The population of Ghana is now about 33 million.
Ghana is situated in West Africa, just a few degrees north of the Equator. Ghana shares common boundaries with Togo in the east, Burkina Faso in the north, the Ivory Coast in the west, and the Atlantic Ocean in the south. A former British colony known as the Gold Coast, Ghana was the first sub-Saharan African country to gain independence, in 1957. With a population of about 33 million people belonging to as many as 75 different tribal groups, Ghana is foremost an agricultural country with approximately 50 percent of the labor force in agriculture. The country’s official language is English, although there are a variety of local languages.
Ghana is well endowed with natural resources. It has roughly twice the per capita output of the poorest countries in West Africa. Even so, Ghana remains heavily dependent on international financial and technical assistance. Yet, despite Ghana’s relative prosperity, poverty remains pervasive in the country, with half of the population living under the poverty line.
The problem is that despite the existence of a well established extended family network Ghana has responded to the twin stress of the HIV/AIDS epidemic and rural–to-urban migration with a sudden mushrooming of an unprecedented number of orphanages, estimated to be 139 in number nationwide. The majority of the almost 3,500 children living in un-registered and unregulated “orphanages” in Ghana are not actual orphans, and the main factor leading to their institutionalization is poverty, not death of the parents.
Extended families are often the first protective safety net for children who lose their parents. OAfrica is implementing programs to strengthen extended family childcare by providing support services and alternative care solutions.