reason that we advocate strongly for volunteerism on the part of young people. Kofi Annan, former Secretary-General of the United Nations did put it succinctly when he said: “If our hopes of building a better and a safer world are to become more than wishful thinking, we will need the engagement of volunteers more than ever”. Indeed, whenever and wherever the spirit of volunteerism has been invoked, there has been a rapid and tremendous achievement of societal goals. This is so because volunteerism involves proactiveness, initiative and self-responsibility.

How Young people can volunteer to make the attainment of the SDGs a reality. 

There are diverse ways by which young people can volunteer to make the attainment of the SDGs a reality.

  • The first is through political leadership. We have a good number of young persons with key positions at both national and community levels. Examples include Assembly members, Members of Parliament, Political Party Executives and other organisational heads. They should use their platforms to campaign massively about the goals and more especially push for policy formulation to allow for proper implementation. In addition, these young leaders must mobilise their followers for collective action, particularly at the grassroots level.
  • The second is through the school system. Our educational institutions, right from basic to tertiary levels offer bountiful opportunities that the youth can utilise to hasten the achievement of the SDGs. Students for instance can form Clubs whose sole purpose will be to propagate the global goals as well as embark on practical activities that will translate into their better realisation. Besides, there are already existing clubs in most of our schools. That is, the Girl Guides, Boy Scout, Red Cross, Wildlife Society, Friends of the Earth, National Commission for Civic Education (N.C.C.E), among others. It will be extremely profitable if all these groups align themselves with the SDGs and design their activities in a manner that will contribute to the actualisation of the goals.

The role of civil society

The establishment of the Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) platforms for the SDGs and other CSOs partnerships with UN and other government agencies are all in the right direction and should be encouraged in the realisation of the SDGs. It is of great importance to create opportunities, spaces, and platforms for engaging and collaborating with these groups at the local level in order to promote dialogue, build community awareness, and develop strong relationships.  CSOs reach the hardest of the poor by providing services hardly delivered by government agencies.  They also have the capacity to monitor progress through data collection and reporting.

The role of the media in fast-tracking the attainment of the SDGs can no more be overemphasised. In the Information and Technological age, young people have at their disposal such a highly potent tool as the mass media that can be employed for rapid realisation of the SDGs. In other words, many of the youth possess Smartphones or at least have access to the internet. Using their social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and WhatsApp, they can easily volunteer by regularly putting out there valuable information on the SDGs. They can engage in debates and discussions and make practical suggestions in line with the goals.

Moreover, there is a need for young celebrities to get involved with global goals. In Ghana, there is an appreciable number of young stars who have a strong mass appeal that can be capitalised on to get the attention of the populace and elicit their support for the SDGs. For instance, some celebrities are accomplished sportspersons, filmmakers, musicians and the like. They should volunteer as SDGs Ambassadors and embark on community projects geared towards popularising the goals as well as improving the living standards of communities. Further, musicians and filmmakers should incorporate the goals into their creative works so that by entertaining their funs, they end up educating and inspiring them for action too.

It is true that collective efforts are needed to achieve collective goals. However, there is no denying that individual efforts also contribute to collective goals in the long run. Therefore, each young person on his or her own has much to offer. As a young person, you should not wait until you are told before you do the right thing. One should avoid littering, use water wisely, conserve electricity, shun indiscriminate cutting of trees, stay away from illegal mining and water pollution, and respect other people’s rights and liberties. Again, the individual should be proactive enough to put right anything that may pose a threat to especially human, animal and plant lives.

All in all, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are here to direct our actions as a global community and to hasten the realisation of our vision of a better, safer, and more joyous world. Governments alone cannot succeed in this agenda and this calls for the participation of all and sundry especially young people. And young people can play their part by volunteering through political leadership, the school system, the mass media, sports and entertainment as well as individual efforts. Let each person do his or her part and the achievement of the SDGs will be as sure as tomorrow’s Sun.

 

NOTE: Opinion expressed in this article are solely those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions or views of the West Africa Civil Society Institute.

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FIIFI BOATENG

Fiifi is a Ghanaian and currently serves as Communications and Information Officer at the West Africa Civil Society Institute. He joined the Institute in December 2020.

NANCY KANKAM KUSI

Nancy is a Ghanaian and currently serves as Programme Officer in the Knowledge Management unit at the West Africa Civil Society Institute. She joined the Institute in January 2021.

AGNES ADWOA ANIMA

Agnes is a Ghanaian and currently serves as Head of the Administration unit in the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). She joined the Institute in October 2021.

DORIS ODEI

Doris holds a Bachelor of Arts in Social sciences (Economics and Sociology) from the University of Cape Coast. She is passionate about impacting young lives hence co-founded Impart Foundation. A non-profit organization which seeks to empower young lives through education, technology and entrepreneurship.

PRINCE AKOWUAH

Prince Akowuah is a Ghanaian and currently the Programme Assistant in the Translation Unit at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). She joined the Institute in 2020.

MAXWELL APENTENG

Maxwell Apenteng is a Ghanaian and joined WACSI in September 2010. He provides gardening and janitorial services at the Institute.

GEORGE ADU-MINTAH

George Adu-Mintah is a Ghanaian and currently the Protocol Assistant/Driver at the West Africa Civil Society (WACSI). He joined the Institute in October 2006.

IBRAHIM KWAKU GBADAGO

Ibrahim Kwaku Gbadago is a Ghanaian. He joined the Institute in 2008 and provides janitorial services and assisting the institute's errands. Before joining the Institute, he worked at the Palestinian embassy in Accra, Ghana.

RUTH YAKANA

Ruth Yakana is from Cameroon and currently the Receptionist at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). She joined the Institute in 2020.

BETHEL KWAME BOATENG

Bethel is a Ghanaian. He provides technical and IT related support to the Institute. He joined the Institute in October 2006.

WHITNAY SEGNONNA

Whitnay Segnonna holds a Bachelor’s Degree in International Management from the University of Benin. With 2 years of experience, she has a strong knowledge of organizational and project management. Combined with her bilingualism, she is very passionate about her work. She joined WACSI as Project Assistant on Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) for the Capacity Development Unit.

STELLA YAWA WOWOUI

Stella Yawa Wowoui holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Translation Studies. She has a perfect grasp of both French and English, as well as an intermediate level in Spanish. She is currently working as a Project Assistant on the Techsoup Project.

KWAME ASANTE

Kwame is an experienced IT Consultant/Software Developer. He is skilled in Web Applications Development, Digital Security, Database Management, Digital Marketing and Brand Management. He holds a Bachelor's Degree in Information Technology and is a Microsoft Programme Alumni. He is currently serving as a Marketing and IT Officer on the Techsoup Project.

GRACE AKPENE ZIGGAH

Grace Akpene Ziggah is a Togolese and currently the Logistics Officer and also assists in administration duties at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). She joined the Institute in June 2009.

LILLIAN DAFEAMEKPOR

Lilian Dafeamekpor is a Ghanaian and currently the Assistant to the Executive Director at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). She joined the Institute in 2020.

JOHN P. FRINJUAH

John P. Frinjuah has expertise and interests in civil society, international development, democracy and governance, conflict, crisis, and security. He has extensive experience working with civil society and international development organizations where he supported and managed research, programmes, and provided technical assistance on a variety of themes around public policy, governance, and development. He is an alumnus of the University of Ghana and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy - Tufts University in the United States, with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy from two institutions respectively. John speaks English, French and several Ghanaian and regional West Africa languages.

GERVIN CHANASE

Gervin has extensive international development experience, including 5 years of policy advocacy and capacity building of grass root organisations. He has implemented over the years a combination of agriculture value chain, livelihood, food security and governance and rights programmes.
Prior to joining WACSI, Gervin worked on two USAID projects focusing on agriculture value chain development and governance in northern Ghana
Gervin holds a master’s degree in development & Governance from the University of Duisburg-Essen, Germany as well as a Masters in Global Studies from the Universities of Vienna (Austria), Leipzig (Germany) and California (Santa Barbara), USA. He is passionate social justice and inclusion.

LEANDRE BANON

Leandre Banon, Beninese, joined WACSI in September 2014 as Capacity Development Programme Assistant. Since then, he has worked in various units within the Institute to support operational and institutional capacity strengthening programmes for civil society in the region. Currently serving as Capacity Development Programme Officer at WACSI, his main responsibilities involve designing, planning, implementing and monitoring capacity development programmes for civil society constituents and grouping across the West Africa. Leandre is a certified Change the Game Academy Programme Trainer. His background lies in the areas of economics and development planning.

SAMUEL APPIAH

Samuel Appiah is a Ghanaian and currently the Programme Officer in the Finance and Administrative Unit at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). He joined the Institute in May, 2016.

JIMM CHICK FOMUNJONG

Jimm Chick Fomunjong, Cameroonian, joined WACSI in May 2018 as the Head of the Knowledge Management and Communication Units of the Institute. He has over ten years’ experience as a journalist and a development communications expert. He has a vast experience in supporting African organisations to strengthen their internal and external communications, building and sustaining relationships with the media and, leveraging on the power of social media to promote their mission. He is also excellent at supporting organisations to set up and operationalise functional communications and knowledge management systems. He has a deep passion and expertise in supporting Africans and African civil society organisations to document their praxis, share and learn from experiences documented from the African civil society sector.

FRANCK A. SOMBO

Franck Sombo is a development practitioner with the drive to lead self and others to influence productivity and efficiency. His work involves supporting organisations to develop strategic plans, design monitoring and evaluation systems, develop and use relevant performance measurement tools to track progress, assess organizational growth and institutionalise learning. Franck has eight years of experience working with WACSI where he currently serves as the Head, Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning. His academic qualifications include Masters in Organisations’ and Projects’ Management, and in Business Sciences and a High National Diploma in Finance and Accounting.

Franck is a Fellow of the International Program for Development Evaluation Training (IPDET) and a graduate of the Graduate Training Institute (GTI) - Ghana with specialization in Strategic Management and Corporate Leadership. He has a rich experience in Project Management, Capacity Development, Strategic planning, Data Analytics, Monitoring and Evaluation, Training and Facilitation, Mentoring and Coaching among others.

OMOLARA T. BALOGUN

Omolara is a development practitioner and advocacy strategist with over 10 years progressive experience in development programming targeted at strengthening civil society in West Africa. She joined WACSI in November 2009 as an Advocacy Consultant. And later became the first Policy Advocacy Officer in 2010 and Head of Policy Influencing and Advocacy unit in 2015. As head, she offers strategic direction to the institutes’ ambitions to connect and convene groups of organized and organic civil society actors; and influence regional and global discourses on crosscutting policy issues including—civil society regulations, sustainable development goals, civic space and enabling environment, aid effectiveness, gender equality.


Previously, Omolara served as a Service Development Marshal at TVQ Consulting Group, a customer service firm focused on designing strategic customer relationship and business growth plans for private and public financial institutions in Nigeria. She also served as a Programmes Associate with the Women in Peace and Security Network-Africa where she teamed up to design and implement two programmes on—multidimensional peace support operations and gender mainstreaming in security sector reform in Ghana, Sierra Leone and Liberia.

KWABENA KRODUAH

Kwabena Kroduah is a Ghanaian and currently heads the Finance Unit at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). He joined the Institute in January 2008.

CHARLES KOJO VANDYCK

Charles currently serves as the Head of the Capacity Development Unit at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). Charles has over 10 years of experience working in international development and social justice issues in Africa. Charles has expertise in strengthening civil society and public agencies including the design and implementation of governance and leadership programmes, development of knowledge pieces and policy advice. Charles was the founding Board Chair of Innovation for Change (i4C)-Hub Afrique, as well as the founding member of the International Consortium on Closing Civic Space (iCon), an initiative of the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington DC. Charles currently serves as the Member of the Governing Board (Coordination Collective) of Africans Rising. He is a Member of the Development Studies Association, United Kingdom. Charles is a 2017 Stanford University Fellow for Nonprofit Leaders and a certified Change the Game Resource Mobilisation Trainer.

NANA ASANTEWA AFADZINU

Nana Afadzinu is a Ghanaian and currently serves as the Executive Director of the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). She joined the Institute in October 2010.