Championing invaluable community-researcher relationships in Ghana’s Upper West Region

4 Oct 2017 - 12:45

By Birgit Ottermann, ASSAR communications officer

Stanislaus Nasaal, Projects Manager of the Nandom Deanery Integrated Rural Development Programme (NANDIRDEP) in the Upper West Region, has been with the ASSAR Ghana research team right from the start – much of their success is thanks to Nasaal’s in-depth knowledge, important networks and continuous support.

“Mr Nasaal is one of the few individuals in our research area with in-depth knowledge and experience on environmental and livelihood issues,” says Prince Ansah, a technical officer at the University of Ghana. “His years of development work in the Lawra and Nandom districts (Upper West Region) has built his capacity and provided important networks, which the ASSAR Ghana team has benefited from tremendously. With the help of Mr Nasaal and his institution (NANDIRDEP), we were afforded the opportunity to meet and engage with relevant stakeholders who have played important roles in defining ASSAR research outputs. Mr Nasaal is also a member of our Transformative Scenario Planning (TSP) reference group and sometimes facilitates our community level stakeholder engagements.”

Nasaal is a well-liked and respected leader in his district, who is regularly consulted on many environmental and agricultural issues. Besides being Projects Manager for NANDIRDEP since 2004, Nasaal has also held the position of chairman for various institutions and groups including the Nandom Rural Bank, Nandom Town Council, Nandom Water and Sanitation Development Board and Management Committee, and Serve Child Nandom (CHALICE). A married man with five children, he also has a big heart and his home is usually open to many children from the communities in the district.

Photo credit: Prosper Adiku

The ASSAR Ghana team first met Nasaal when he was the secretary of the Climate Change Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) platform in Nandom District. “As the secretary, he assisted the ASSAR team with the organisation of logistics for the first district-level Regional Diagnostic Study (RDS) stakeholder engagement,” Ansah explains. 

The team’s relationship with Nasaal was further strengthened during the regional research phase when researchers and students relied heavily on his expertise for community identification, entry and data collection.

“Mr Nasaal not only ensured successful stakeholder engagement, but also facilitated communication between research teams and community members by acting as an interpreter,” says Ansah. “Additionally, he also assisted researchers and students in identifying communities to carry out data collection for their proposed research activities.”

Ophelia Kaba-Ayamba, an  environmental science PhD-student at the University of Ghana, has much praise for Nasaal: “I have never lacked anything since beginning my research work in Nandom. Mr Nasaal is extremely kind and supportive. He offered some great advice and support for my research experiment, facilitated my transportation to the field and even dedicated his son to assist me in my field work. As if that’s not enough, my experimental materials were also stored at his home! He really is like a God-sent angel to me.”

Rahinatu Sidiki Alare, a technical officer at the University of Ghana, highlights Nasaal’s proactiveness and great skill in providing solutions to addressing development issues. “He is an invaluable member of the ASSAR Ghana team!”

Nasaal’s availability to support ASSAR research activities enabled the team to invite him to a number of ASSAR national and regional level meetings where he made some very useful contributions to assist post-TSP activities.

According to Nasaal, working with ASSAR has also impacted his own thinking: “My collaboration with ASSAR has influenced my thinking on the power of teamwork and the need to plan together ahead of time. I have also gained new insight into the dynamics and role of politics and governance in contributing to development through constant interaction with relevant stakeholders in the district.”

Currently, the team is engaging Nasaal and his institution as partners to the development and implementation of the ASSAR Grants for Local Adaptation Support (GLAS) project in the district. NANDIRDEP will serve as the local host for the GLAS project and will also mobilise stakeholders to participate in the capacity-building workshops.