Shea-butter processing equipment in Zuarungu, Upper East Region. The community won’t use the machinery until housing is provided for it.
Ghana is hardly the poorest country in Africa, nor the most dependent on foreign aid. Yet the countryside seems scattered with the remnants of failed development projects—unused, unfinished, dilapidated, unwanted or abandoned. They represent both wasted money and a simplistic, predetermined narrative of Africa.
My first interaction with Ghana was as a Peace Corps Volunteer, in a northern village. I felt I was going about development work the right way. My projects were all ideas suggested by villagers, carried out with community participation. Yet many failed. Photographs of these projects, and of others I have seen across the country, hint at larger questions, which I fear the development community hesitates to ask itself. My photographs are not necessarily proof that aid can never work. Instead, my focus is on the larger questions I feel need to be raised, of prolonged dependence and cyclical misperception across a vast cultural divide.