Focus Group with Village Elders

Rise Up Development Collective is committed to conducting our projects as carefully as possible.  This means frequent engagement with community to ensure that we are working with the most reliable information available.  As a result, our members Lucas Healy and Collyn McCarty began undertaking a series of focus group interviews in the village in October and November of 2012.

Process: Originally, the plan was to conduct focus group interviews with several different segments of the community, including the council of elders, members of the women’s council of elders, health personnel in the village, as well as families.  However, we dramatically altered our structure at the request of the village leadership.  It was explained to us that several months before we began the focus groups, the communities of Wli Todzi, Wli Afegame, and Wli Agoviepe (the latter two are the communities at the base of the mountain) had come together to discuss the clinic project, and to make a vote on whether to continue with the project.  According to the elders that communicated the information to us, the answer was a unanimous yes.  Because this discussion had already occurred, it was requested that we meet with one group only that would speak for the community in answer to our questions, in order to reduce the time- burden to the community.

Below are the answers to a series of questions that are meant to explore and affirm assumptions around the clinic project, and clarify the extent of the need for the project.    The survey was conducted with three members of the council of elders.   Their names and titles are listed below:

Regent: Stephen Todoko

Secretary: Theophilous Amewur

Representative of Chief: Gerghon Mortey

Our questions and their answers are listed below.  Although within any normal evaluation framework, the data is not rigorous enough on which to base a program model, our long- standing relationship with Wli Todzi and its leadership gives us confidence in the honesty of the responses that could not come if this were a baseline study conducted without any previous context.  We are happy to continue to work with Wli Todzi to find new ways of working that can accommodate both the needs of the project and the needs of the community.

What does the community need?:

A road, clinic, school, and well.

They want the road because they can sell products for a higher price in Ghana than in Togo and also a sense of nationalism. “We are Ghanaian.”

Suggestion from evaluators: Research should be done on the influence of Cedi and CFA exchange rates to inquire into what effect this might have on commerce in addition to the mentioned reasons above.

What’s the difference between herbalists, local health care, and healthcare in Ho Hoe:

The herbalist:

There are people who practice traditional medicine in the village. They usually don’t say anything until they see you are sick with something that they can help with.

Local health professionals (from the Hohoe District Health Directorate):

Mostly, they help with malaria, first aid, or cuts. If  something is more serious that the patient needs to hike down. Stocking medicine is difficult.  In addition, transporting medicine to the village is difficult, as sometimes the car used is in bad repair.

Mecical care in Ho Hoe (what does Ho Hoe have that is unavailable in Wli Todzi?):

Medically trained doctors work in Hohow, there only nurses in Wli Todzi.  It is usually necessary to treat snake bites in Hohoe.

Is the care good in Ho Hoe?

Kpando [a village farther from Wli Todzi than Hohoe] has better care. Sometimes Ho hoe is too busy. Sometimes Ho Hoe sends people to Kpando for specific scans.

Kpando is a mission hospital that is bigger and has better care.

How many people have died since Christmas in Wli Todzi (survey taken in late October, 2011)?:

7 elders 5 children

How many have been carried down by stretcher:

5 per month

Are most people in the community on the NHIS (National Health Insurance Service)?:

Most people use NHIS when they go to Ho-Hoe. [Note from evaluator: we are unclear if the NHIS works in Kpando because it isn’t a government hospital and we don’t know what the NHIS covers. This could be ascertained by finding out whether Kpando has passed the necessary government certifications required for accepting NHIS).

What makes life easier in Wli Todzi:

Evaluators: The response we got to this question was a blank stare and then they said nothing. They didn’t really understand the question and concluded with something like- look around, you see what we have, we have nothing.

Side notes:

They noted that people usually stop working around 60-70 year old

Some of the most common medical issues were snake bites, malaria, cuts from the farm.

They know the water is polluted and it is bad. However, they also stated that people do not often get sick from the water.