About Us


The Centre for Rural Improvement Services (CRIS) is a non-governmental, a non-political and non-profit organization formed in 1998 in Damongo, West Gonja District, Ghana.  CRIS was established in order to improve the living standards of poor, marginalized and disadvantaged segments of society living in West Gonja, one of the Ghana’s most poverty stricken of districts.

In its early years, CRIS helped regional communities secure potable water sources and trained local women in water administration and management.  CRIS also provided households with inside latrines and led community sanitation and trash clean-up campaigns.  In addition, CRIS assisted in the formation of women farming groups and the formation women-led savings and loan associations.

The Centre for Rural Improvement Services (CRIS) is a Non-Governmental, Non-profit and Non-Partisan organisation, committed to the promotion of quality life for the poor & marginalized in society particularly women and children. The head office is based in Damongo, the district capital of West Gonja of the Northern Region of Ghana with satellites offices at Buipe, Sawla and Bole.

The Northern Region is known to have been marginalised over the years resulting in rampant poverty, illiteracy and general ignorance. An urgent need to turn around the situation through strategic programmes and activities in order to reduce the vices, accounted for the formation of CRIS.         

Legal status

The organization is registered with the Registrar Generals Department in Accra, with Registration No. G – 11,555 and Department of Social Welfare no. DSW 2369

The Centre for Rural Improvement Services (CRIS) is a non-governmental, a non-political and non-profit organization formed in 1998 in Damongo, West Gonja District, Ghana. CRIS was established in order to improve the living standards of poor, marginalized and disadvantaged segments of society living in West Gonja, one of the Ghana’s most poverty stricken of districts. In its early years, CRIS helped regional communities secure potable water sources and trained local women in water administration and management. CRIS also provided households with inside latrines and led community sanitation and trash clean-up campaigns. In addition, CRIS assisted in the formation of women farming groups and the formation women-led savings and loan associations. The Centre for Rural Improvement Services (CRIS) is a Non-Governmental, Non-profit and Non-Partisan organisation, committed to the promotion of quality life for the poor & marginalized in society particularly women and children. The head office is based in Damongo, the district capital of West Gonja of the Northern Region of Ghana with satellites offices at Buipe, Sawla and Bole. The Northern Region is known to have been marginalised over the years resulting in rampant poverty, illiteracy and general ignorance. An urgent need to turn around the situation through strategic programmes and activities in order to reduce the vices, accounted for the formation of CRIS.

EDUCATION

Goal: To promote the opportunity of poor and marginalised boys and girls to have access to quality basic education through improved retention and ability of at least 80% girls to complete Junior high school by 2021

Objectives:

Improved access and retention of boys and girls in deprived rural community schools in the Northern Region by 80% in 2021

Improved quality of teaching and learning in basic schools through improved school management and community support.

Advocate for a conducive School and community environment enhance effective teaching and learning which promotes and enhances the rights of especially girls to quality education.

Education is one of CRIS’s Key important programmes. We view access to quality education as a right; one of the most fundamental of rights. Besides its impact on ability to earn income and its contribution to the development of both individuals and communities it is essential for the realization of the other rights. CRIS regards education as the main key to development since it empowers people to pull themselves out of poverty.

In order to promote education, CRIS has established parent-teacher associations (PTAs) and school management committees (SMCs) in schools where none existed and built the capacity of existing PTAs and SMCs by training them in student enrolment, retention and completion. CRIS also led highly successful campaigns to encourage school dropouts to reenrol, with particular emphasis on teenage mothers.  CRIS prepared mentor-teachers to educate girls on sexual reproductive health, assertiveness and home economics. Through CRIS’s efforts, district “wing” schools serving the very rural have been established and access ramps for the disabled have been constructed in schools.

It promotes essential skills and provides the tools necessary for individuals, families, communities and countries to fulfil human potential and realize aspirations. Better access to education leads to citizen empowerment and increases people’s ability to assert their rights, to demand accountability from their governments, and to engage in the world as global citizens. Education is critical to the strengthening of civil society organizations that seek to articulate the needs and demands of people in the Northern Region for an equitable distribution of the Ghana’s resources, and solutions to the marginalization of region.

The Education Programme will continue to focus on access to quality basic education by boys and girls in rural and deprived communities in the Northern Region. The programme would target the government, its agencies and international donor agencies at the national level, to ensure the adoption and implementation of policies and practices that assure access to quality education for girls and boys. This will be done through our association and active participation as member of the Ghana National Education Campaign Coalition and the Northern Network for Education Development by actively participating in activities which directly influence education policy and practice.

At the community level, emphasis will be placed on empowering communities by building community capacity to engage service providers and policy-makers in the provision of those resources which are essential to complement community response to educate their children in order to ensure that children do have access not only to a school but to quality education.

Furthermore, issues on the school environment and its impact on retention will be addressed after conducting an in-depth gender analysis. This will sustain the gains made in increasing the retention of girls in the first phase.

Some limited level of service delivery will be undertaken as an approach for demonstrating good practice and encouraging duty bearers and service providers such as the Ghana Education Service and the District Assemble to replicate in other deprived schools. This will also increase CRIS’s legitimacy to engage government agencies and donors at the regional and national level as a result of our practical experience in demonstrating good practice of meeting immediate and urgent educational needs of deprived and marginalized boys and girls

Achievements

Returned 140 teenage mothers to school in in Sala and West Gonja districts

SMC/PTAs and their networks have been established in the West Gonja, North Gonja, East Gonja, Bole, Sawla Tuna Kalba which gave parents a stronger voice to demand accountability from governments to claim their rights to quality education delivery. So far 30 educational circuits have been mobilized into 8 Zonal coalitions has been established to serve as an advocacy body.

Capacity of PTA/SMC built to enhance school management and monitoring performance of their wards and teacher attendance.

Facilitating access to basic education through the Construction of 15 school blocks and sanitary facilities in 15 communities.

Contributed to improving quality of teaching and learning by providing 1200 pieces of furniture, textbooks and other teaching/learning materials to over 20 deprived schools.

Children’s Right and Empowerment for Social Transformation (CREST) circles have been established in 16 communities in three districts in the Northern Region of Ghana to champion and advocate for the rights of children.

23 children with disabilities have been enrolled in school as a response to sensitization of parents and community leaders about their right to education.

Establishment of Girls clubs have increase the confidence and empowered over 540 girls in rural community schools to engage with colleagues from other schools through the girls camps.

The sponsorship scheme currently has 2,000 children in (LRP 3 and 4) (700) children in (LRP 4) in the Damongo district.

GOVERNANCE

Goal: To empower citizens to demand transparency and accountability from traditional, local government structures and health institutions as well as actively participate in decision making at the local level. Objectives: • Improve the performance of decentralised sub-structures in communities (Town and Area Councils, Unit Communities) through the active participation of ordinary citizens • Improve the performance of community institutions and structures • To ensure that marginalized and people living in rural areas such as poor men and women, youth and persons with disability participate actively in decision making and are demanding efficient resource management and accountability at the local level In the area of democratic governance and human rights, CRIS has mediated multiple chieftaincy and land ownership disputes. It has also conducted formal community-level training for tolerance and the value of peaceful coexistence. On multiple occasions, CRIS has organized training sessions to teach citizens, especially women, about constitutional rights, and to encourage them to become more active participants in decision making at all levels of society. CRIS has been a key factor in the elevation of at least four women to high-visibility political positions.

Social Accountability

 PROMOTING SOCIAL ACCOUNTABILITY THROUGH CITIZENS PARTICIPATION IN LOCAL GOVERNANCE.

Background

The Centre for Rural Improvement services (CRIS) is implementing a social accountability project, dubbed “Promoting Social Accountability through Citizens’ Participation in local governance”. The project aims at strengthening transparency, participation and feedback around local government budgeting and planning systems. The project seeks to mobilize citizens’ interest in Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) budgeting and planning programmes. It aims at cultivating positive attitudes among citizens and MMDAs with respect to participation, transparency and accountability in the design, implementation and monitoring of MMDAs plans and budgets. The project is being implemented with support from the CDD- Ghana and Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA).

Project Activities

The project adopts a combination of implementation strategies aimed at achieving all proposed   objectives. The strategies include education and sensitization programmes/campaigns using community durbars and radio; creating interface engagements between citizens and duty bearers, among others. To this extent, the project has organized community engagement meetings in the central Gonja district using District Education Committees (DECs) constituted for the implementation of the project in the Central Gonja district. The DECs organized a total of 10 community durbars as part of sensitization and education on the plan and budget formulation and implementation mechanisms, and on the role of citizens and stakeholders in these processes. The durbars also formed part of an advocacy campaign to promote citizens’ participation in local governance, particularly, within the plan and budget formulation and implementation process. We hope that the combination of these strategies will build the capacity of citizens to be able to participate effectively in the budgeting and planning processes, as well as secure their buy-in for the district budget fora which will facilitate interface meeting between MMDAs officials and the citizenry. In the end, the project is expected to promote information sharing and feedback on district plans and budgets for a more open, accountable and inclusive society and improvement in service delivery.

The Radio Sensitization and Engagement with duty bearers

There is evidence that citizens are willing to join others to raise an issue for the attention of duty bearers [1]. This is done through various mechanisms and platforms, including the use of radio, demonstrations, attending community meetings, among others. This project seeks to complement and support these platforms through the use of radio in promoting accountability and responsiveness among local authorities with regards to service delivery.  The use of radio is also to increase public education, sensitization and awareness on local government issues, particularly the planning and budgeting systems – thus how these policies are developed, implemented and opportunities they offer for citizens to interface and engage as right holders and principals at the local level, all aimed at amplifying citizens voice and promoting feedback to improve service delivery and development at the local level. Moreover, there is evidence that over 90% of Ghanaians, and especially those in rural areas have radio as the only source of information – wider reach. Again, people prefer sharing their concerns through radio stations more than even reporting to duty bearers [2].  The radio sensitization and accountability platform seeks to achieve the following specific objectives:

  • To enhance knowledge and understanding on the planning and budgeting process of Assemblies among citizens.
  • To strengthen local dialogue and debates through radio, town hall meetings and existing social accountability platforms.
  • To use radio as a platform to promote accountability and responsiveness from duty bearers in service delivery at the local level.

Expected outcomes

  • Citizens are informed and knowledgeable on the plans and budgets of MMDAs.
  • Enhanced duty bearers’ responsiveness to citizens’ demand for public goods and services.
  • Improved the delivery of public goods and services among citizens.

[1]Source: cddghana/eu survey/baseline report on citizens’ participation in local governance

[2]Source: Afrobarometer survey, round 6

CRIS with funding from STAR-GHANA is focusing   on improving effectiveness of the Free Compulsory Universal Basic Education (FCUBE) and the Re-entry policy for increased impact of girl child education in two districts; the West Gonja and Sawla – Tuna- Kalba districts of Northern Region

Though the policy makes provision for school dropouts and pupils who become pregnant to return to school to complete their education after delivery, it is rarely adhered to.

The Centre for Rural Improvement Services is therefore advocating for the effective implementation of this provision among others. Through community dialogue sessions and working with women leaders in its project catchment areas, CRIS identifies potential beneficiaries of their intervention and reaches out to their families.

According to Mr Amos Seidu, the Executive Director of CRIS, they have worked in communities in all beneficiary districts in the past undertaking similar interventions. As a result, there exist cordial working relations with a number of women leaders who act as volunteers in the communities. He said these women have been assigned the responsibility of helping to identify the school drop outs and teenage mothers, after which CRIS moves in to engage with the parents directly.

According to Mr Amos Seidu, the parents are usually reluctant to send these girls back to school.

He said, “Usually when we follow up to the families of the teenage mothers, they are initially apprehensive about allowing the girls to go back to school. They worry about the girls getting pregnant again and also about who will take care of the children, when their mothers return to school”.

In the case of Ubeda, her grandmother after some sensitization and persuasion, agreed to wean off the baby whiles she returns to the class room to study.

CRIS’ intervention doesn’t just end here. The project continues to monitor the performance and progress of Ubeda and other girls who have returned to school. This is done with the active participation of community members, Parent Teacher Associations and School Management Committees.

The teenage mothers have also formed   “controlled groups” who act as peer educators to mentor each other and support other teenage mothers to return to school. .

The teenage mothers are faced with a different kind of challenge now. Like Ubeda, most of the 57  teenage mothers and girl drop-outs are struggling to  fends for themselves, their babies and  and to provide basic needs  including  school uniform, exercise books, pens, etc.

LIVELIHOODS

Goal: To secure access of poor and marginalized men and women to a decent livelihood through access to productive resources, skills training and enterprise development.

CRIS has promoted the sustainability of livelihoods by providing instruction for rural farmers on profitable methods of rearing of guinea fowl and ruminants, training women’s groups for the extraction and processing of Shea butter, and educating communities on the negative effects of indiscriminate clear cutting of trees.  It has also established demonstration farm plots and provided basic math, record-keeping and English skills to women farmers groups.

The livelihoods programme will focus on building strong access of rural men and women to reproductive resources such as credit, enterprise development services and entrepreneurial skills. We will build the capacity of farmers to use business skills to manage the storage and marketing of farm produce as post harvest losses are a major challenge in the agriculture sector. We will also focus on building strong farmer based association and groups, with the strategy of linking them up to other organizations such as SADA to support them to access farm inputs.

CRIS will also lobby for government to improve upon the road network to boost access to distant food producing communities and markets. Similarly we will strengthen our support to women’s income generation activities through a Micro-credit scheme. We will scale up our current micro-credit scheme for women, targeting widows and those whose children are in school. It our plan to link them up with rural banks and help negotiate for soft loans and accessible financial services by encouraging savings and prudent business practices.

Objectives

Increase income earnings opportunities and options for vulnerable rural farmers and marginalized women in Northern Ghana by 2021 to 40%
Promote access of poor rural men and women to productive resources especially public funds

 

 

 FUNDED BY UNDP GEF/SGP. A VILLAGE SAVINGS AND LOANS ASSOCIATION MEETING WITH EXECITIVE DIRECTOR OF CRIS AT BALE.

 

 

 

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