COMBATs: A Community Structure to prevent Violence against Women and Girls’ project in  Agona East and West District in the Central Region

In 2020, we received a grant from the African Women’s Development Fund to implement a project in Agona East and West District in the Central Region. The 9-months project, ‘COMBATs: A community structure to prevent Violence against Women and Girls’ begun on 16th March and ended on 16th December 2020.

The aim of the project was to

  • Establish and strengthen community structures to prevent and respond to Gender-Based Violence (GBV) in 10 Communities in Agona East and Agona West Districts of the Central Region of Ghana.
  • Train community members who will constitute the Community-Based Action Team (COMBAT) which will support the community to undertake advocacy on community specific issues relating to VAWG.
  • Engage and support traditional leaders to come out with statements or bye-laws prohibiting VAWG
  • Increase awareness of community members on VAWG in a bid to change social norms that perpetuate VAWG and improve community support to women and girls to access justice and other needed services
  • Enhance the capacity of 20 media personnel to effectively report on GBV
Tackling the Pervasive Social Issue of VAWG: Using Community Based Action Teams (COMBATs) to prevent Violence Against Women and Girls

From December 2015 to December 2017, GSHRDC received funding from the Department for International Development (DFID) via the What Works to Prevent Violence against Women and Girls Global Programme to implement ‘Tackling the Pervasive Social Issue of VAWG: Using Community Based Action Teams (COMBATs) to prevent Violence Against Women and Girls’ project. The project was a partnership between University of Ghana School of Public Health,  Gender Studies and Human Rights Documentation Centre and the South African Medical Research Council.

The project was implemented in 20 rural and urban communities in four districts located in the Central region. The goal of the project was to reduce the incidence of VAWG in rural communities in Ghana; protect women’s rights through state and community-based structures; and raise public awareness about the causes and consequences of VAWG.  

The intervention districts underwent an impact assessment and 2 other districts. The impact assessment component of the research was led by the School of Public Health at the University of Ghana, Legon. Komenda-Edina-Eguafo-Abirem (KEEA) and Agona East & West were randomly selected to receive intervention and two other districts, Abura/Asebu/Kwamankese District (AAK) and Upper Denkyira East & West were randomly selected as the control (no intervention) districts.

The specific objectives of the impact assessment were to assess the impact of the Rural Response System (RRS) to reduce incidences of VAWG; assess the extent to which the RRS has changed community attitudes about gender inequality; assess state institutional response to reported cases of VAWG and assess whether the RRS model facilitated a shift in power relations between men and women in the household/community to become more equitable.

The impact assessment of the COMBAT intervention showed a reduction of 55% and 50% respectively for sexual and physical Intimate Partner Violence (16.5% to 8.3% for physical; 17.1% to 7.7% for sexual). It also concluded that VAWG is a major problem for families and communities in Ghana but they can be prevented, and that careful recruitment, training and support for the COMBAT members is vital for its success. The COMBAT (RRS) intervention showed benefits for women within 18 months of intervention delivery and it is likely that with longer time even greater impact will be seen.

Some Keys Lessons learnt from the project include

  • Violence against Women and girls (VAWG) is a major problem for families and communities in Ghana but it can be prevented.
  • Women experiencing VAWG need support to be able to access justice and other services.
  • Economic and social factors drive Intimate Partner Violence (IPV)
  • Community involvement in development process and implementation ensures buy-in and sustainability