Community Based Information Campaigns for Disaster Preparedness and Risk Reduction with Focus on Youth and Children


Why did the CBDRM intervention take place

Tema Manhean is one of the high risk urban communities in the Tema Metropolis with an estimated population of over 71,711 (GSS, 2010 Population & Housing Census). The community is prone to flooding, disease (cholera) outbreak, fires, environmental and sanitation challenges, health hazards, pollution, chemical/gas explosions and fast developing slums due to constant migration and population growth.

Thousands of people are always affected in the event of flooding and other forms of disasters resulting in loss of lives, livelihood, and properties.

Statistics available in the June 3rd 2015 flood disaster indicates that about 6,593 people were affected with three (3) deaths reported. The number of houses and businesses affected totalled about 4,623 with an estimated economic losses and damages (water & sanitation, roads & housing) of about GHS 39,682,000 (Source: NADMO /City Strength Diagnostics Report, World Bank, 2016).

There was therefore the tremendous need for children, youth and women to be targeted and equipped with skills and knowledge to be at the centre of disaster preparedness, sanitation and environmental cleanliness and risk reduction campaigns in the community.

The project sought to mobilize and train children and youth to play a vital role in disaster risk reduction (DRR) activities in their communities, equipping them to design and implement DRR information campaigns, education, awareness raising, advocacy and practical risk reduction activities for their communities.

In all, three schools in the community were selected for the project. About 1,327 pupils, teachers and community and traditional leaders were directly involved. Youth groups (disaster volunteers) were also formed and trained.

What were the activities

We first undertook a baseline data collection in the community and schools to help understand the people’s perspective on the environmental and sanitation and disaster risk challenges in the community.

Meetings and sensitization workshops were organized for the community and some selected schools to brief them about the project and get their buy-in and inputs.

School clubs were formed in the schools with voluntary membership from pupils. Parents/guardians were made to sign a form to allow their wards to be part of the club with support by teachers and approval by the education authority.

Youth groups were formed with support from the local assembly representative and community leaders. The project team assisted them to come up with their activities so that they own the project. Youth groups were trained on rescue and swimming to avert drowning at the beaches during holidays. They organized clean-up exercises to desilt drains and assisted the community as first line responders in the event of flooding and other disasters in the community.

Debates, quizzes and drama performance, scavenger hunting etc. were organized for the school clubs to educate and create awareness on the environmental cleanliness, sanitation maintenance, and disaster risk. Schools were supported with buckets for hand washing (veronica bucket), wheelbarrows, fan brooms, and dustbins for their activities.

An information van was regularly used to educate the people together with the local radio station in the community. The team liaised with focal persons to help organize the people for meetings and durbars.

Who funded it

The Cities and Climate Change Project, Regional Institute for Population Studies (RIPS), University of Ghana, with support from the Tema Metropolitan Assembly (TMA).

What other factors were involved

The Greater Accra Metropolitan Area (GAMA) Project and the School Health Education Programme (SHEP) were involved.

How long was the project for?

The project period was for 2 years (2016 to 2017).


The community identified their own environmental challenges and prioritized and ranked their needs and proffered solutions. Series of meetings were held to discuss and elicit information from the people. Any activity that was undertaken emanated from members of the community based on our meetings with them. The team relied on the local knowledge and skills of community members to really understand the issues on the ground and developed on them. The school clubs and youth groups were assisted to develop their own activities on the environment and sanitation, disaster risk and its implementation, thus making them own the project. The local government, in this case the TMA, was involved in the project and offered all the necessary support especially on physical structures like storm drains desilting and construction, public toilet facilities, subsidized home toilet construction and enforcement of sanitation by-laws to complement the project. Key staff and departments of the local authority were involved in the planning, implementation and monitoring and evaluation of the project. The CBDRM activities were coordinated by forming a project team responsible for the coordination, planning and implementation. The focal persons in the communities were engaged at all times and feedback relayed to the community. Officers from the National Disaster Management Organization (NADMO) coordinated the project activities together with sponsors.
The main target group of the project were the most marginalised and at-risk groups. These were children, women and youth since they are the most vulnerable groups when disasters and emergencies occur.
CBDRM activities were developed by the local people, prioritized and ranked, using an indicator matrix, so the needs of the community were known and factored in the project implementation. However, there were certain needs that were capital intensive and could not be undertaken. An example is the dredging of the lagoon to expand its capacity to contain flood water and also construction of some storm drains in the area.


Other initiatives to sustain the project beyond the end of the programme include the celebration of the International Day for Disaster Reduction (IDDR) in the community with the partners. These initiatives would also be combined with low-cost mitigation activities to reduce risks such as clean-up exercises, desilting of drains, and early warning sensitization etc. This will be practiced in 2018.
People are now conscious about drowning prevention and safety and will therefore not drink and swim and stop swimming when it’s 6:00pm. This is due to the beach monitoring and rescue youth volunteers and has helped to mitigate drowning in the coastal community. Lifesaving jackets were also provided for the exercise. There is renewed interest and consciousness on sanitation and environmental issues in the community especially among youth and children. Children report others who dump indiscriminately and advise them to pick it up. By intervention of the project, rubbish that were dumped into the sea which is few meters from school was stopped by the provision of dustbins to the school. Tools and logistics are now available for the youth to use for clean-up exercises and desilting of drains. Some trees were planted at certain locations in schools and communities to serve as windbreaks and greening project. Two speed boats was provided for flood evacuation and for the drowning prevention and beach safety exercise. There is increased awareness on sanitation and environment maintenance. The perspectives of children and youth were incorporated in the project. There is a better understanding of better environmental practise, combined with a reduction in disaster risk. The project has also led to a safe and clean environment in some areas and schools.


CBDRM is addressed in Ghana’s DRM polices. There is a National Disaster Management Organization Act of Parliament (Act 927), along with a Medium Term Development Plan by local government and Integrated Climate Change Policy Management. The local level implementation of these plans is picked from the broader national programme of activities and objectives. The project was able to influence the plans at the local level by factoring the climate change issues in the Medium Term Development Plan by the Assembly. The organizations have relationships with national structures at the higher level that can standardise locally validated CBDRM working principles and be replicated in other local districts and regions.
Officials at the National Disaster Management Organization are responsible for coordinating CBDRM actions at the local level in collaboration with the local authority and Global Green Network. A project team is set up to oversee the planning, implementation and monitoring and evaluation. Our specific project really influenced the formation of the functional committee. Provisions in terms of technical assistance for capacity building of actors were enough as the team comprised technical officers from various departments and use of local skills and knowledge. However, the financial provision was inadequate in view of the several activities to be undertaken in the project.
The short-term funding options for such projects has not help to achieve the long-term desired impact. In view of this, long-term funding options will be much desired for such projects. CBDRM projects involve working with volunteers and, as such, providing incentives for such projects will boost their morale to contribute and be actively involved in the project. However, these incentives have not been enough and sustainable for CBDRM. Multiple and diversification of funding sources for projects to continue for a long term will be much desired.
There is increased knowledge and consciousness on the environment and sanitation, and climate change issues, as well as understanding of disaster risk among the youth, children, pupils, teachers and community at large. Learning materials were provided on climate change and disaster risk for teachers to include in the schools extracurricular activities (eg. debates, quizzes and scavenger hunts) in the selected schools. Some trees planted on the school compound and communities are available to be seen by all. Safe havens were identified by the community for possible evacuation. Tools and equipment were provided for community activities including clean up exercises, and desilting of choked drains. Through this project, the local development planning unit has fully integrated the CBDRM plans on climate change and environmental activities in its Medium Term Development Plan (MTDP 2018-2021) Local actors are periodically engaged in Town Hall meetings where their issues and challenges facing them are heard and factored into planning process of the local assembly/government.
There is a Disaster Management Committee at the local, regional and national level that oversee and advise on CBDRM plans and implementation. Education authorities have approved disaster risk, sanitation and climate change education in schools during the extracurricular activities at the local level where the project was implemented. The project was not fully implemented as planned due to inadequate funding. Some of the activities could not be implemented. However, more needs to be done by the local assembly in terms of providing social amenities like toilet facilities, dump sites, waste containers and attitudinal change among people. Because of financial constraints the project could not cover a large portion of the community. In conclusion, the project on DRR sought to address the flooding challenges and poor waste management and sanitation practices in the metropolis. It aimed to address the root cause of the problem by targeting children and youth in order to eliminate or drastically reduce the negative behavioral practices by the entire community. The implementation of the project would in no doubt be able to provide sustainable solutions if more funding sources are secured.