Who Are the Kayayei?
Meet Asana. Like many Kayayei women, she traveled to Ghana’s capital city Accra from the Northern region of Ghana to earn enough money to follow her dream of completing her education and becoming a nurse. Income opportunities are scarce in her home village, and climate change is making farming income less viable and predictable.
Asana found work at Kantamanto Market - Accra’s largest second-hand clothing market as a Kayayoo - a female head porter - carrying 120lb bales of clothing. Her work is difficult and strenuous, and she is paid only $.30-$1 per trip. At 10 trips per day, after paying for living expenses, Asana has little hope of saving any money toward her nursing degree.
COVID-19 has made life more difficult for women like Asana - when Accra went into lockdown to prevent the spread of the virus, income opportunities for the Kayayei dried up. To make matters worse, a recent fire in the Old Fadama section of Accra destroyed over 800 settlements, displacing an estimated 1000 Kayayei and their families.
Our partner organizations, The Kayayei Youth Association and The OR Project typically focus on more systematic long term solutions to fix this broken system- research, advocacy for Kayayei rights, assistance with school tuition for educational and trade opportunities, and accessible health clinics.
In light of COVID-19 and the Old Fadama fire, they have shifted their efforts to direct food aid to get these women through this difficult time in the hopes of helping them achieve their long term dreams in a post-COVID world.