Clipper Delivers The Goods For Female Market Traders In Ghana

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Clipper Delivers The Goods For Female Market Traders In Ghana

As specialists in getting goods from A to B, Clipper Logistics Group understands the vital importance of transport management. As part of their commitment to international social responsibility, they have assigned Charlotte (Charlie) Anderson, Northern Transport Manager, to work with a team of professional volunteers on a pioneering development project in Ghana managed by international transport charity, Transaid.  The charity is implementing a pilot scheme in a community of 1,000 female market workers, and is instrumental in securing a sustainable transport management solution to meet their daily livelihood needs.

Charlie has worked on a number of key assignments for Transaid during the past couple of years and is going to be supporting the Transport Officer during the first two weeks of the vehicle operation. Truck manufacturer, Iveco, has donated 3 Iveco Dailys towards the project, and a group of enthusiastic and dynamic Ghanaian women form the core team responsible for implementing the project on a daily basis.

Women are the lifeblood of Accra’s markets and these female market traders face exceptionally daunting difficulties every day of their lives. Reliance on unsuitable and unreliable transport is expensive, time-consuming and unsafe, with the risk of theft or assault posing a likely threat. Walking and waiting for transport means a punishing working day can stretch between 4am to 11pm, severely affecting health and well-being, permitting the women no time for family or community life. The lack of any real alternatives leaves a high proportion of women in a helpless situation, with high transport costs transferring onto goods, ultimately passing onto the buyers of basic commodities from these markets.

The proposed project will provide female market traders with the means of designing and controlling a transport service that will improve their personal safety and livelihoods, grow their businesses and allow them to live a fuller family and community life.

Why does this situation exist?

Women in Ghana are rarely if ever involved in the planning, management and operation of transport systems, although these decisions affect their mobility, livelihoods, employment opportunities and commercial activities.

The traders have to rely on transport run by public and private operators – the tro-tro, taxis and buses.  It is common practice for drivers of buses and tro-tros to refuse women access if they are carrying quantities of goods, and for taxi drivers to demand that the women take the whole taxi rather than share.

But access to vehicles themselves is only part of the problem.  Even if they owned their own vehicles, they don’t have the skills to drive, maintain or run them effectively because traditionally women do not own or operate transport.  You see few women car drivers, and every aspect of public transport is in the man’s domain.

What are the effects?

This reliance on unsuitable and unreliable transport is expensive, time-consuming and unsafe.

Depending on commodity, transport costs represent up to 40% of average turnover for cooperative members.  The lack of current alternatives leaves them helpless to change this, which means high transport costs get passed on to those who come to buy basic commodities from the markets.

But it isn’t just the high cost of transport that affects the women traders, walking and waiting for transport means that a working day can stretch between 4am and 11pm.

This affects their health and wellbeing, and that of their children, and leaves the women no time for family and community life.

Because transport is so costly and time-consuming, and the risk of theft is high, some women choose to stay with their products at the market site until that batch is sold.  This means staying away from their homes overnight on a regular basis, often keeping the younger children of the household with them.  This exposes them to the risk of theft or assault.

What is the solution?

Women market traders function in well structured and highly organised co-operatives and commodity guilds.  A committee structure exists that brings together representatives of the specialist guilds to discuss common issues, problems and concerns.

An extensive consultation with women from various guilds, and the commodity “queens”, who head the guilds, has demonstrated that they are highly motivated to set up an alternative transport system – a Women’s Transport Co-operative.

The project is now in stage two which will see the women trained by Charlie and her co-volunteers to drive, maintain and cost-effectively implement their own transport management system (TMS) using the Iveco Dailys. The women are keen to use Transaid’s transport management system to operate their businesses properly and to fund the purchase of further vehicles. It is hoped that by extending into other parts of the region, thousands of other female market traders will also benefit from this powerful new programme.

Outcomes for women

Clipper, Transaid and Charlie are hopeful that the project will result in reduced transport costs bringing economic benefit for the co-operative members at personal and community level. The project is anticipated to bring about social improvements for the women of Accra, meaning less time away from home and improved security for women and children. The project will be a positive model for women’s development in Ghana and beyond; and last but not least, when taken to scale, reduced costs will help maintain stable pricing of basic market commodities.

Transaid wishes to thank Clipper for their commitment to Transaid and extends their grateful thanks for seconding Charlie to the project.

For further information on Charlie in Transaid’s Ghana project and any of the other development programmes which Transaid implements across Asia and Africa, please visit www.transaid.org or contact Transaid on 0207 387 8136 and speak to Sarah, Chantelle or Erin in Marketing.

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