Assemblies of God relief and Development Services (AGREDS), is a national NON PROFIT organization that has facilitated development interventions for individuals, groups and communities and has over the years obtained legitimacy from both state and non-state actors. AGREDS provides nondiscriminatory services to all UNHCR’s target population and have had the opportunity to partner with other national and international organizations.
Since its establishment in 1991, AGREDS have partnered with organizations such as DANIDA, the Government of Ghana, UNHCR, UNICEF, Christian Children’s Fund of Canada (CCFC) and the local Assemblies of God churches across the country to deliver tailor-made interventions.
In the area of self-reliance and livelihood improvement, AGREDS has over the years adopted the approaches which have often given UNHCR desired results and impact.
A strategy used to reduce dependence on UNHCR assistance, and promote self-reliance is skills training and its complementary services. AGREDS managed a programme for Liberians until 2011, and began to roll out skills training for Ivorian refugees in 2012. To date, some 1,780 persons (out of 4,330 people of working age) have been trained in English language, vocational/technical skills, business management or benefitted from agricultural assistance.
Start-up kits were distributed to 606 graduates from 2012, and of these, some 150 small businesses have sprung up all around the camps. AGREDS has supported 20 groups of 38 individuals in small business establishment on the camp including in trades such as bakery, ICT and beauty care. In order not to limit their scope for marketing their skills/products, negotiations have begun with authorities in the host community markets to obtain space for PoC to set up small businesses. This is in order to widen their market and prevent a situation where only other refugees patronize goods on sale. Some PoC have also taken the initiative to obtain employment in teaching French in host community schools.
AGREDS has facilitated entrepreneurship and business skills training for refugees across all camps. The purpose of the training on Entrepreneurship and business skills training is to develop personal qualities and attitudes, and to impart knowledge and insight into how the refugees can see opportunities and develop these in sustainable business enterprises.
A pilot greenhouse project was initiated in the Egyeikrom camp to advance the socio economic power of refugees through Agriculture. It is expected that the yield from the vegetable farming will be enough for some 10 families. Eight and five acres of land were acquired for farming by PoC in Fetentaa and Egyeikrom respectively. In the case of the Ampain Camp, which lacks farming space PoC were supported with farm implements to help them in their farming/backyard garden activities as land acquisition is a challenge.
Self-reliance through skills training takes time to show life transformation as its effectiveness is linked to other associated conditions occurring simultaneously (access to market, availability of electricity, financial support, and provision of start-up kits and materials in the requisite quantities. A decisive strategy to translate skills training into self-reliance is AGREDS’ focus for 2014 and 2015.
AGREDS works in collaboration with other stakeholders such as the National Vocational Training Institute (NVTI), UNIDO, the National Board for Small Scale Industries (NBSSI), Non-formal education unit of the Ghana Education Service, district assemblies and the Ghana Refugee Board (GRB), as well as other IPs to provide vocational skills training, small business support to Ivorian refugees at the camps; as well as refugees of other nationalities.
AGREDS supports the establishment of refugee self-management structures which is responsible for the management of activities related to skills training ensures transparency in selection of beneficiaries on the project.