Economic system

How the courage of young people created a strong post-pandemic socio-economic system in Ghana

It is one of 38 winning blogs in the Blog4Dev 2021 competition, the World Bank’s annual writing competition in Africa, inviting young people to express themselves on a subject essential to the economic development of their country. Blog4Dev winners answered the question: How can young people work with their governments and civil society organizations to respond to the impact of COVID-19 and build a stronger post-pandemic economic and social system?

It is March 2030, 10 years since the global COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic was first confirmed in Ghana. I sit with popular television host, Aseye, in the state-of-the-art studios of Youth Transforming Africa TV to talk about youth work during the period that maximized socio-economic gains in Ghana.

The cameras have rolled and the lights are on.

Aseye: You are welcome Dziedzom on YTA TV. It is an honor to have you with us today. So tell me, what happened?

Dziedzom: {Smiles} Thank you Aseye for inviting me. {Sighs} In Ghana, the impact of COVID-19 has been dire, but for young people it has been torn apart. Many were out of school, saw spiraling job losses, faced food insecurity, increased inequality and more frequent cases of sexual violence and mental health crises. Plagued by the challenges of COVID-19 caused by its corollary effects, Ghanaian youth have shown courage in the face of incredible declines in growth.

Here’s how:

• Education: With the power of social media and additional digital platforms, young people have started the phase by fighting fake news and busting myths that have been widely peddled. By leveraging young people’s visibility on social media and partnering with radio stations, youth health workers offered expert advice, created awareness and raised awareness in communities . This has reduced the stigma, anxiety and apathy associated with the virus.

• Innovation: At the height of the pandemic, young people again came forward with various ingenious ideas and inventions to help curb the spread and those infected. Some of these inventions included the automated Veronica bucket, a rapid diagnostic test kit, and the locally made ventilators built by KNUST students. Through innovative digital financial platforms created by young people, they have succeeded in building a cashless economy.

• Advocacy and support systems: A network of young people has developed, devoid of ethnic and religious preferences and political party affiliations. Young people like me started to form a coalition of activists advocating to support the mental health of many out-of-school children, especially girls. The sole objective was to work in tandem as a team with great synergy to help the less fortunate and bridge the inequality gap. Many abused girls received help. Thanks to nationwide youth crowdfunding and volunteerism, food and PPE has reached every nook and cranny of Ghana. Organizations like the FCA Experience, a youth-led fashion agency, have carried out a one million mask project for rural communities to augment government efforts.

• Agriculture: There were food shortages throughout the country. The unemployed youth have ventured their energies into agriculture. Defending the popular hashtag #operationfeedyourselfandvosvoisins that sparked the backyard farming trend, there was plenty of food and increased food security.

Today I vividly remember the song “We Go (Our Song of Hope)” by one of Ghana’s biggest music exports to the world, Osibisa. I can say with confidence that “the road was hard, muddy and bumpy, but we got there”, thanks to the courage of the young people.

Aseye: That’s great, Dziedzom! Thanks for coming.

Timothy D. Amaglo-Mensah is the winner of the 2021 Ghana Blog4Dev competition. See the full list of Blog4Dev 2021 winners here and read their blog posts.