McGill gets $3.5 million for Ghana project

Funds over the next five years will help ease food insecurity issues

By Kevin Woodhouse

For the Ghanian people, food insecurity is a daily concern as almost four in ten children have stunted growth, one third of all childhood mortality is caused by malnutrition and many in the African country live on less than $1.25 a day.

But Ghana, thanks to a grant from the federal government of $3.5 million over the next five years, will be getting much needed aid from McGill’s School of Dietetics and Human Nutrition at the MacDonald campus in Ste. Anne de Bellevue.

Last Thursday, Senator Larry Smith, on behalf of International Development Minister Christian Paradis, was at McGill’s Macdonald campus in Ste. Anne de Bellevue to bestow the research money to team leader professor Grace Marquis who will continue her work bringing food security to the region of the Upper Manya Krobo, Ghana, an isolated portion of the country with very few roads and infrastructure.

Smith told the assembled that the federal government has “brought significant help through international development since 1982 and the government has supported more than 100 projects to date.

“With more than 70,000 residents in the rural area where 80 percent of all industry is farming, this grant will improve the health services for the families in Ghana,” said Smith.

Marquis and her team will coordinate with the University of Ghana’s professor Esi Colecraft as well as World Vision Ghana and Heifer International Ghana. Within the next half decade, 3,000 homes and their families will be tracked in order to improve on food security,health, education and enabling the farmers to improve their businesses in order to hire more local workers, thereby growing the local economy.

Marquis also wants to help the families implement backyard gardens as well as getting access to microcredit loans in order to “improve the lives of local communities, strengthen families, get healthier children and empower women as too many young girls quit school by Grade 4.

“This project provides an exciting opportunity for us to implement the research lessons learned over the last decade in rural Ghana,” said Marquis who had recently returned from a research visit. “It will allow us to demonstrate the benefits gained by integrating nutrition into all areas of rural development and providing coherent messages along with the necessary skills and tools to implement them.”

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