Bound Volume Number


Degree Type

Honors Capstone Project

Date of Submission

Spring 5-1-2015

Capstone Advisor

Deborah Pellow, Professor of Anthropology

Honors Reader

Cathryn Newton, Professor of Earth Sciences

Capstone Major

International Relations

Capstone College

Arts and Science

Audio/Visual Component



non-governmental organization (NGO), Ghana, adolescent pregnancy, maternal healthcare, women's health

Capstone Prize Winner


Won Capstone Funding


Honors Categories

Social Sciences

Subject Categories

African Studies | Health Policy | International Public Health | International Relations | Maternal and Child Health | Policy Design, Analysis, and Evaluation


International aid is often ineffective because it is delivered without an understanding of local ideologies and contexts. My Capstone examined whether or not international aid in northern Ghana could be effective when addressing adolescent pregnancy. The Ghanaian programs I address in my Capstone are six non-governmental organizations, a government sub-district clinic and government junior high schools. The majority of my data was collected through interviews with individuals at all levels of the organizations, including directors, staff members, volunteers and individuals seeking the organization’s services. Alongside interviews I also spent time in the field, participating in youth group discussions, visiting regional training centers for skill-based education, and observing the daily interactions at a maternal healthcare clinic. I also examined the developmental history of northern Ghana to gain a better understanding of the contexts within which this aid was utilized.

My findings show the ways northern Ghanaian fieldworkers utilize international funds, and how ideologies and volunteers ensure that the services’ northern adolescent women and mothers can access are specific, multi-faceted, and effective. They work not only to decrease adolescent pregnancy rates, but also to improve the livelihoods of marginalized women across the North. Fieldworkers are able to utilize this aid while simultaneously juggling local customs, a history of systematic underdevelopment, and a disconnect from southern Ghana. Despite these constraints, this network is imperative to the northern community, especially when governmental efforts to address adolescent pregnancy thus far have been inadequate and unable to meet the needs of the North, despite over fifty years of unification as a nation. The network demonstrates that international aid can be effective so long as it is channeled by local fieldworkers, who can better adapt Western aid to specific, local needs and adapt the ideologies of the aid to the local worldview.

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Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License
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