WCF Welcomes Leland International Fellow
Entry: Laura Ostenso, Leland International Fellow
As a Leland Fellow, I work with the Accra World Cocoa Foundation (WCF) team on the ECHOES youth livelihoods and education programs. In the first month I met our implementing, funding, and industry partners including colleagues at the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) and the Ghana Education Service. I was very pleased to learn that our work encompasses strengthening whole communities as part of education and livelihoods development.
Youth, young adults, school teachers, administrators, parents, households, farmers, community NGOs, and local government leaders come together in ECHOES communities to participate and apply what they learn. Our M&E data shows that:
• Children and young adults who didn’t know the alphabet are reading.
• Parents are more involved in their children’s schooling since they, too, enrolled in literacy training.
• Community members began defining their own problems and solutions.
ECHOES set out to re-invigorate basic and vocational education in cocoa-growing communities by establishing a sustainable, holistic, community centered approach. After only four years we are beginning our exit strategy in the initial ECHOES communities. In the next four years we hope to transfer the work to local community based organizations in all ECHOES communities.
There is a lot more to learn from ECHOES, and part of my charge is to develop and implement assessments that look at ECHOES from the perspectives of beneficiaries and stakeholders. We want to share more than just final outcome data from our evaluations—we want to share how we got there and how we can continue to empower whole communities. It is exciting work to be a part of, and for me, very fun, as my colleagues have welcomed me as part of the Accra WCF team. They are teaching me about foods, traditions, and very importantly, how to adapt to living in Accra.
Pictured from left to right: Chantal Amissah, WCF Cocoa Livelihoods Program; Laura Ostenso